Gameday+ | Rearview mirror: Oct. 27, 1951, Ohio State vs. Iowa

Staff Writer
Buckeye Xtra

Oct. 27, 1951

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

Ohio State 47, Iowa 21

Setup: Are you among those who feel that the current Ohio State football team is in the midst of an existential offensive identity crisis? Then hop aboard the time machine to 1951, when first-year coach Woody Hayes created a massive mess for the Buckeyes. Under Wes Fesler the year before, OSU had averaged 31.8 points and produced the 1950 Heisman Trophy winner in halfback Vic Janowicz. But after Hayes ditched the single wing for a T-formation attack, the Buckeyes more resembled three-legged mules, scoring just 10.7 points per game in a 1-2-1 start. With morale low and Janowicz limited to kicking duties with sore ribs, Hayes decided to switch quarterbacks for the Iowa game, installing Bill Wilks over Tony Curcillo, who was ineffective in an upset loss to Indiana the week before.

Stars: Ineffective my eye! Curcillo returned to QB from fullback when Wilks was shaken up and proceeded to produce six touchdowns — two on the ground and four more on passes to Doug Goodsell, Bob Grimes, Ralph Armstrong and Bob Joslin. Curcillo completed 10 of 14 passes for 292 yards. Joslin and Grimes each topped 100 yards receiving.

Turning point: Iowa appeared to break a scoreless tie with a touchdown pass in the first quarter but the Hawkeyes were flagged for illegal motion, leading to a missed field goal. Ohio State then scored on four of its next five possessions before halftime to take a 27-0 lead.

Impact: As it turned out, OSU’s offensive fireworks against Iowa was a one-trick pony. The Buckeyes went 2-1-1 down the stretch to finish the season with a middling 4-3-2 record but scored only 19 points in those games and 109 for the season. Any math major can point out that 43.1 percent of Ohio State’s points in 1951 came in one game.

Quotable: “With all due respect to Curcillo, if we’d tackled as good as my young daughter, he wouldn’t have had such a good day.” — Iowa coach Len Raffensperger, who either had a rough-and-tumble daughter or a lousy defense

Ray Stein /

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