Jack looks back | Ryan Day enjoying impressive start at Ohio State

Jack Park For The Columbus Dispatch
Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day leads the team onto the field prior to the NCAA football game against the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2019. [Adam Cairns]

First-year Ohio State coach Ryan Day is 8-0 as his team prepares for visiting Maryland on Saturday. Day is the Buckeyes’ 25th head coach since Ohio State fielded its first team in 1890. Only three have started their OSU careers with longer winning streaks.

Urban Meyer’s teams won their first 24 games, going 12-0 in 2012 and winning their first 12 games in 2013. The string was broken with a 34-24 loss to Michigan State in the 2013 Big Ten championship game, played on Dec. 7 in Indianapolis. Key victories during the 24-game streak were a 21-14 overtime win at Wisconsin in 2012 and a 42-41 triumph at Michigan in 2013.

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Carroll Widdoes guided the Buckeyes to 12 straight victories after being named acting coach in 1944. Ohio State was 9-0 that season and won its first three games of 1945 before losing 35-13 at home to Purdue. Significant wins were a 18-14 come-from-behind triumph over Michigan at home in 1944 and 12-0 over visiting Wisconsin in 1945.

Widdoes had replaced Paul Brown, who entered the Navy after the 1943 season. Brown was expected to return to his head coaching position at the conclusion of World War II. On Feb. 8, 1945, Brown informed Ohio State that he would become coach of the newly formed Cleveland Browns at the conclusion of the war and would therefore not return to Ohio State.

Widdoes was immediately named head coach but resigned after the 1945 season because of the pressure of the position.

Earle Bruce became coach in 1979, replacing Woody Hayes, who had held the position for 28 seasons. Bruce’s first OSU team won its first 11 games before losing the Rose Bowl to Southern California 17-16. Two major come-from-behind victories that year were 17-13 at UCLA and 18-15 at Michigan. Bruce was chosen college football’s coach of the year. He is the last OSU coach to receive this honor.

Victories during Meyer’s first 24 games at Ohio State is also the school’s longest winning streak. His teams also put together a 23-game victory string, winning the last 13 games of 2014 and the first 10 of 2015. In addition to snapping Meyer’s 24-game string in 2013, Michigan State also broke the 23-game streak with a 17-14 triumph at Ohio Stadium on Nov. 21, 2015.

Ohio State’s third longest victory streak is 22 games under coach Woody Hayes. The Buckeyes won the last four games of 1967, went 10-0 in 1968 and posted eight wins in 1969 before losing at Michigan 24-12. The setback at Michigan is arguably the most significant in school history. The Buckeyes were 17-point favorites and needed a victory to secure their second consecutive national title. Bo Schembechler was in his first season as coach of the Wolverines.

This major upset was the beginning of the “Ten Year War” between Hayes and Schembechler, with Schembechler holding a slight edge at 5-4-1.

Ohio State twice had 19-game winning streaks while Jim Tressel was coach. His 2002 squad captured the national title with a record of 14-0 and his 2003 team won its first five games. Wisconsin broke the streak with a 17-10 victory at Madison on Oct. 11, 2003.

Tressel’s teams were victorious over their last seven games of 2005 and first 12 of 2006. The string was snapped in the national championship game in Phoenix with a 41-14 loss to Florida. The Gators were coached by Meyer, would take the reins of the Ohio State program in 2012.