Nov. 24, 2001

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

Ohio State 26, Michigan 20

Setup: When did the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry first turn on its heels and begin running the other way? Was it on this day 17 years ago, when the nine-point-underdog Buckeyes played above their heads despite missing suspended quarterback Steve Bellisari? Or was the seed planted the January prior, when new coach Jim Tressel introduced himself to OSU fans by proclaiming that they would be “proud of our young people in the classroom, in the community and, most especially, in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Michigan”? After a foul-tasting 3-12-1 record against the Wolverines over the previous 16 years, Ohio State fans were willing to believe, but proof would have been nice, just sayin’.

 

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Stars: Tailback Jonathan Wells rushed for 129 yards and three first-half touchdowns, including a memorable 46-yard jaunt on fourth-and-1, as the Buckeyes improbably built a 23-0 halftime lead. With 118 yards passing, QB Craig Krenzel was just the game-manager the Tresselball doctor ordered. Michigan’s second-half comeback was spurred by Marquise Walker, who had 15 receptions for 160 yards and two scores.

Turning point: In part because of Wells’ leg cramps, Ohio State buttoned it way down after halftime, managing a mere 74 yards and one first down. But a Mike Doss interception — the Buckeyes’ fifth forced turnover — led to a Mike Nugent field goal with 5:58 remaining, pushing OSU’s lead to 26-13. Michigan was able to get one TD back, but Chris Vance recovered the onside kick to help the Buckeyes hold on for dear life — and a first retaliatory slap of the Wolverines.

Impact: The rivalry hasn’t been the same since — and Ohio State followers are loving it. The Buckeyes are 15-2 against Michigan since 2001, although the whispers (and oddsmakers) suggest that the Wolverines are primed for some payback.

Quotable: “They’ve been disrespecting us a lot, telling us that we’re not the rival team they play. Well, you know, if it wasn’t a rivalry, then it is now.” — Wells

“The last 15 minutes? It (felt like) about 310 days.” — Tressel

 

Ray Stein / rstein@dispatch.com