This is the third in a series of stories looking at legendary moments in Ohio State football history. Did they really happen the way the story says? We went back and checked original sources to find out.
During a game in the 1970s, Indiana jumped out to an early lead against Ohio State. Hoosiers coach Lee Corso was so excited to be ahead of the Buckeyes that had his players pose for a picture in front of the scoreboard.
Did It Really Happen?
Ohio State has completely dominated Indiana in football for most of their long series history.
OSU leads it 73-12-5 all-time. What’s even crazier is that Indiana won five of the first six matchups and tied the other one. That means since 1914, the Buckeyes have a 73-7-4 record in 84 meetings.
One of the most extended periods of dominance came while Woody Hayes was coaching the Buckeyes. He lost his first matchup with IU in 1951, tied them once in 1959, and completely obliterated them in every other year.
At one point, the Buckeyes went more than a decade without trailing IU in any game.
That streak ended during the 1976 matchup.
The game was in Bloomington and started like most OSU-IU games did. The Bucks jumped out to an early 6-0 lead.
But in the first minute of the second quarter, according to a 1977 Sports Illustrated article by John Underwood, something bizarre happened.
Indiana scored a touchdown and kicked the extra point. Lee Corso, the Indiana coach, immediately called time and huddled his players on the sideline, where he had a photographer take a picture of the happy group at an angle which allowed the scoreboard to fill the background: INDIANA 7, OHIO STATE 6. Asked why he did this, Corso said, “It’s the first time in 25 years Indiana has led Ohio State in a game. I looked it up. Can you believe it? Twenty-five years! The goal of a lifetime!”
Sadly for Corso, the lead did not last. OSU went on to win the game, 47-7.
That’s one version of the story. However, there are some immediate red flags.
For instance, Indiana led the Buckeyes 10-7 at halftime of the 1965 game, just 11 years earlier. Not even close to the 25 years Corso claimed.
A bigger issue is that Indiana University’s official archives have not been able to locate the supposed photo.
The photo at the top of this article is from the IU Archives file on the 1976 OSU/IU game, but they don’t have the scoreboard photo.
According to their records, “there is no mention or photo of such an event in the following Monday’s (Nov. 1, 1976) Indiana Daily Student.”
They also cite an anonymous player from that team who says it didn’t happen.
Ohio State’s archives don’t include photos from the game because it was on the road.
Additionally, neither The Indianapolis Star, nor The Columbus Dispatch, nor The Lantern recap of that game mention the scoreboard picture.
The official play-by-play of the game didn’t track timeouts, so it’s impossible to know if Corso called a timeout after the score (top of page 6).
It’s the kind of amusing and self-deprecating story Corso has been known for telling over the years. It might have just been a joke he told Underwood that then became “fact” over the years.
You can find video of the 1978 OSU/IU game online, but not the 1976 matchup.
Without that, and without a photo or game recap from that day that mentioned what obviously would have been a memorable event, this is just a great story for now.
[Header photo courtesy Indiana University Archives]