Jack looks back | Ohio State to play first Friday night regular-season game in 60 years

Jack Park For The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Chris Olave (17) catches a 29-yard touchdown behind Northwestern Wildcats defensive back Alonzo Mayo (10) during the third quarter of the Big Ten Championship at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Dec. 1, 2018. [Adam Cairns]

Ohio State carries its 12-game winning streak to Evanston for a rare Friday night game with Northwestern.

Friday’s game will be the 78th in this series. Ohio State has dominated with a record of 62-14-1. OSU has won 31 of the last 32, outscoring the Wildcats 1,236-314. The lone setback in this string was a night game at Evanston, Illinois, in 2004, 33-27 in overtime.

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The two have played 42 games in Columbus (OSU 34-8) and 33 at Evanston (OSU 26-6-1). The 1991 game was played at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, where Ohio State won 34-3. OSU and NW also met in last year’s Big Ten championship game at Indianapolis, with the Buckeyes prevailing 45-24.

Ohio State last played a Friday night regular-season game on Oct. 2, 1959. The Buckeyes lost 17-0 to the clearly superior Southern California Trojans at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Led by the McKeever twins, Mike and Marlin, USC’s defense limited Ohio State to just 84 yards on the ground and 59 yards through the air. In addition to the humiliating shutout, Ohio State experienced a sound physical beating. Seventeen players were hurt, and the injuries subsequently limited the playing time of many for the remainder of the 1959 season.

Northwestern enjoyed much success during the late 1950s and early 1960s under coach Ara Parseghian. His Wildcats stunned Woody Hayes’ 1958 squad at Evanston 21-0, handing the fifth-ranked Buckeyes their only loss of the season. It also was Ohio State’s first setback in 15 games, and it prevented the Buckeyes from repeating as Big Ten champions. Parseghian’s teams were also victorious at Ohio Stadium in 1962 and 1963 by scores of 18-14 and 17-8.

Ohio State’s 1946 trip to Northwestern produced one of the series’ wildest games. Coach Paul Bixler’s Buckeyes won 39-27. It was the first Ohio State game with both teams scoring in each of the four quarters, as follows:

The lead changed hands three times and the score was tied twice. Ohio State was not assured of the victory until linebacker Tony Adamle returned an interception 15 yards to the Wildcat 30-yard line, setting up OSU’s sixth and final touchdown with 3:25 remaining. The Buckeyes led in first downs 19-8 and in total offense yards 424-268. Each team threw three interceptions and lost two fumbles.

The 1916 game, played at old Ohio Field along North High Street, was likely the most significant between the two schools. It was Ohio State’s homecoming, and both teams entered this season-ending contest with records of 6-0. The winner would emerge with its school’s first Big Ten title.

Ohio State led 3-0 at halftime on a 34-yard field goal by halfback Chic Harley. Early in the final quarter, Northwestern tied score when Paddy Driscoll drop-kicked a low bullet from the OSU 38 that just cleared the crossbar. Midway through the final quarter, Harley sent the crowd into an uproar with a 63-yard touchdown run around right end. The blocking was excellent, and coach John Wilce often referred to this run as “the perfect play.”

Harley scored another touchdown on a 15-yard sweep, and fullback Frank Sorensen plunged two yards for the game’s final score. With this 23-3 victory, Ohio State completed its first undefeated and untied season and won its first Big Ten title. Harley and tackle Bob Karch were named to the 1916 All-America team.