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.
In today’s edition, we celebrate number 56, specifically Ohio State’s 33-23 win over Michigan State on November 8th, 2003. The defending national champion Buckeyes were enroute to an 11-2 season when they hosted Michigan State Spartans. This game had ‘Jim Tressel’ written all over it. Two of OSU’s TD’s came via passes to the tight ends (Hartsock, Hamby), Mike Nugent kicked 4 field goals and the defense picked off two Jeff Smoker passes. Good times in Tresselville.
Craig Krenzel had a good day(12-24 for 213 yards, 3 TD’s, 1 Int), as did Lydell Ross (24 carries, 125 yards). For MSU, Jeff Smoker had (statistically) a good day of 35-55 (where’s the liniment?) and 2 TD’s, which was fortunate for them, since the Spartans rushing attack attempts yielded net of 5 yards on 17 carries. In basketball parlance, those would be empty possessions…
In order to help us get through the long summer months, we will be starting a countdown of the top 25 Buckeyes of the decade (2000-2009).
The staff submitted their ballots and the votes have been tallied. We will unveil a new Buckeye in the countdown once a week and as the season approaches the frequency may increase (I haven’t done the exact math to figure out how this is going to work out).
We will only be covering football players for this countdown, even though Ohio State has had some fine basketball players over the last decade as well, sorry Evan Turner.
One thing to note is that we didn’t really define what it means to be in the “Top 25 Buckeyes of the Decade.”
Do you measure on the field accomplishments? wins and losses? statistics? post season accolades? who you’d want most on this year’s team?
In the end, it is a mix of all of the above and then some, which means that different people will have different opinions about this list. We tried to eliminate some of the individual biases by polling all five writers here at the BBC, and I have to say I am happy with the results. However, by no means is this list definitive, so feel free to chime in with your thoughts.
And with that, here are the guys that didn’t quite make the cut for the top 25, but did receive votes, making them worthy of an honorable mention. Read More
There was absolutely no doubt about who our honored guest would be for Day #16. The legendary season of 2002 was all we ever needed to see in order to make the name Craig Krenzel a household name throughout the glorious state of Ohio.
We could start a poll and try to select a play from the 2002 National Championship season that truly encompasses the magnificent year that Krenzel and the Buckeyes had….but no single play could ever do it justice. Yes, Holy Buckeye would win that poll, but there were at least 10 other plays that will still bring a tear to my eye.
As a matter of fact, there were so many ridiculous plays from that season, I actually had to break out my list of box scores from 2002 to see if I missed anything.
Two plays will always stand out in my mind as the best possible result for Buckeye fans. Let’s jump in the Way-Back Machine for this journey.
Play #1 – November 16th, 2002 - Ohio State is 11-0 heading into a showdown with Illinois. Traditionally, Illinois always gives us problems. Being the game before Michigan Week just made this game extra-extra-scary. Letdowns happen, as many Buckeye fans will attest.
The Illini have again shown us that they are for real, and they will not go away quietly. Their defense has been tenacious and Krenzel has had a hard time throwing the ball successfully. With 8 minutes to play in the game, Ohio State has a precarious 16-13 lead and a tough 3rd-down-and-9 situation at the Illinois 35.
Krenzel went into the shotgun formation and took the snap. He dropped back a few steps, got happy feet and retreated to the 45, where he was being surrounded. One defender came at him hard from his left, while another grabbed his right arm. They spun him around a full rotation and the Illinois crowd roared for the apparent sack.
But Krenzel didn’t go down. The spin move he was forced into actually freed him from his opponents’ grasp, and he stumbled a few feet as he ran towards the left side of the field. He regained his form and picked up speed as he approached the first down marker, and was hit at the 28. His momentum carried him over the 25 for a huge first down, as WR Chris Vance pumped his fist into the air near the end of the play.
Watch the play here – it’s the second play in this short highlight film;
Play #2 – November 9th, 2002 - Ohio State is at Purdue, and they’re in big trouble. On what would most likely be their final chance with the ball, the Buckeyes take possession at the Purdue 46-yard-line, trailing 6-3. Ohio State loses four yards on their first two plays. On 3rd-and-14, Krenzel escapes pressure and finds TE Ben Hartsock for a 13-yard gain at Purdue’s 37. Facing 4th-and-1 on the road, and more pressure than any team should ever experience, Jim Tressel did something NONE of us thought he would do. He sent in a pass play.
The sold-out crowd was erupting. The Boilermaker whistle was blowing loudly. Two full fan bases were facing heart attacks as the players approached the line of scrimmage.
The rest of the story is summed up in two words from the lips of Brent Musburger…..”Holy Buckeye”.
Watch the final two plays here and feel the excitement;
If you’re not getting tears in your eyes right now, you’re not human. Or you’re not a Buckeye fan.
Craig Krenzel had ice water in his veins every single week. He will never be listed among the greatest quarterbacks of all-time at Ohio State, but for 14 straight games, he never let us down. In the end, he earned his biggest title of all – Champion.
Here’s to you, Craig Krenzel.
16 days to go!