On this date in Ohio State football: Nov. 12, 1949

Ray Stein
Ohio State running back Fred “Curly” Morrison during the 1950 season [File photo]

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

Ohio State 30, Illinois 17

Setup: In its first 51 years, Ohio State played in one postseason game, the 1921 Rose Bowl. It was 29 years before the Buckeyes sniffed another, and an early-season loss to Minnesota in that 1949 season meant they would get only a faint whiff of another Rose bid unless they closed the season in strong fashion.

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Stars: Fred “Curly” Morrison rushed for 103 yards, newcomer Vic Janowicz added 102 yards of offense, and Pandel Savic passed for 126 yards and two touchdowns as Ohio State rallied from a 10-0 halftime deficit. Billy Newell had one of three Ohio State interceptions, leading to a clinching touchdown.

Turning point: Touchdowns by Ralph Armstrong and Janowicz in the third quarter propelled the Buckeyes into a 14-10 lead, but Illinois’ Johnny Karras returned a kickoff 95 yards to send the Illini back in front. After an exchange of punts, Savic hit Ray Hamilton on a 37-yard scoring pass to give the Buckeyes the lead for good at 21-17. Two plays after Newell’s pick, Morrison raced 36 yards for the clinching score.

Impact: Beating the Illini put Ohio State in a tie atop the Big Ten and set up a winner-take-all finale at Michigan. The Buckeyes didn’t need to win outright, though, and their 7-7 tie against the fifth-ranked Wolverines sent them to Pasadena. There, Ohio State toppled California 17-14 on Jimmy Hague’s late field goal.

Quotable: “To me, the whole story of the game was a lot of great courage by a lot of great kids. I’ve been connected with many football teams in my time, but I’ve never been connected with a team that had more courage than ours did today.” — Ohio State coach Wes Fesler

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