Jack Park: Spartans dealt Woody Hayes his first Ohio State loss

Jack Park For The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State Buckeyes All American halfback Vic Janowicz (2nd from right) polishes off lunch between 2-a-day drills while teammates try to keep up with him. (Source: Acme Newspictures Collection in the Dispatch Library.) Sept. 7, 1951.

Ohio State will travel to East Lansing Saturday to collide with always tough Michigan State. The Buckeyes lead the all time series at 31-15 (67.4%), but OSU’s record is noticeably better on the road than at home. The Scarlet and Gray are 16-5 (76.2%) in games at Spartan Stadium and 15-9 in Columbus (62.5%). Additionally, MSU won 34-24 in the Big Ten title game played at Indianapolis in 2013. The Buckeyes have won the last six games played at East Lansing and 9 of the last 10. They are 2-2 over the last four at Ohio Stadium. 

OSU head coach Urban Meyer is 4-2 against MSU (3-0 at Spartan Stadium). Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio is 3-6 against the Buckeyes as MSU head coach, including a record of 0-4 at home. Ohio State won 48-3 in Columbus last season. The 45 point margin of victory is the largest by either school in the entire series. The second largest margin is OSU’s 42-0 home victory in 1979, Earle’s Bruce’s first season as head coach.    

Michigan State began play as a member of the Big Ten in 1953, replacing the University of Chicago who withdrew from the conference after the 1939 season. The Buckeyes had twice lost to the Spartans in non-conference games prior to 1953. The first was Thanksgiving Day of 1912 at old Ohio Field along North High Street, 35-20, and the second at Ohio Stadium in 1951, 24-20.

Michigan State was the nation’s top-ranked team when it traveled to Columbus in 1951 to face the Buckeyes of first-year coach Woody Hayes. Ohio State was ranked seventh. In an extremely competitive contest, OSU held a 20-17 lead late in the final period and appeared to be close to claiming the school’s very first victory over a top-ranked opponent. The Spartans then recovered an Ohio State fumble at the OSU 45.

MSU was soon faced with a fourth-and-six at the OSU 28. Head coach Biggie Munn inserted reserve quarterback Tom Yewsic, a sophomore, at left halfback. Quarterback Al Dorrow lateraled to Yewsic who ran to his right, stopped suddenly, then passed back across the field to Dorrow. Dorrow then eluded two Ohio State defenders before falling across the goal line with the winning touchdown and the 24-20 victory. It was Hayes’ first setback as head coach at Ohio State.

This extraordinary play, soon to be known as the "transcontinental pass," had been drawn-up on the sidelines by Munn just seconds before it was executed. It was Yewsic's very first collegiate pass. Two of Ohio State's touchdowns were scored by end Ray Hamilton, the first on a 19-yard pass from halfback Vic Janowicz and the second with a 25-yard throw from quarterback Tony Curcillo.

Michigan State finished the 1951 season at 9-0, good for second place in the final Associated Press poll behind national champion Tennessee at 10-0.  The Buckeyes ended Hayes’ first year at 4-3-2.

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