The Best Indoor Games In Ohio State Football History

Ohio State Buckeyes football indoors

Ohio is now subject to a “Shelter In Place” order effective at 11:59 pm on Monday.

So while you’re about to be spend a bunch of time inside for at least a couple weeks, it seemed like a good chance to look at the best football games Ohio State has ever played indoors.

The Buckeyes have played more than 1,300 games in their program history (all-time record: 924-326-53), but just 31 of those have been in a dome.

The first was the 1978 Sugar Bowl, a 35-6 loss to Alabama. The most recent was the 2019 Fiesta Bowl, a 29-23 loss against Clemson.

However between those defeats, OSU put together a 23-6 record under a roof.

The most common indoor site was the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Bucks played the Minnesota Golden Gophers there 11 times between 1984 and 2007 and won every one of them. That accounts for nearly half of the school’s all-time indoor victories.

The only other regular season games inside a dome were a 1992 win at Syracuse and a 2018 neutral-site victory over TCU in Arlington, Texas.

That puts OSU’s all-time regular season record indoors at a perfect 13-0.

The rest of their games inside have been played at the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis or at bowl games.

The Buckeyes are 4-1 in the conference title game, and 6-7 in bowl games.

Here’s a look at a half-dozen of the most memorable wins the Buckeyes have ever had inside.

1989: Ohio State 41, Minnesota 37

This was a matchup of a pair of unranked teams going basically nowhere. But it’s still considered one of the most remarkable victories in Ohio State history.

Minnesota jumped out to a 31-0 lead on the Buckeyes with less than five minutes to play until halftime.

OSU finally got on the board with just 10 seconds to play in the second quarter on a Carlos Snow touchdown run. Greg Frey hit Jeff Graham for a 2-point conversion to make it 31-8 Gophers at the break.

It didn’t seem like much at the time, but that score completely swung momentum. After the break, the Bucks went 66 yards in 11 plays, but settled for a Pat O’Morrow field goal to make it 31-11.

Frey hit Snow for a 15-yard pass to trim it to 31-18 at the end of the third quarter.

Minnesota answered with a field goal to stretch their lead, but Frey and Snow connected on a 27-yard touchdown, and then again on the conversion to make it 34-26 Minnesota with 9:26 to play.

The Gophers added another field goal to make it 37-26, but OSU battled back yet again. This time it was Frey scoring on a one-yard run to make it just 37-34 Minnesota with 3:04 to play.

After Minnesota went three-and-out, the Buckeyes got the ball back with 1:52 on the clock and a chance to take the lead.

Frey hit Snow for a first down to the OSU 45, then connected with Brian Stablein to put it down at the Gopher 36.

Three plays later, he found Jeff Graham for the winning touchdown with just 0:47 to play.

It’s still the biggest comeback win in Ohio State history.

1992: No. 21 Ohio State 35, No. 8 Syracuse 12

OSU entered its mid-September date at Syracuse off of a pair of close wins. First, they squeaked past Louisville, 20-19. Then it was a 17-6 win over Bowling Green. Nothing suggested that they were about to go on the road and destroy a top-10 team.

And then they went on the road and destroyed a top-10 team.

Kirk Herbstreit connected with Brian Stablein for a 46-yard touchdown to open the scoring. Then Eddie George scored a pair of touchdowns, sandwiched around a Syracuse field goal to stake the Bucks to a 21-3 lead.

The Orangemen kicked another field goal before the half and punched in a touchdown midway through the third quarter to cut the Buckeyes’ lead to 21-12.

But fourth-quarter touchdowns by Robert Smith and George added up to a 35-12 final.

George finished the game with just nine carries for 23 yards, and a long run of 5, but scored three touchdowns.

The Buckeye defense intercepted SU quarterback Marvin Graves four times.

2014: No. 6 Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0

This list includes a national championship game win, a victory over the top-ranked team in the nation, and the biggest comeback in Ohio State history. But there is not a game on here that was more of a shock from the moment they kicked the ball off than this one.

The Buckeyes entered on the periphery of the College Football Playoff picture, behind both TCU and Baylor, in addition to Alabama, Oregon, and Florida State. All five of those teams won their games, leaving the Bucks with virtually no shot at jumping up to the No. 4 spot in the final rankings.

Additionally, OSU was relying on a first-time starting quarterback. Cardale Jones replaced JT Barrett after the latter suffered a broken leg in the win over Michigan the week before.

Wisconsin entered as a four-point favorite. And then the game started.

OSU got the ball first and went 77 yards in six plays, with Jones hitting Devin Smith for a 39-yard touchdown to make it 7-0.

The teams traded punts before Ezekiel Elliott went 12 yards and then 81 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0.

Wisconsin looked like it might have something going on its next drive, but Vonn Bell picked off a Joel Stave pass to end the threat. OSU kicked a field goal to make it 17-0 early in the second quarter.

After a three-and-out for the Badgers, Jones hit Smith for a 44-yard bomb to stretch the Buckeyes’ lead to 24-0.

Another UW three-and-out led to a six-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a 14-yard touchdown run by Elliott. The Buckeyes were up, 31-0.

Two drives later, Michael Bennett stripped the ball from Melvin Gordon, Joey Bosa scooped it up and ran it in to make it 38-0 Ohio State with less than a minute to play until the half.

You could live to be 150 years old and never see 30 minutes of Ohio State football that remarkable on that big a stage.

The second half was more of the same. Jones to Smith for 42 yards and a 45-0 lead.

Curtis Samuel ran it in from 12 yards out to stretch it to 52-0 early in the fourth quarter.

Samuel added a final exclamation point from a yard out to make the final score 59-0.

The win was enough to vault the Buckeyes over both the Bears and Horned Frogs and into the inaugural College Football Playoff field.

2015: No. 4 Ohio State 42, No. 1 Alabama 35

The second of three straight indoor games wasn’t quite as much of a shock as the win over Wisconsin, but it still ranks as one of the greatest in Ohio State history. It didn’t start out that way, though.

OSU got the ball inside the Alabama 5 on two of its first three possessions, but settled for a pair of field goals.

Meanwhile, the Tide was having no such red zone issues. They punched in three touchdowns to take a 21-6 lead with 8:07 to play before halftime. Talk of another overmatched Big Ten team being unable to keep up with a mighty SEC Goliath was already flooding social media.

But then a funny thing happened: the Buckeyes got off the canvas and absolutely destroyed Alabama for the next 20 minutes of football.

Ezekiel Elliott scored from three yards out. It was 21-13 Alabama.

Then Evan Spencer hit Michael Thomas on a legendary trick play to cut it to 21-20 just before the half.

Then Cardale Jones connected with Devin Smith to make it 27-21 Buckeyes early in the third.

And defensive end Steve Miller intercepted a pass and ran it back 41 yards for a pick-six to stretch the Buckeyes’ lead to 34-21. Just like that, OSU had rattled off a 28-0 run.

The Tide finally answered with a minute left in the third to trim the Buckeyes’ lead to 34-28.

After a tense fourth quarter, Elliott gave OSU some much-needed breathing room with an 85-yard score to extend the Buckeyes’ advantage back to 42-28.

The Tide failed to recover the onside kick, but got the ball back in time to drive it into OSU territory and heave one into the end zone. But safety Tyvis Powell was there to save the day, and the Buckeyes advanced to the national championship game.

2015: No. 4 Ohio State 42, No. 2 Oregon 20

The third dome game in a row was another classic. The Ducks went 75 yards in 11 plays to grab an early 7-0 lead, but the OSU defense quickly adjusted and kept Heisman winner Marcus Mariotta in check for most of the rest of the first half.

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes’ offense got rolling late in the first quarter. Ezekiel Elliott raced in from 33 yards out to tie the game 7.

Then Cardale Jones found tight end Nick Vannett to make it 14-7 Bucks.

Jones kept it for a one-yard score to stretch the lead before the Ducks answered with a field goal before halftime to make it 21-10 Ohio State.

Things got a little dicey in the third quarter, when a 70-yard touchdown pass from Mariotta to Byron Marshall and another field goal cut the Ohio State lead to just 21-20.

But as they had throughout their three-game run, the Buckeyes leaned on Elliott to get them the rest of the way home. He scored touchdowns of 9, 2, and 1 yard to seal the title.

2019: No. 1 Ohio State 34, No. 8 Wisconsin 21

It didn’t end up leading to a national championship, but at the time it could have. And it also made Ohio State the first program to ever win three consecutive outright Big Ten championships.

A lot like the Alabama game discussed above, the Buckeyes came out of the game a little slowly. Playing a top-15 team for the third consecutive week, OSU was behind 21-7 at the half.

But the second half was all Buckeyes.

Justin Fields hit Jeremy Ruckert on the first possession of the third quarter to make it 21-14. Then a Blake Haubeil field goal trimmed the deficit to 21-17.

OSU grabbed its first lead of the evening on a 16-yard pass from Fields to KJ Hill with 2:23 left in the third quarter to make it 24-21.

Then another Fields-to-Hill connection stretched the advantage to 31-21, before Haubeil added a final three points.

The win was enough to make the Buckeyes back-to-back-to-back Big Ten champions, but it wasn’t enough to hang on to the No. 1 ranking in the College Football Playoff.

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    I remember watching the Minnesota game and thinking that the Buckeyes were never out of it because they were beating themselves in the first half. Lots of turnovers, penalties, etc., and Minnesota wasn’t doing much on their own. If I remember correctly, at the time this game tied the record for biggest come from behind victory in all of major college football.

    I live in Hong Kong and can tell you social/physical distancing works. Many, if not most of the local Covid-19 infections here are from clusters associated with religious facilities, family parties, weddings and people going to bars and nightclubs. Also, the best advice I have heard is that everyone should act as if they are infected and try to prevent infecting people who are more vulnerable. The message I meant to convey in my comment a while ago in response to James Mills complaining about the cancelling of the Spring football game because someone stubbed their toe was that everyone is connected and in this together, so please think of the bigger picture and be safe.

  2. Great romp down memory, even if it regurgitates Cooper’s pathetic coaching. Down 38-6 v. Minn in 1989., why go for 2 in 2nd qtr.? A lucky conversion to save a bit of momentum.

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