Those Were The Days - Ohio State

Nov 27, 2020

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I'm traveling right now so I'm pretty happy that Tyler gets to write about... whatever that basketball game was. He had to travel right after the game so his story won't be up until tonight. For now, I'll just quickly post Detlef's latest TWWD.

And I only have a few minutes here so I couldn't even proofread this one. So if Detlef did one of his "let's march with torches and pitchforks to Ron Guenther's house" things, I apologize for not screening it out this time.

Illinois hosts Ohio State on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Hopefully Ohio State gorged itself on stuffing and cranberry pie so the Illini can make the Buckeyes look like turkeys. We all recall the joy of the 2007 win at #1 Ohio State and the wonderful scenes of Ron Zook playing riverboat gambler on the UI 33 on fourth down & inches, Juice Williams slaying the Buckeyes with his four touchdown passes and fourth quarter quarterback draws, Mike Ware giving J Leman a ride on his shoulders, Zook's emotional post-game interview with the lovely Bonnie Bernstein, and the pandemonium in the Illinois locker room contrasted with the silence of 100,000+ Buckeye fans in the Horseshoe. An instant Illini Classic that also represented vindication for Ron Zook against his critics who said he could not coach. I'd like to see Illibuck return to his rightful home sometime soon!

However, this week's story is a history lesson from Professor Detlef to the youngsters out there. Kids, get out your notebooks! The last time Illinois beat Ohio State in Champaign, consider the following:

  1. Professor Detlef was a UI sophomore, living in Snyder Hall.

  2. Mariah Carey topped the charts with her song "Emotions."

  3. Illinois had a real "Football Guy" as Athletic Director: my guy John Mackovic.

  4. The Co-Ed Theater on Green Street was still in business.

  5. Research Park was a bunch of vacant land.

  6. The ladies loved dancing with Robert at Cochrane's.

Yes, it was that long ago. It is time to end this misery. As David Lee Roth says in that Van Halen song "Hot For Teacher" "CLASS DISMISSED!!!!!!!!!!!" BEAT OHIO STATE.

October 12, 1991: Illinois entered the game at 3-1, 1-0 in Big Ten play and feeling confident since Illinois had beaten Ohio State the three prior seasons. However, this Ohio State team entered the game at 4-0 and ranked 11th. Illinois started out with a flourish as Jason Verduzco led the Illini on an 88-yard touchdown drive, capped by Darren Boyer's seven-yard touchdown run. However, both offenses scuffled after that. The only other scoring threat before halftime came when Ohio State drove to the Illinois three-yard line. However, Kirk "I never beat Illinois" Herbstreit pitched the ball to Butler By'not'e (my all-time favorite football name) and the ball went off his pads. Julyon Brown recovered to stop that scoring threat. So the score stood 7-0 Illinois at halftime. Perhaps Ohio State alumnus Bernie Lincicome said it best about ESPN's beloved Herbie, describing his performance as "floundering like wet laundry in a windstorm."

After halftime, Ohio State replaced Herbstreit with Wheaton North product Kent Graham, who had transferred from Notre Dame. Graham injected some life into the Buckeyes, finishing 7-11 passing for 130 yards. However, the defenses continued to lock down the offenses, and the game remained 7-0 entering the fourth quarter. Both offenses continued to be dominated. With 3:47 left in the game, Ohio State went for it on fourth down at the UI 48. Graham's pass fell incomplete and now Illinois needed to run out the clock for the win.

On first down, Kameno Bell got the carry and appeared headed for a touchdown. However, a Buckeye stripped the football from behind and the Buckeyes recovered at the Ohio State 35. "There was a wide hole and I wanted to keep the chains moving," said Bell. "You can't really make cuts with two hands on the ball. As soon as I put the ball in one hand, someone hit it from behind."

Ohio State took advantage in just two plays. First, the Illinois defense tipped Graham's pass into the hands of receiver Bernard Edwards, who was lying on his back at the Illinois 44! Next, Graham threw a pass to Joey Galloway down the sideline. Filmel Johnson went for the interception and missed. Galloway literally high-stepped into the end zone like he was dotting the "I" in script O-h-i-o. The 44-yard touchdown pass was Galloway's only catch.

Now with the game tied at 7-7, three minutes remained. Head Coach John Cooper decided to kick off. Illinois had to go into a stiff wind and Ohio State thought it would get the football back, given the stout play of its defense. Illinois had other ideas. Jason Verduzco had to dink and dunk down the field all day. Starting at the UI 27, Illinois moved the football and bled the clock dry. Bell ran for sixteen yards on the first play. With third down and seven from the UI 46, Verduzco (28-41 passing, 272 yards) threw to Elbert Turner, who caught the twelve-yard pass over the middle despite taking a tremendous hit. Verduzco kept throwing short passes, the last one to Bell (12 catches for 89 yards) for a first down at the Ohio State 32. On fourth down at the Buckeye 24, Verduzco waited until the game clock got to 0:41 and called time out.

Redshirt freshman Chris Richardson trotted onto the field to attempt a field goal to give Illinois the win. A large man at 6"4", 250 pounds, Richardson had to kick into a stiff breeze and ignore the taunts of the opposition. "They were saying some uncomplimentary things about my mom. They knew everything about me, how much I weigh, my body fat." The snap was a tad high, but John Wright Jr. got the ball down. Richardson's kick sailed towards the crossbar and made it over, sending Memorial Stadium into a loud uproar. "I thought it was going to fall short. Wright was yelling it was good and people were jumping on me, but I wasn't sure until the referees called it." However, Ohio State took the kickoff and got decent field position. By'not'e rumbled 33 yards until John Holocek tackled him, ending the game.

Illinois now stood at 4-1, 2-0 in the Big Ten and enjoying a four-game winning streak (1992 extended it to five) over Ohio State. Defensively, Dana Howard led Illinois with 24 tackles, 19 of them solo. Illinois gave up 350 total yards but only seven points. "This is a hard way to make a living sometimes," exclaimed a happy John Mackovic. "There were a lot of heroes in this one."

Sources: "Illini give Ohio State the boot," by Robert Markus & "Mmmm! (Translation: Illini smell roses") by Bernie Lincicome. Chicago Tribune: October 13, 1991. Credit to Detlef's parents for their research.


CapitalCityOutlaw50 on November 27, 2020 @ 05:36 PM

That field with the Chief at the center before the fencing team got hold of matches and gasoline was a classic. . .

UofIx3 on November 27, 2020 @ 06:02 PM

I worked at the Co-Ed in 1991 :)

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