The 2002 season was filled with many close games that came down to the wire but only one of them ended due to a play so spectacular that it earned its own nickname. On November 9th, 2002, the second ranked Ohio State Buckeyes rolled into West Lafayette to face the Purdue Boilermakers. Purdue entered the game with a 4-5 (2-3 conference) record and nobody expected the epic game that was about to unfold.
Purdue got off to a good start, moving the ball well and getting deep into Ohio State territory before Dustin Fox intercepted a Kyle Orton pass to end the scoring threat. Neither team did anything with the ball for the next few possessions until Craig Krenzel was intercepted, giving the Boilermakers the ball deep in Buckeye territory; fortunately the OSU defense held strong and limited Purdue to a field goal to go up 3-0 late in the first quarter. The Buckeye offense finally showed signs of life in the second quarter and with the clock running down and no timeouts left, Mike Nugent and the special teams unit hurried onto the field to kick a field goal as time expired in the first half.
The third quarter was a slugfest with neither team really able to move the ball with great success and both teams just exchanging punts. Purdue finally broke the scoring drought early in the fourth quarter with a field goal to go up 6-3 with just under eight minutes remaining. The two teams traded punts on their next possessions and OSU got the ball back with just over three minutes remaining and the Boilermaker fans starting to believe that they were about to pull off a huge upset. That belief only grew after OSU lost 4 yards on their next two plays; Craig Krenzel then hit Ben Hartsock for a 13 yard gain to setup 4th and 1 and history. Every Buckeye fan knows what came next, as OSU fans expected a running play, Krenzel instead dropped back and hit Michael Jenkins for a 37 yard touchdown that would forever be known as ‘Holy Buckeye’. After Purdue went four and out on the next drive, it was all over as the Buckeyes claimed a 10-6 victory to move on to 11-0 for the fourth time in history and place themselves only one game away from the national title game.
I remembering being at the game, sitting near the Purdue student section thanks to a friend of mine in the Purdue marching band who thought it would be funny to get me a ticket there. As it turns out, I had the last laugh, joining the other Buckeye fans in attendance in celebrating and then enjoying the scene in the West Lafayette bars the rest of the night as ESPN repeatedly kept showing highlights of the game.