On this date in Ohio State football: Nov. 30, 1963

Ray Stein
Ohio State coach Woody Hayes sprints down the sideline to protest an official’s call during the 1963 game against Michigan. [The Detroit News]

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

Ohio State 14, Michigan 10

Setup: Since 1935, when Ohio State and Michigan began meeting in each school’s regular-season finale, remarkably few games have been played with no implications on the Big Ten race or the national scene. But never has The Game been “just a game” to its participants and fans more than it was 56 years ago today. The game was originally scheduled for Nov. 23, and even then it was anticlimactic: OSU had been eliminated from the Big Ten race the week before with a 17-8 loss to Northwestern and was in an offensive funk, to boot, having scored only 22 points in its previous three games. Michigan was a middling 3-3-2 overall, 2-2-2 in the conference. So Michigan Stadium figured to be about two-thirds full, at best. But then on the Friday before the game, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed as his motorcade passed through the streets of Dallas. Most college football games were postponed, and some canceled. The NCAA left it up to individual schools to decide. In the case of Ohio State and Michigan, athletic directors punted the decision to school presidents, who announced at 9:15 Saturday morning that the game scheduled for kickoff at 1:30 p.m. would be postponed until the following Saturday.

Stars: Ohio State quarterback Don Unverferth shed the inconsistency that had defined his sophomore season by accounting for both touchdowns, one on a deep pass to Paul Warfield and the other on a 5-yard sweep around left end for the winning points in the fourth quarter. Unverferth passed for 105 yards and rushed for 52 more. Warfield, showing the receiver skills that would make him a Pro Football Hall of Famer, caught five passes for 76 yards, and halfback Don Harkins sealed the win with two defensive stops in the final minutes.

Turning point: After Unverferth’s TD gave the Buckeyes a 14-10 lead with 7:20 remaining, Michigan drove to the OSU 11-yard line inside of two minutes. But Harkins batted down Bob Timberlake’s fourth-down pass to Craig Kirby. The Wolverines then forced an Ohio State punt, but Harkins intercepted Timberlake to seal the victory. The Buckeyes had won a thriller, though only 36,424 were on hand.

Impact: The win allowed Ohio State to tie Michigan State for second place in the Big Ten with a 4-1-1 record. Beyond that, it gave coach Woody Hayes his fourth consecutive victory over Michigan and allowed Hayes to avoid his first three-game losing streak with the Buckeyes. Both streaks soon ended — Michigan won 10-0 in 1964, and Ohio State lost three in a row early in the 1966 season.

Quotable: The squad was unusually quiet at Friday night’s dinner. The stunned unrealness and sorrow of the afternoon held. Woody tried to lighten the atmosphere. “How many of you have seen 1,000 (sic) League Under the Sea?” he asked. Half a dozen hands went up. “Then you won’t mind seeing it again.” — Account in The Dispatch on the day after the Nov. 23 game was postponed

Ray Stein /