On this date in Ohio State football: Sept. 16, 1978

Ray Stein
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State quarterback Art Schlichter looks downfield for a receiver in the 1980 Fiesta Bowl against Penn State. [File photo]

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

Penn State 19, Ohio State 0

Setup: Some among the younger set of Ohio State fans might consider last week's dud against Oklahoma as a calamity for the ages, but history buffs will recall an uglier defeat in a home opener. The Buckeyes opened their 1978 season against Penn State with a swirl of mystery as to who would start at quarterback, two-year incumbent Rod Gerald or heralded freshman gunslinger Art Schlichter. Coach Woody Hayes kept his choice a secret until game time.

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Stars: Well, it wasn't Schlichter, who bombed in his debut by throwing five interceptions. He finished 12 of 26 for 182 yards. OSU's stars were on defense, with linebacker Tom Cousineau in on 29 tackles and Todd Bell and Gary Dulin each recording three tackles for a loss. For Penn State, Matt Suhey rushed for 96 yards and the game's only touchdown and Matt Bahr kicked four field goals.

Turning point: On OSU's third possession, Schlichter hit his new receiver, Gerald, for a 50-yard gain to the Nittany Lions 22. But Gerald was separated from the ball by Pete Harris and Rick Donaldson recovered, one of eight turnovers committed by the Buckeyes. When Suhey bulled in from 3 yards to complete an 80-yard drive late in the third quarter, the outcome was all but sealed.

Impact: OSU attempted 34 passes against Penn State but only seven the next week at Minnesota. Still, Schlichter finished his freshman year with 1,250 passing yards, the most for a Buckeyes QB since 1952, but OSU suffered through an uneven season that included a tie against SMU and an upset loss at Purdue. Schlichter finished the season with 21 interceptions, a record that still stands. His last, against Clemson in the Gator Bowl, infuriated Hayes to the point of assault.

Quotable: "When you get into the passing game you can expect that sort of thing to happen. We've got to go back and establish our running game, but we can do that." — Hayes