Sept. 29, 1979

Each week, Gameday+ takes a look at an Ohio State game played on this date:

Ohio State 17, UCLA 13

Setup: The story of this Ohio State season has been the play of first-year starting quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., he of the 16 touchdown passes and 1,194 yards and 75.7 completion percentage in four games. Haskins has been a revelation, yes, but it’s not the first time Sliced Bread took snaps from center at OSU. Thirty-nine years ago, its name was Art Schlichter, and the sophomore gunslinger was a case of dynamite as the Buckeyes played themselves into the national-title picture. A week 4 matchup against No. 17-ranked UCLA in smog-plagued Los Angeles, however, would be OSU’s first test in coach Earle Bruce’s first season.

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Stars: Schlichter, who had an uneven freshman season as a starter for Woody Hayes, engineered a winning 80-yard drive in 95 seconds late in the fourth quarter. He finished with 168 yards passing and the go-ahead touchdown pass with 46 seconds remaining. Tailback Calvin Murray added 117 yards rushing and a 34-yard TD run in the second quarter.

Turning point: Taking over at the OSU 20-yard line after a missed field goal with 2:21 remaining, Schlichter completed 6 of 6 passes for 62 yards on the eight-play drive. Included were a 21-yard dart to Gary Williams on an out pattern to move the ball to the UCLA 3, and, on second-and-goal, a 2-yard flip to fullback-turned-tight end Paul Campbell with 46 seconds left. UCLA’s last gasp ended when Mike Guess intercepted Rick Bashore with four seconds remaining.

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Impact: Ohio State had its signature win and began climbing in the polls, rising from No. 14 to No. 8 after the UCLA game and then on up the ladder to No. 1 after the Buckeyes beat Michigan in Todd Bell’s Block Party. That ensured a return trip to LA, against No. 3 USC in the Rose Bowl, but this time the Trojans pulled off the late drive to win 17-16.

Quotable: “That’s when the money, marbles and chalk are on the table, and this kid’s picking them up.” — ABC broadcaster Keith Jackson, describing Schlichter on the winning drive

Ray Stein / rstein@dispatch.com