On this date in Ohio State football: Oct. 18, 1941
Taking a look back at a game Ohio State played on this date:
Ohio State 16, Purdue 14
Setup: The honeymoon that Ryan Day is enjoying in his first full season as Ohio State coach is well-deserved, though hardly unprecedented in the annals of the school’s football history. Day stands fourth in the OSU record book for having won his first nine games, but perhaps no coach felt the love for merely signing a contract to coach the Buckeyes the way Paul Brown did in 1941. Coming off the seven-year tenure of Francis Schmidt, which started with promise and devolved into near chaos by the end, Brown’s hiring was seen as a saving grace for the program. Brown was everything Schmidt was not, including young (he was 32 at the time) and disciplined. He had no prior college coaching experience, but his Massillon High School teams won 80 of 90 games in his nine seasons. Brown enjoyed near-unanimous support from the state’s high school coaches, to say nothing of fans and sportswriters. He was hired in January 1941 and won his first two games — 12-7 at home against Missouri and 33-0 at Southern California. Brown’s Buckeyes joined the top 10 before hosting Purdue in rainy Ohio Stadium in the new coach’s Big Ten debut.
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Stars: Ohio State’s Jim Daniell blocked a first-quarter punt that rolled out of the end zone for a safety — two points that would loom large. Jack Graf and Charlie Anderson added touchdowns to give the Buckeyes a 16-0 halftime lead, but the Boilermakers controlled the second half behind two TDs from fullback John Petty. OSU’s Dick Fisher had a fumble recovery and an interception, but his 78-yard punt return for a score in the third quarter was wiped out by penalty.
Turning point: Petty’s second touchdown closed Purdue’s gap to 16-14 with 56 seconds remaining, so all the Buckeyes had to do was secure the kickoff and run two plays to escape with a victory.
Impact: Brown’s modest three-game winning streak ended the next week in a 14-7 loss to Northwestern — a team led by Otto Graham, who later became Brown’s quarterback with the Cleveland Browns. Still, Brown’s first OSU team finished 6-1-1, setting the table for a national-title run the next season.
Quotable: “We’re glad we won, but we’re not very proud of the way we won it.” — Brown
“When somebody says ‘moral victory’ to me, I feel like punching them right in the nose, because there isn’t such a thing.” — Purdue coach Mal Elward