On this date in Ohio State football: Sept. 14, 1974

Ray Stein
Buckeye Xtra
Archie Griffin, shown breaking the Big Ten rushing record against Indiana on Oct. 19, 1974, set the Ohio State rushing mark in the opener that season against Minnesota. [Dispatch file photo]

Taking a look back at a game Ohio State played on this date:

Ohio State 34, Minnesota 19

Setup: The 1974 season was pretty much the zenith of the Ohio State football program under coach Woody Hayes, so bursting with talent was that Buckeyes locker room. But the mid-1970s were strange times, and Hayes was on edge as the ’74 campaign began at Minnesota, OSU’s first road opener in 80 years. For one thing, the Old Man (61 at the time) had confronted an old-man problem over the summer, suffering a mild heart attack in June. Then his buddy Richard Nixon had been forced to resign as president in August. To top it off, Hayes found agitation in a Sports Illustrated article, published just before the season, that his Buckeyes over the years had, um, benefited from fat-cat donors such as businessman John Galbreath. Hayes chafed at the notion; everyone knew those fences at Darby Dan Farm needed fresh paint once a week. Regardless, he and the Buckeyes welcomed the return of football season, starting against three-touchdown underdog Minnesota.

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Stars: Despite playing in only his 23rd varsity game, junior Archie Griffin became Ohio State’s all-time leading rusher, surpassing Howard Cassady and Jim Otis with a 133-yard effort. Five other Buckeyes totaled 40 yards or more on the ground, including quarterback Cornelius “Flam” Greene, who had 77 yards rushing and another 136 yards through the air on 9-of-12 passing. Had Woody swallowed a handful of chill pills, letting him throw that much?

Turning point: OSU had cruised to a 28-3 lead early in the fourth quarter, but two Buckeyes boo-boos — a Griffin lost fumble on his record-setting run and a botched punt snap that forced Tom Skladany to try an ill-advised scramble — led to 16 Gophers points to make it 28-19 with 5:14 remaining. But the fleet Greene sailed untouched down the right sideline for a 57-yard score to restore order with 1:17 to go.

Impact: Minnesota’s 19-point effort ended up being the season high scored against the mighty Buckeyes, who rose to No. 1 in the polls after thrashing Oregon State the next week. After the Gophers, OSU allowed an average of 10 points per game the rest of the way, but 16 against Michigan State and 18 against USC in the Rose Bowl added up to a two-loss season.

Quotable: “I always get excited in a game, but it’s when they print things that aren’t true in national magazines that can give a man heart attacks.” — Hayes, on how he handled the intensity of the game

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