Ohio State football was birthed in 1890, which means the Buckeyes have blessed and cursed their fans with plenty of remarkable, game-changing, season-saving, misery-inducing and just plain famous plays over the program’s history.
Today we look at another of those memorable moments.
Brent Musburger wasn’t especially popular among most Ohio State fans. Whether it was his over-the-top, bordering-on-phony exuberance or, more likely, his perceived but never proved bias against OSU, the broadcaster, who worked for ABC at the time, was viewed as just another talking head who enjoyed dissing the Buckeyes.
If Musburger was not the dastardly Mark May or Dan "Terrible Call" Fouts, he also was not Gus Johnson gushing over the scarlet and gray.
Yet without Musburger’s memorable call of the 2002 Purdue game when No. 3 and undefeated Ohio State escaped the unranked Boilermakers 10-6 in West Lafayette, Indiana there would be no two-word tag sewn into the psyche of fans who consider Holy Buckeye the most impacting play in program history.
Some fans likely fail to realize how Holy Buckeye was born, that the expression came not from some marketing firm but from Musburger, who was almost hyperventilating as Ohio State lined up at the Purdue 37-yard line, trailing 6-3 and facing a fourth-and-1 with 1:44 remaining:
"It could be up to the offensive line …"
"In those moments, you don’t have time to be nervous," former quarterback Craig Krenzel said recently while recalling the pass play King Right 64 Y Shallow Swap that backup quarterback Scott McMullen signaled from the sideline. "Successful teams and individuals can harness what limited brain power they have in any given moment to focus on how to succeed."
"No, Krenzel is going to throw for it …"
"One of the greatest attributes of Craig as a teammate was his moxie," said Ben Hartsock, the former Ohio State tight end who was Krenzel’s first option on the fourth-down play. One play prior, Hartsock had gained 13 yards on the same drag route run to the other side of the field.
"He’s gotta get it off. They go for the ballgame …"
"We looked at Craig and he never wilted in the huddle," Hartsock added.
Barking out a check-down, Krenzel was not looking for the home run ball to wide receiver Michael Jenkins.
"There was plenty of time to finish the drive. All we needed was a first down; just a yard and a half," Krenzel said.
But Hartsock was blanketed by Purdue safety Stuart Schweigert, likely because of the catch on the previous play.
"From there, I knew Mike was one-on-one," Krenzel said.
Jenkins does not get enough credit for being one of Ohio State’s most productive receivers. Despite playing in a relatively conservative offense, Jenkins is the school’s all-time leader in receiving yards (2,898) and ranks fourth in career receptions (165).
Finding Hartsock covered, Krenzel stepped up in the pocket and threw deep to Jenkins, who had a step on cornerback Antwaun Rogers.
"Touchdown! Touchdown! Michael Jenkins! On fourth-and-1, would you believe it? Craig Krenzel strikes with a minute-and-a-half left … Holy Buckeye!"
"He was one of my teammates from little league football," Jenkins said of Rogers. "He hates being reminded of (the touchdown)."
Ohio State fans can’t be reminded enough of the play that encapsulated 2002.
"That whole season was a roller-coaster mixture of emotions," Jenkins said. "We had hard-fought battles every week, really all the way back to the Cincinnati game that happened early."
Having experienced so many close calls half of the 14 wins were decided by seven points or fewer the pressure on fourth-and-1 felt normal to Jenkins. So did the play. The Buckeyes had run it hundreds of times during practice, though against Purdue Jenkins altered his route to a "go" after seeing teammate Chris Gamble enter the same area.
"You just hope the ball is coming your way," he said.
Jenkins doesn’t recall the first time he heard Musburger’s touchdown call on tape. He sort of remembers his father saying something about it soon after the game. But he knows he’ll be hearing about "Holy Buckeye" the rest of his life.