Hey there Buckeye fans.
Today we celebrate the No. 7 and there’s no better way to do it than to set the Way Back Machine to Oct. 13, 1984, when OSU beat Illinois by a touchdown, 45-38.
That’s right: The Keith Byars Game.
Early on, it looked like it would be an Orange Crush as the Illini took a 24-0 lead in the second quarter. It was so bad that my brother left the game early.
OSU came roaring back as Byars scored three touchdowns and Cris Carter hauled in a touchdown pass from Mike Tomczak to give OSU a 28-24 lead early in the third quarter.
But Byars’ best was yet to come.
Following an Illinois field goal, Byars took a handoff from Tomczak, changed direction and scampered 67-yards for a touchdown. He ran the last 40 yards or so with only one shoe as his left sneaker decided to abandon ship.
Illinois tied it as the teams headed into the fourth quarter and after trading field goals, Byars was set up for more heroics as he scored the winning TD with just 36 seconds left.
On the day, Byars ran 39 times for what was then a single-game record of 274 yards. Carter hauled in seven passes for 134 yards.
OSU went on to win the Big 10 but lost the Rose Bowl, 20-17 to USC.
Byars was a serious Heisman Trophy candidate but for some reason it was given to Boston College’s Doug Flutie.
One theory is that Byars was only a junior and voters figured he would be a shoe-in (pun intended) the next season and they didn’t want anyone else other than OSU’s Archie Griffin to be a 2-time winner.
A couple of interesting notes: Future OSU head coach Jim Tressel was the QB/RB/WR coach for the Buckeyes in 1984. Future Minnesota head coach Glen Mason was the offensive coordinator.