Drive-Thru: EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE

Posted by Vico in Buckeye Lore |

Eddie gets his ovation at the end of the Illinois game.
Consistent with my stated aims to upload a YouTube relevant to the foe at hand this season, I went with a very obvious candidate.  Yet perhaps subconsciously I also went with an option that underscores my preferred outcome of the upcoming Illinois game this Saturday in Champaign.  Indeed: I want total humiliation.  Accordingly, I went with the 1995 matchup between Ohio State and Illinois.  This game is an obvious staple in Buckeye lore for the exceptional performance of Eddie George.  In this game, he cemented his Heisman credentials by surpassing Keith Byars’ single game rushing record (coincidentally also against Illinois) and became the first, and so far only, Buckeye back to total 300 yards in a single game.

Yet, Eddie George wasn’t the story entering this game.  It was November 11, 1995 and there were several developments brewing at the start of this game.  In the bigger picture, Ohio State was undefeated and even the no. 2 ranked team in the country on the heels of their domination of Notre Dame in a highly anticipated match, their victory over the previous year’s undefeated (and should’ve-been national champion) conference champion Penn State in Happy Valley, and their thorough routing of most opponents that season.  They even boasted the nation’s best tailback (eventual Heisman winner Eddie George), the nation’s best lineman (Orlando Pace), the nation’s best wide receiver (Terry Glenn, eventual Biletnikoff winner) and one of the better quarterbacks in the country (Bobby Hoying).  Yet they weren’t even the story of their own conference that year.  Curiously enough, Northwestern — who was cycled off Ohio State’s schedule for 1995 and 1996 — was undefeated in conference.  Yes: that Northwestern.  Its only loss was an inexplicable post-Notre Dame letdown against Miami of Ohio.  Ohio State’s perfect record was the only tiebreaker the Buckeyes had keeping them on top of the Big Ten.  Further, Ohio State had two conference games left to Northwestern’s one.  Northwestern had beaten eventual 8-4 team Iowa earlier in the day.  All it had to do was beat sub-.500 Purdue while Ohio State had to take care of Illinois later that same day, Indiana and Michigan1.

A winner is you, Lou Tepper
In the micro view, Illinois had been an achilles heel for John Cooper his entire career at Ohio State.  Entering this game, Cooper was only 1-6 against Illinois and was almost single-handedly closing2 the otherwise wide margin between the two schools in the series (now 56-23-2 Ohio State).  Further, Ohio State was going to play its first game of the season without Terry Glenn, the future Biletnikoff winner and — far and away — the best receiver in college football for the 1995 season.  As you’ll see in the YouTube clip, he injured himself making an impeccable dive and catch of a Hoying pass against Minnesota the week earlier.  Glenn would return later in the season, but he was never really better than 70 percent.

Naturally, the view of analysts entering this game was of a true dilemma for the no. 2 ranked Buckeyes.  It had the nerds breathing down its neck in the Big Ten and had no head-to-head matchup in the season to serve as tiebreaker.  It needed to be perfect in order to go to the Rose Bowl because Northwestern was probably not going to lose to Purdue the next week.  Moreover, it needed to start with a victory over Illinois — against whom Cooper had only one win in 7 tries — and it needed to be accomplished without the home run threat of Terry Glenn.

To make matters worse: Illinois, in spite of its record and its crappy offense, had one of the best defensive units in the country (especially in containing opposing team’s ground attacks), led by future Pro-Bowlers Kevin Hardy and Simeon Rice.  Antwoine Patton, a safety for Illinois, was no slouch either.  After two disasters to begin the season against Michigan and Oregon, Illinois had been holding their opponents to just over 11 points a game.  Surely these two studs in Illinois’ front seven, with the assistance of a run-stopping secondary, would complicate things for Eddie George as it did last year against the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium.  After all, Tepper was probably the road warrior of the Big Ten.  Illinois was 10-3-1 in road games under his tutelage coming into this game.

OWNED
In spite of the odds against the Buckeyes entering this game, the end result was total domination of the Fighting Illini.  The Buckeyes began the game with the ball, which ended in a quickie interception thrown by Hoying — shades of the 3 interceptions he threw in the 1994 matchup.  After the following Illinois punt that pinned the Buckeyes within their own one yard line, Eddie George just… well… went nuts.  Hoying, rather than throwing interceptions, just handed off to Eddie, who almost made up the entire length of the field by himself before Pepe Pearson turned in the ball to the end zone for a quick 7-0 lead.  After another Illinois punt, Eddie again led the charge for another Buckeyes touchdown — this one to Dimitrious Stanley.  By the end of the first quarter, Eddie George was already safely over 130 yards.

He, and the Buckeyes offense, wouldn’t let up either.  The Buckeyes never punted in this game, with the only 3 drives not ending scores coming from Bobby Hoying’s opening interception and Josh Jackson’s two missed field goals.  Further, save for Hoying’s interception, every single one of Ohio State’s drives ended deep in Illinois’ red zone or with a touchdown.  The two times the Buckeyes had to rely on field goals from Jackson came with the Buckeye offense stalling within the Illinois’ 5 yard line.  5 touchdowns and 2 field goals later, the Buckeyes offense had thoroughly flattened one of the better defenses in the country en route to a 41-3 victory.

Does that name ring a bell?
Lest we forget about the performance of the defense, who dominated Illinois’ fragile offense the year after most of the same players had led a stirring second half comeback the year earlier in Ohio Stadium.  Illinois’ only points in the game came off a field goal to open the first drive of the second half.  Indeed, the plan was at the half that if Illinois could start the second half with a scoring drive to cut into the Buckeyes 17-0 halftime lead, it would be able to haunt Ohio State with visions of last year’s game.  However, after that drive, Eddie George took the first play from scrimmage after kickoff for his Heisman reel touchdown run.  In spite of a dominating first half, Eddie George had been kept out of the end zone in the first half.  In the second half, he poured in 3 touchdowns, with one coming as a receiver after Illinois’ lone turnover in the game.

With all said and done, Ohio State had won 41-3 and Eddie George had the best single performance of any Buckeye tailback in the program’s history.  It was a game that cemented Eddie George’s Heisman credentials, thus making Tommie Frazier the most horrifying college football player in history without a Heisman Trophy.

Life isn't what you thought it would be, Lou Tepper
For the purposes of this exercise, though, it serves a point of reference for the type of humiliation that I think is the only just result for last season’s game against Illinois.  I can handle losing to Illinois since I don’t particularly value that rivalry.  Indeed, only those clowns in the Bucket & Dipper honorary care about the rivalry among Buckeye fans.  But getting Zooked? On Senior Day? And to snap our Big Ten record undefeated streak?  Now I want blood.

That said, I can wish all I want for a similar performance from Beanie, but there’s just no Orlando Pace or Rickey Dudley on the roster currently to create havoc.  There’s not even an Eric Gohlstin on the team..

Ohhh well.

Without further ado, you can watch my compilation of the 1995 Illinois game below.  In the interest of brevity, I don’t show much of the defensive highlights since it was kind of your garden variety total annihilation of an opposing offense.

  1. we’re not talking about this game… []
  2. okay, that’s an exaggeration, to be fair to John Cooper. []

 

Written by: Vico | full bio

Vico is the nom de guerre of the founder and current website chair of Our Honor Defend. He is currently living in exile in Alabama.

 

4 Responses to “Drive-Thru: EDDIE EDDIE EDDIE”

  1. 1 dan

    The strangest thing about Eddie’s TD run in the Youtube video is that you see offensive linemen engaging defenders and actually putting them on the ground. Haven’t seen that in a while.

    What would Eddie have done with our line, and what would Beanie have done with that line? Sad.

  2. 2 wsas

    I’m watching Orlando Pace block, and it’s making me tear up. He’s driving his man 5-6 yards back each time.

  3. 3 Mike

    I’ve been an OSU fan ever since I was old enough to understand the game, which started in the early 90s. In that time, Orlando Pace has been the most talented Buckeye I have watched, and I would say by a long shot.

  4. 4 Joe

    Orlando Pace footage constitutes the sole exception to my general rule against watching one man lay on top of another fella.

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