On this date in Ohio State football: Oct. 24, 1970

Ray Stein
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State running back Leo Hayden [File photo]

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

Ohio State 48, Illinois 29


Ohio State traveled to Illinois and learned that Illini coach Jim Valek had been fired the day before the game, effective midnight that Saturday. Coach Woody Hayes did not take kindly to such harsh treatment to a member of the brotherhood, which bothered him more than how the inspired Illini nearly upset the No. 1 Buckeyes.

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Quarterback Rex Kern rushed for 93 yards, including a 76-yard scoring burst in the second quarter, and passed for 99 yards and a touchdown. John Brockington added 76 yards rushing and three TDs as OSU rushed for 347 yards. Tailback Darrell Robinson was a workhorse for Illinois, rushing for 187 yards on 43 carries.

Turning point

Illinois led 20-14 at halftime and 23-21 well into the third quarter when Brockington returned a kickoff 56 yards, then capped a 29-yard drive with a 5-yard scoring run to give OSU the lead for good. Brockington (11 yards), Leo Hayden (31) and Jim Coburn (1) added fourth-quarter TD runs as the Buckeyes stretched their margin.


The game marked the 15th consecutive time that Ohio State had entered a game as the nation's No. 1 team, dating to the Jan. 1, 1969, Rose Bowl. It also was the last until 1973. The Buckeyes dropped in the polls after the tight squeeze but entered the Rose Bowl against Stanford with an unbeaten record. That didn't work out so well. Neither did Illinois' attempt to fire Valek in the middle of the season. Players threatened a revolt, the administration relented — and then fired him after the season.


"If what I hear is true, that Illinois coach Jim Valek has been fired, then I deserve to be fired, because he outcoached me today. If they fired him for the reason that his kids wouldn't play ball for him, they fired him under false pretenses." — an angry Hayes, after the game.