2002 Ohio State Buckeyes football team

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2002 Ohio State Buckeyes football
Buckeyes logo.svg
Consensus national champion
Big Ten co-champion
Fiesta Bowl champion
Fiesta Bowl (BCS NCG), W 31–24 2OT vs. Miami (FL)
Conference Big Ten
Coaches No. 1
AP No. 1
2002 record 14–0 (8–0 Big Ten)
Head coach Jim Tressel (2nd season)
Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman (2nd season)
Offensive scheme Multiple
Defensive coordinator Mark Dantonio (2nd season)
Base defense 4–3
MVP Chris Gamble
MVP Craig Krenzel
Home stadium Ohio Stadium
(Capacity: 101,568)
← 2001
2003 →
2002 Big Ten football standings
Conf     Overall
Team   W   L         W   L  
No. 1 Ohio State $#+   8 0         14 0  
No. 8 Iowa %+   8 0         11 2  
No. 9 Michigan   6 2         10 3  
No. 16 Penn State   5 3         9 4  
Purdue   4 4         7 6  
Illinois   4 4         5 7  
Minnesota   3 5         8 5  
Wisconsin   2 6         8 6  
Michigan State   2 6         4 8  
Northwestern   1 7         3 9  
Indiana   1 7         3 9  
  • # – BCS National Champion
  • $ – BCS representative as conference champion
  • % – BCS at-large representative
  • + – Conference co-champions
Rankings from AP Poll[1]

The 2002 Ohio State Buckeyes football team was the national champion of the 2002 NCAA Division I-A football season. The team was the first in Division I-A (now Division I FBS) history to finish its season at 14–0, and the second to win 14 games, following BYU's 14–1 season in 1996. The Buckeyes' record-tying 14 wins has since been matched by multiple teams, including the 2014 national championship team, which went 14–1. Led by co-MVPs junior quarterback Craig Krenzel and sophomore wide receiver/cornerback Chris Gamble, freshman standout tailback Maurice Clarett, and senior safety Mike Doss, the Buckeyes won the Big Ten, then won the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, which was also the 2003 BCS National Championship Game to finish as college football's national champions for the first time since 1968.


Despite a 7–5 season the year before, the general feeling was one of optimism in Columbus, Ohio, provided that the defense could carry the team while the offense developed. First year coach Jim Tressel was able to deliver on his promise of an upset victory over the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Twice All-American safety Mike Doss, in an emotional announcement on January 9, 2002, advised that he would not declare himself for the NFL draft and would return to Ohio State for his senior season. (SI, p. 75) Maurice Clarett, a freshman prospect, graduated early from high school and enrolled at Ohio State for the 2002 Winter Quarter to make himself eligible to participate in spring football practice. (Lindy's, p. 15; SI p. 16)

Prior to the 2002 season, the Buckeyes were ranked thirteenth in the AP Poll after losing the Outback Bowl on a last second field goal to the South Carolina Gamecocks. The Big Ten Conference summer media day sessions predicted Ohio State to finish second in the conference behind Michigan and ahead of Michigan State. (Keels, p. 12)

Team captains selected were seniors Mike Doss and Donnie Nickey. Offensive captains for the season were named weekly, and were: Craig Krenzel (Texas Tech, Penn State, and Michigan), Mike Stafford (Kent State), Ben Hartsock (Washington State and Illinois), Ivan Douglas (Cincinnati), Chris Vance (Indiana), Alex Stepanovich (Northwestern and Purdue), Michael Jenkins (San Jose State), Shane Olivea (Wisconsin), and for the Minnesota game, Andy Groom and Bryce Bishop. (2002 archive October 12, 2002)


Date Time Opponent# Rank# Site TV Result Attendance
August 24 2:30 p.m. Texas Tech* No. 13 Ohio StadiumColumbus, Ohio (Pigskin Classic) ABC W 45–21   100,037
September 7 12:00 p.m. Kent State* No. 8 Ohio Stadium • Columbus, Ohio ESPN+ W 51–17   98,689
September 14 3:30 p.m. No. 10 Washington State* No. 6 Ohio Stadium • Columbus, Ohio ABC W 25–7   104,553
September 21 3:30 p.m. at Cincinnati* No. 6 Paul Brown StadiumCincinnati ESPN W 23–19   66,319
September 28 12:00 p.m. Indiana No. 6 Ohio Stadium • Columbus, Ohio ESPN+ W 45–17   104,194
October 5 7:00 p.m. at Northwestern No. 5 Ryan FieldEvanston, Illinois ESPN2 W 27–16   43,489
October 12 12:00 p.m. San Jose State*dagger No. 5 Ohio Stadium • Columbus, Ohio ESPN+ W 50–7   104,892
October 19 3:30 p.m. at Wisconsin No. 4 Camp Randall StadiumMadison, Wisconsin ABC W 19–14   79,729
October 26 3:30 p.m. No. 17 Penn State No. 4 Ohio Stadium • Columbus, Ohio (Rivalry) ABC W 13–7   105,103
November 2 3:30 p.m. No. 23 Minnesota No. 6 Ohio Stadium • Columbus, Ohio ABC W 34–3   104,897
November 9 12:00 p.m. at Purdue No. 3 Ross–Ade StadiumWest Lafayette, Indiana ABC W 10–6   65,250
November 16 3:30 p.m. at Illinois No. 2 Memorial StadiumChampaign, Illinois (Illibuck Trophy) ABC W 23–16 OT  58,810
November 23 12:00 p.m. No. 12 Michigan No. 2 Ohio Stadium • Columbus, Ohio (The Game) ABC W 14–9   105,539
January 3, 2003 8:00 p.m. vs. No. 1 Miami (FL)* No. 2 Sun Devil StadiumTempe, Arizona (Fiesta BowlBCS National Championship Game) ABC W 31–24 2OT  77,502
*Non-conference game. daggerHomecoming. #Rankings from AP Poll released prior to game. All times are in Eastern Time.

Coaching staff[edit]

  • Jim Tressel – Head Coach – 2nd year
  • Jim Bollman – Offensive Line / Offensive Coordinator (2nd year)
  • Bill Conley – Tight Ends / Recruiting Coordinator (16th year)
  • Joe Daniels – Quarterbacks (2nd year)
  • Mark Dantonio – Defensive Coordinator (2nd year)
  • Luke Fickell – Special Teams (2nd year)
  • Jim Heacock – Defensive Line (7th year)
  • Mark Snyder – Defensive Linebackers (2nd year)
  • Tim Spencer – Running Backs (9th year)
  • Mel Tucker – Defensive Backs (2nd year)
  • Bob Tucker – Director of Football Operations (8th year)
  • Dick Tressel – Associate Director of Football Operations (2nd year)


2002 Ohio State Buckeyes football team roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Class
FB 49 John Adams Redshirt.svg So
RB 19 Anthony Jones Redshirt.svg Fr
TE 83 Reggie Arden Redshirt.svg Fr
OG 78 Bryce Bishop Redshirt.svg Jr
OL 51 Mike Bogart Jr
TE 87 Jason Caldwell Redshirt.svg So
SE 8 Drew Carter Redshirt.svg Jr
FL 14 Angelo Chattams So
FL 3 Bam Childress Redshirt.svg So
TB 13 Maurice Clarett Fr
OG 63 Adrien Clarke Redshirt.svg Jr
TE 81 R.J. Coleman Fr
OL 59 John Conroy Redshirt.svg Fr
OT 79 Ryan Cook Redshirt.svg Fr
OT 66 Doug Datish Fr
TB 36 Michael DeMaria Redshirt.svg So
OT 53 Ivan Douglas Redshirt.svg Jr
OL 72 T.J. Downing Fr
SE 7 Chris Gamble So
TB 28 Maurice Hall So
WR 82 Roy Hall Fr
TE 80 Ryan Hamby Redshirt.svg Fr
TE 88 Ben Hartsock Redshirt.svg Jr
SE 84 John Hollins Redshirt.svg So
WR 17 Santonio Holmes Fr
WR 81 Hooks Redshirt.svg So
SE 12 Michael Jenkins Jr
FB 38 Branden Joe Redshirt.svg So
RB 29 Jesse Kline Redshirt.svg Jr
OT 52 Mike Kne Jr
WR 17 Craig Kolk Fr
QB 16 Craig Krenzel Redshirt.svg Jr
OG 70 Mike Kuhnhein Redshirt.svg Sr
FL 86 Maurice Lee Redshirt.svg Jr
WR 37 Jamal Luke Redshirt.svg Jr
OL 55 Nick Mangold Fr
OT 62 John McLaughlin Redshirt.svg So
QB 15 Scott McMullen Redshirt.svg Jr
RB 41 Aaron Mochon Redshirt.svg Fr
OT 74 Derek Morris Fr
OL 74 Ben Nash Redshirt.svg Fr
OG 64 Adam Olds Redshirt.svg Fr
OT 71 Shane Olivea Jr
QB 18 Jim Otis Redshirt.svg So
RB 20 Roshawn Parker Jr
RB 42 Steve Pavelka So
WR 23 Scott Petroff Redshirt.svg Jr
TB 34 JaJa Riley Redshirt.svg Fr
TB 30 Lydell Ross So
FB 43 Brandon Schnittker Redshirt.svg Fr
OL 77 Rob Sims Fr
QB 10 Troy Smith Fr
OT 50 Michael Stafford Redshirt.svg Sr
FB 33 Nate Snead Redshirt.svg Jr
C 76 Alex Stepanovich Jr
QB 24 Matt Trombitas Redshirt.svg Fr
FB 48 Jack Tucker Redshirt.svg Sr
C 69 Andree Tyree Redshirt.svg Fr
FL 4 Chris Vance Sr
OL 73 Steve Winner Redshirt.svg Fr
WR 11 Mike Young Redshirt.svg So
QB 9 Justin Zwick Fr
Pos. # Name Class
S 26 Will Allen Jr
DT 54 Tim Anderson Redshirt.svg Jr
LB 91 Jason Bond Redshirt.svg Jr
S 19 LeAndre Boone Redshirt.svg Fr
LB 58 Joe Bradley Redshirt.svg Fr
CB 1 Bobby Britton Jr
LB 42 Bobby Carpenter Fr
CB 20 Chris Conwell Redshirt.svg Sr
DE 74 Bryce Culver Redshirt.svg So
LB 5 Mike D'Andrea Fr
S 2 Mike Doss (C) Sr
DB 37 Tyler Everett Fr
CB 37 Dustin Fox So
DE 75 Simon Fraser So
DE 65 Steve Graef Redshirt.svg So
LB 6 Cie Grant Redshirt.svg Sr
DT 94 Marcus Green Redshirt.svg Fr
DB 4 Rob Harley So
LB 47 A.J. Hawk Fr
CB 13 Harlen Jacobs Redshirt.svg So
DE 52 Mike Kudla Fr
S 41 Thomas Matthews Redshirt.svg So
CB 11 Richard McNutt Redshirt.svg Jr
DB 32 Brandon Mitchell Fr
S 25 Donnie Nickey (C) Redshirt.svg Sr
LB 36 Pat O'Neill Redshirt.svg Jr
LB 46 Fred Pagac Jr. Redshirt.svg Jr
DE 98 Joel Penton Fr
DT 97 Kenny Peterson Redshirt.svg Sr
DL 90 Quinn Pitcock Fr
LB 44 Robert Reynolds Jr
DE 92 Jay Richardson Fr
CB 24 Mike Roberts Fr
DB 21 Nate Salley Fr
DE 99 Gregory Schaefer Fr
DE 56 Darrion Scott Jr
DE 93 Will Smith Jr
DT 95 David Thompson Redshirt.svg Sr
DB 49 E.J. Underwood Fr
LB 89 Stan White Jr. Fr
LB 35 Matt Wilhelm Sr
DL 52 Sam Williams So
Special teams
Pos. # Name Class
LS 60 Kyle Andrews Redshirt.svg So
P 18 Andy Groom Redshirt.svg Sr
P, PK 23 Josh Huston Redshirt.svg So
LS 62 Jeremy Miller Redshirt.svg Jr
PK 85 Mike Nugent So
PK 19 Matt Rusell Sr
P 21 B.J. Sander Redshirt.svg Jr
P, PK 86 Kyle Turano Jr
P, DB 9 Bryan Weaver So
LS 67 Kurt Wilhelm Redshirt.svg So
Head coach
Coordinators/assistant coaches

  • (C) Team captain
  • (S) Suspended
  • (I) Ineligible
  • Injured Injured
  • Redshirt Redshirt

Last update: 2015-12-20

Game summaries[edit]

Texas Tech[edit]

1 234Total
Texas Tech 7 0014 21
Ohio State 14 7177 45

The Buckeyes began the 2002 season in Ohio Stadium against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on August 24, 2002, in the final edition of the Pigskin Classic. Like Ohio State, Texas Tech had posted a 7–5 record in 2001, narrowly losing to Iowa in the Alamo Bowl. Tailback Maurice Clarett, the first true freshman to start at tailback in school history, (Athletic Department archive August 24, 2002) scored three touchdowns in his first game, sparking a convincing 45–21 win. Seven sacks of Heisman Trophy candidate Kliff Kingsbury and containment of the Tech offense until late in the game did much to establish the credibility of the Buckeye defense.

Kent State[edit]

1 234Total
Kent State 0 1403 17
Ohio State 21 17310 51

Ohio State, now ranked 8th in the AP Poll, built a 38-0 lead before halftime against the Kent State Golden Flashes, with quarterback Craig Krenzel completing his first 11 passes, safety Mike Doss and freshman linebacker A. J. Hawk returning interceptions for touchdowns, and Maurice Clarett scoring twice. Kent State scored twice in the last 4 minutes of the first half but never threatened an upset. With the game in hand, backup quarterback Scott McMullen directed the Buckeye offense for much of the second half, completing 7 of his 11 passes. The Buckeyes took only 47 snaps compared to 80 by the Golden Flashes and actually had a 2:1 deficit in time of possession, but outgained Kent State by 60 yards. Sophomore place kicker Mike Nugent, who had been uneven in his kicking as a freshman, gave an indication of his future value to the team by kicking field goals of 41, 33, and 45 yards.

Washington State[edit]

1 234Total
Washington State 7 000 7
Ohio State 3 3127 25

Now ranked sixth in the nation, the Buckeyes faced their first marquee opponent and second Heisman quarterback candidate in Jason Gesser on September 14 when they hosted the 10th-ranked Cougars of Washington State. The game was billed by many in the media as a possible Rose Bowl-preview and was televised nationally (Keels p. 28).

Washington State appeared to live up to its billing with an 11-play 80-yard drive midway through the 1st quarter that was capped by a short touchdown pass from Gesser. In addition the Cougar defense limited tailback Maurice Clarett to just 36 yards rushing and held the Buckeyes to only a pair of field goals in the half. However Ohio State's defense stymied Washington State throughout the game, intercepting Gesser twice and forcing the Cougars to surrender the ball on downs twice in Buckeye territory.

In the second half Clarett picked up 44 yards on his first rush and destroyed the Cougar defense with 194 second-half yards. His 230 yards rushing for the day was the 6th best in Buckeye history and just short of Archie Griffin's freshman record of 239. (Keels p. 28, Lindy's p. 26) He scored twice and Ohio State got a Nugent field goal and a safety to win convincingly. The following Tuesday, in his weekly luncheon with the media, Coach Jim Tressel revealed that Clarett had suffered a knee injury during the game, had already undergone arthroscopic surgery, and would miss the next game.


1 234Total
Ohio State 0 779 23
Cincinnati 9 370 19

The first of many nailbiters for Buckeye fans came September 21 against the 1–1 Cincinnati Bearcats as the team required an interception in the end zone by safety Will Allen with 32 seconds remaining to seal a 23–19 victory. Playing a rare road game against an Ohio opponent in Paul Brown Stadium, named for an illustrious former Buckeye head coach, 6th-ranked Ohio State played much of the game trailing the unranked Bearcats of Conference USA, who had narrowly lost by a field goal the previous week to West Virginia. UC put up more than 400 yards of offense, bombing the Buckeye defense with 52 passes, but was stymied by dropped passes and two 4th quarter interceptions.

Sophomore running back Lydell Ross, starting in place of the injured Clarett, rushed for 130 yards. Wide receiver Chris Gamble had practiced all week as a defensive back and was used on a 3rd down for UC from the Ohio State 29 in the 4th quarter, making an interception in the end zone. Craig Krenzel, who had scrambled for 64 yards on 14 carries in the first three games, scored the winning touchdown with less than 4 minutes to play, twisting and spinning through the Bearcat defenders for 6 yards. (Keels p. 35)


1 234Total
Indiana 0 1007 17
Ohio State 7 14177 45

6th-ranked and undefeated Ohio State took care of business in opening the Big Ten schedule with a 45-17 win over the 2-2 Indiana Hoosiers. Maurice Clarett returned to play after 2 weeks recuperating from his knee surgery September 16 and scored three times in the first half while accruing 104 yards rushing. After leading only 21–10 at halftime, Ohio State blew open the game with three scores in the 3rd quarter to win decisively, totalling 244 yards of rushing and 461 overall.

Playing both defense and offense, Chris Gamble scored on a 43-yard reverse on the first drive of the 3rd quarter. Indiana had to punt on the ensuing possession and safety Dustin Fox blocked the kick. Ohio State took over at the Indiana 18 and scored on a short pass from Krenzel to Michael Jenkins to take a 35–10 lead.


1 234Total
Ohio State 0 14103 27
Northwestern 6 370 16

The next week, on the road against the Northwestern Wildcats, which entered the game with a 2-3 record and 0-1 in conference play, Ohio State played a night game in Evanston, Illinois, in accordance with a scheduling agreement between the Big Ten and ESPN (Keels, p. 41). The game was again unusually close, with Clarett fumbling three times and caught by the TV cameras arguing with running backs coach Tim Spencer on the sidelines (Keels, p. 42), but he also carried the ball for 140 yards and two scores as Ohio State prevailed 27-16.

Northwestern had a 6-0 lead after the 1st quarter but had had two drives stopped inside the Ohio State ten-yard line. They later missed a pair of field goal attempts before scoring a touchdown with less than 2 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter to narrow the Buckeye lead to 24-16. Ohio State replied with a long drive and a field goal by Mike Nugent, then used an interception by Cie Grant and a fumble recovery by Donnie Nickey to keep Northwestern at bay.

San Jose State[edit]

1 234Total
San Jose State 0 700 7
Ohio State 7 17179 50

Ohio State for the second season in a row played a non-conference West Coast team at mid-season, hosting the San Jose State Spartans for Homecoming on October 12. San Jose State had attempted to cancel the game because its schedule featured seven road games in an 8-week span, but was unable to find a replacement team for the Buckeye home date. The Spartans, 4-2, had already defeated Illinois, had a three-game winning streak, and entered the game with a defense that led Division I-A in taking the ball away from its opponents. The game started slowly and was tied 7-7 early in the 2nd quarter.

The Buckeye defense, however, held SJS to 265 yards of offense, all of it passing yardage, despite the Spartans completing 81.8% of their 44 passes. (Lindy's, p. 42) The offense ran up 567 yards, a season-high, with Krenzel and backup Scott McMullen combining for 355 yards passing on only 19 completions. Krenzel threw for three touchdowns to break the game open in the 3rd quarter, Clarett rushed for 132 yards and scored three times, and Mike Nugent connected on three field goals, tying the school record for 15 straight without a miss.


1 234Total
Ohio State 10 306 19
Wisconsin 7 700 14

Ohio State faced its next big test on the road October 19, in Madison, Wisconsin, taking on the Wisconsin Badgers in one of the most hostile stadiums in the nation. Ranked fourth now, Ohio State faced a Badger team that had opened its season 5-0, but had lost its first two conference games, and 7 of its last 9 conference games at home, and was playing without its top wide receiver, Lee Evans. Animosity simmered in both teams as each had resented the other dancing on their logos after road wins in the immediately preceding years. (Keels p. 46)

Ohio State scored on its first possession with a long pass from Krenzel to Jenkins, but by halftime Wisconsin led, 14-13, on two long plays in each quarter. The 3rd quarter was scoreless, but midway through the 4th, on a 3rd and 6 from its own 16, Krenzel delivered a high pass 45 yards to Michael Jenkins, who out-jumped two defenders to give the Buckeyes a first down in Wisconsin territory. Krenzel completed the drive with a short touchdown pass to tight end Ben Hartsock, and although a try for a 2-point conversion failed, the Buckeyes led 19-14.

Wide receiver Chris Gamble, who had played defensive back on key downs earlier in the season, was sent into the game when Wisconsin faced a 3-and-11 at the Buckeye 29-yard line. Gamble intercepted the next pass in the end zone to preserve the lead. Also a key player in the victory was punter Andy Groom, whose six punts averaged 50.2 yards, with a 4th quarter punt that went for 74 yards and another that was downed at the Wisconsin 1-yard line. Maurice Clarett rushed for 133 yards but suffered a shoulder stinger on his last carry, an injury that would severely limit his availability over the next four games.

Penn State[edit]

1 234Total
Penn State 7 000 7
Ohio State 0 3100 13

The following week, on October 26, the Buckeyes returned to Columbus to face Joe Paterno's Penn State Nittany Lions, ranked 17th in the AP, with a 5–2 overall record and a 1–2 conference record, its losses to Iowa and Michigan. The Ohio State offense struggled throughout the game, exemplified by Craig Krenzel losing a fumble at the Penn State one on Ohio State's first possession, but the defense held Penn State's offense to only seven points and a season-low 179 yards and 8 first downs (tying the Penn State school record for fewest first downs, which surprisingly occurred in Penn State's memorable 14-10 upset of the Miami Hurricanes in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl that grabbed them the national championship). Heisman Trophy finalist Larry Johnson was held to a season-low 66 yards rushing on 16 attempts.

The game featured Chris Gamble starting on both offense and defense (which had last occurred for Ohio State in 1963) and playing 89 of the game's 138 plays (51 on defense, 31 on offense, and 7 on punt returns). (Lindy's p. 50) After Krenzel's fumble, Gamble caught the Penn State defender from behind at the OSU 41, preventing a touchdown return, and two plays later A. J. Hawk ended the threat with his second interception of the year.

The key play of the game, however, came on the first series of the 3rd quarter with Penn State in possession and having the lead, 7–3. Gamble "jumped the route" of the Penn State receiver, intercepted the ball at the Nittany Lion 40, and returned it down the sideline for a touchdown, the only one scored by Ohio State in the game. In all the Buckeyes intercepted three passes, but controversy ensued near the end of the game when Gamble appeared to interfere with a Lion receiver but was not called for a penalty. (Lindy's, p. 50) Clarett played only the first series of the game before injuring his shoulder again and leaving the game.

Buckeye radio broadcaster Paul Keels, in his book recounting the season, noted that the fans in Ohio Stadium that day were unusually loud and supportive. (P. 53)


1 234Total
Minnesota 3 000 3
Ohio State 0 10177 34

The team was far more dominant on November 2, posting an impressive 34-3 rout of the 19th-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers. Minnesota, at 7-1 overall and 3-1 in conference play, was a contender for the Big Ten title. The Gophers blocked a punt that led to the first score of the day, a field goal, but Ohio State's defense throttled the Minnesota rushing attack, which had been averaging 271 yards a game, (Lindy's, p. 54) holding it to 53 yards and the passing attack to 59, and Minnesota, despite starting its next two possessions at its 45, was unable to score further.

Lydell Ross and Maurice Hall, playing in place of the injured Clarett, rushed for 89 and 93 yards respectively, as Ohio State scored 34 unanswered points. Defensive linemen Darrion Scott, Simon Fraser, and David Thompson recorded 4 sacks and were instrumental in stopping the run.


1 234Total
Ohio State 0 307 10
Purdue 3 003 6

On November 9, the 3rd-ranked Buckeyes, in an unexpectedly close game with the 4-5 Purdue Boilermakers (2-3 in Big Ten play), delivered one of the most thrilling moments in Ohio State football history. The offense had been stagnant the entire game, unable to run against the Purdue defense. Maurice Clarett, still hampered by the recurrence of his stinger injury in the Penn State game, carried the ball only 14 times for 52 yards. Krenzel had completed only 11 passes for 123 yards when Ohio State faced a 3rd and 14 from midfield, trailing 6–3 late in the fourth quarter. He scrambled in the passing pocket and completed a pass along the sideline to tight end Ben Hartsock but came up a yard short of a first down at the 37-yard line with just over 2:00 remaining in the game.

On fourth down with a yard to go, coach Jim Tressel opted against attempting a 54-yard field goal by Mike Nugent to tie the game, and in an uncharacteristically high-risk move, ran pass play "King Right 64 Y Shallow Swap" instead, whose first option was a short crossing pass ("shallow swap") to Hartsock (the "Y" receiver). Instead, Krenzel went deep to wide receiver Michael Jenkins, jostling with defensive back Antwaun Rogers. Jenkins caught the pass at the goal line and scored. After a Gamble interception of Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton stifled any comeback by the Boilermakers, the Buckeyes escaped West Lafayette with a victory, 10-6. From his call of the touchdown, ABC announcer Brent Musburger uttered a phrase that has gone down in Buckeye lore: "Holy Buckeye".

The Buckeye defense was equally stellar, limiting Purdue to a pair of field goals on four possessions inside the Ohio State 20, and an interception by middle linebacker Matt Wilhelm allowed Mike Nugent to kick a tying field goal as the clock ran out in the first half.


1 234OTTotal
Ohio State 6 0737 23
Illinois 0 31030 16

The Buckeyes had risen in the polls to now rank 2nd, and concluded their season road games in Champaign, Illinois, taking on the 4-6 Illinois Fighting Illini. Illinois was 3–3 in conference play, and what seemed to be a mismatch proved to be yet another dangerously close game as the Illini kicked a field goal on the last play of the 4th quarter to come from behind to force overtime.

As it had on its earlier road games, Ohio State struggled offensively with an inconsistent running game minus Maurice Clarett. Illinois took the lead in the 3rd quarter, only to lose it on a 50-yard strike from Krenzel to Jenkins. The teams exchanged field goals before Illinois missed a 59-yard attempt with only 2 minutes left that appeared to settle the game, but the Illini forced a punt and tied the game as time expired in regulation play.

The overtime game was the first ever played by Ohio State, and on the opening possession the Buckeyes scored, with Krenzel scrambling from the pocket for 14 yards and Maurice Hall scoring on an 8-yard run up the middle. The Illini appeared to make two touchdown receptions in their possession but the first was out-of-bounds and the second a bobbled incompletion. Defensive lineman Tim Anderson knocked down the final attempt to keep the Buckeyes undefeated. (Lindy's p. 62: Keels, p. 74-75)


1 234Total
Michigan 3 600 9
Ohio State 7 007 14

The regular season finale against the Michigan Wolverines on November 23 logically became the most important of the regular season. Michigan was 9-2, with a 6-1 Big Ten record, and ranked 9th in the USA Today poll and 12th in the AP.[2] The intensity of the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry was increased by the stakes: a victory by the 12-0 Buckeyes would secure a spot for them in the BCS National Championship game. Michigan had ruined Ohio State attempts at undefeated regular seasons three times in the past decade (1993, 1995, 1996), and hoped to spoil yet another national title bid.

The game was fittingly intense, with the Wolverines ahead or within striking distance of the Buckeyes for the entire game. Maurice Clarett, returning from injury, scored an early touchdown to put the team ahead 7–3, and the defense held Michigan to three first half field goals that included a crucial stop inside the Ohio State ten just before the half. Trailing 9–7 in the fourth quarter, Krenzel engineered a drive from the Michigan 43 with 8:30 remaining. After gaining a first down on a 4th down quarterback sneak, Krenzel completed a pass (and another play name went into Buckeye legend: Gun Switch Right Dart 59 X Skinny Wheel)[3] to Clarett swinging left out of the backfield ("wheel") while the wide receiver ran a post pattern to decoy the secondary ("X skinny") that resulted in a first down at the Michigan six-yard line. Two plays later, with 4:55 to go, Maurice Hall took an option pitch from Krenzel and ran into the endzone from two yards out.

After a lost fumble with two minutes remaining, Michigan regained possession at its own 20 with only 50 seconds. They moved the ball, but the final pass attempt by Michigan quarterback John Navarre, with 0:01 left and long to the endzone, was intercepted by Will Allen.

With the victory, Ohio State finished the 2002 season by sharing the conference crown with the Iowa Hawkeyes, who also went undefeated in Big Ten play.

Fiesta Bowl[edit]

1 234OTTotal
Ohio State 0 143014 31
Miami (FL) 7 0737 24

Following their defeat of Michigan, Ohio State faced the number one ranked and heavily favored (11.5 points) Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl on January 3, 2003, selected that year as the championship game for the teams ranked first and second in the BCS ratings. The Hurricanes were attempting to win their second consecutive championship, winning the Rose Bowl in the previous season and winning 34 straight games in dominating fashion. Led by Heisman Trophy finalists quarterback Ken Dorsey and tailback Willis McGahee, Miami was favored by nearly two touchdowns over the offensively anemic Buckeyes.

The Hurricanes jumped out to an early 7–0 lead, quieting the largely scarlet and gray crowd. The second quarter, however, belonged to Ohio State, with a Mike Doss interception setting up a Craig Krenzel touchdown run which was followed by a Ken Dorsey fumble setting up the Buckeyes on the Miami 14. A Maurice Clarett touchdown run put Ohio State ahead 14–7 at halftime.

The Hurricanes stalled on their opening drive of the half, handing the ball over to Ohio State who drove inside the Miami ten-yard line before Krenzel was intercepted by Sean Taylor, who was then stripped of the ball by Maurice Clarett on the return. The Buckeyes settled for a field goal and a ten-point lead.

A Willis McGahee touchdown run brought the Hurricanes within 3 points by the beginning of the fourth quarter. On third down a catch by Chris Gamble was ruled incomplete due to his being out of bounds. Replays however seem to show that: 1) Gamble had his jersey grabbed on this play which could have resulted in pass interference call and a consequent Ohio State first down. 2) Gamble appeared to land inbounds, again a first down. With a first down Ohio State would have been in a position to run the clock out and win the game without it going to overtime. Instead they had to punt and Groom punted the ball 44 yards. Todd Sievers kicked a field goal to send the game into overtime.

On their first possession in overtime, the Hurricanes scored a touchdown on a 7-yard pass to Kellen Winslow. Ohio State had no choice but to play for another overtime, with Krenzel completing a fourth and 14 pass to Michael Jenkins. Replays however seem to show that Jenkins pushed off Miami cornerback Glen Sharpe on this play which could have resulted in an impossible fourth and 24 situation for Ohio State. On fourth and 3, after an initial signal of defensive holding, a pass interference penalty was called by official Terry Porter on Miami defensive back Glenn Sharpe. However, the penalty was flagged after the play was completed and while Miami was celebrating an apparent victory, causing the call to become controversial. The call was not only controversial due to the timing, but also due to the fact that the referees had allowed physical secondary play throughout the game. With a first-and-goal at the two, Krenzel scored three plays later on a one-yard touchdown run, sending the game into another overtime. Though initially shrouded in controversy, "The Call" has since been defended by sportswriters as a good one,[4][5] was validated by the National Association of Sports Officials,[6] and was selected by Referee Magazine as one of the "Best 18 Calls of All Time."[7]

Ohio State took the field again on offense, moving down the field quickly and capping the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run by Maurice Clarett. Miami began its second overtime possession with no options except to score a touchdown. Backup quarterback Derek Crudup, who came in for a play after Dorsey was shaken up, converted a fourth down pass to Winslow, which was followed by facemask and pass interference penalties against Ohio State that now gave Miami an identical first-and-goal situation at the two-yard line, but without their All-American running back Willis McGahee, who had left the game with a leg injury. The Hurricanes were stopped on the first three plays, including a misdirected incomplete pass from a woozy Dorsey to a wide open tight end. On 4th and goal, pressure forced a desperation throw by Dorsey that fell incomplete in the endzone, ending the game with Ohio State as the 2002 football national champions.

Depth chart[edit]

Source: Athletic Department official site, 2002 football archive 12-10-02 depth chart

Awards and honors[edit]

  • Maurice Clarett, Big Ten Freshman of the Year

Draft picks[edit]

Rnd. Pick # NFL team Player Pos. College Conf. Notes
2 58 Indianapolis Colts Mike Doss  S Ohio State Big Ten
3 79 Green Bay Packers Kenny Peterson  DT Ohio State Big Ten
3 86 New Orleans Saints Cie Grant  LB Ohio State Big Ten
4 112 San Diego Chargers Matt Wilhelm  LB Ohio State Big Ten
5 154 Tennessee Titans Donnie Nickey  S Ohio State Big Ten



  1. ^ "2002 NCAA Football Rankings - AP Top 25 Postseason (Jan. 5)". ESPN. Retrieved November 29, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Ohio State, Michigan Meet in Dramatic Finale"[permanent dead link], Ohio State Football, November 19, 2002.
  3. ^ Murphy, Austin. "Next Stop: Fiesta Bowl", Sports Illustrated, p.42, December 2, 2002.
  4. ^ Dodd, Dennis. Months later, 'Canes interference call looks right Archived December 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., CBS Sportsline, July 16, 2003.
  5. ^ Clark, Kyle (January 16, 2003) National championship complaints need to stop Archived December 31, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., The Daily Toreador.
  6. ^ SI column draws NASO ire Archived December 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., NASO Press Release, January 10, 2003.
  7. ^ Referee Lists Best Calls in Officiating History Archived June 13, 2007, at the Wayback Machine., Referee Press Release, February 14, 2007.
  8. ^ https://www.pro-football-reference.com/draft/2003.htm
  • Paul Keels (2003). Paul Keels' Tales from the Buckeyes Championship Season. Sports Publishing LLC. ISBN 978-1-58261-539-4. 
  • Lindy Davis (2002), Lindy's Sports Annuals Presents National Champions!, DMD Publications, Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Sandra Bailey, et al. (2002), Sports Illustrated Presents Ohio State Buckeyes 2002: A Perfect Season (2002-12-18), Time Inc.