Either way, by 1997, the curtains were up and the Buckeyes — defending Rose Bowl champions — were on full display for a national television audience 1.
Making this period of Ohio State football arguably even more exciting was the litany of interesting opponents that appeared on the schedule for the Buckeye defense to devour. Led by Buckeye luminaries as Antoine Winfield, Kevin Johnson, Damon Moore and Ahmed Plummer (among countless others), the Silver Bullets — led by Fred Pagac, who every Buckeye fan, to a man, would willingly swap in a testicle to have him back as defensive coordinator — played football at their tempo, at their speed. That speed? Violence, and lots of it.
The most iconic of the Silver Bullets from the mid-nineties is arguably Andy Katzenmoyer, and the selection of QB snacks for his 3 year career in Columbus was nothing short of tantalizing. During his tenure, the Buckeyes finished up a series with Notre Dame, opened up a season on the road in Morgantown, and found some time to crush Jake Plummer’s hopes and dreams. 1997, in particular, was an interesting set of matchups for Katzenmoyer and his fellow Silver Bullets. They opened on Thursday (the Buckeyes’ last Thursday regular season game) against a surprisingly competitive Wyoming team in the Eddie Robinson Classic, hosted the Arizona Wildcats — with Dennis Northcutt — during the Wildcats’ last spell as a competitive football team and inaugurated a series against the resurgent Missouri Tigers, led by (recently deceased) Ohio turncoat Larry Smith and option QB Corby Jones (the poor man’s Tommie Frazier).
The game was on national television on ABC, and featured Ohio State’s first ever trip to Columbia, Missouri and the first game against Missouri since the inexplicable 1976 loss2. Ohio State, ranked no. 7 in America, looked to be in for a long game against the big play capabilities of Corby Jones.
Indeed, the first quarter was as frustrating as you could imagine it for Pagac’s Silver Bullets. Missouri responded to Ohio State’s opening touchdown drive with authority, and finished the first quarter with a go-ahead field goal off of a similar drive. On both of these drives, the consistent man coverage and safety blitzes were there, but Corby Jones would either elude a tackle for a first down or find an upback in the flats to move the chains as well. Andy Katzenmoyer, the standout sophomore, was strangely quiet as well. Indeed, some of those broken tackles on Corby Jones early in the game came courtesy of the Big Kat himself.
By time Missouri took the ball for its second drive of the second half, the Tigers were up 10-7 and had just forced Ohio State’s offense into an important punt. Musburger noted that Katzenmoyer’s name had not been called, that Ohio State’s defense was reeling, Missouri’s offense was in a groove and that the 3rd down and longs that the Silver Bullets needed were not forthcoming.
Fortunately, the play after Musburger’s observation came the 3rd and long opportunity that Musburger noted the Buckeyes needed.
On that 3rd and 10 play in question, Corby Jones decided to scramble, again, for a first down as he had previously done on 3rd downs this game.
That’s when Andy Katzenmoyer decided that shit’s crucial.
That’s when this happened.
Ohio State, on the other hand, would score again, and started with the drive following the punt after the Katzenmoyer hit. The punt put Ohio State at Missouri’s 47 yard line and Joe Germaine came in to quarterback the series. On the first play, Germaine hooked up with Dee Miller on a diving reception to put the Buckeyes at the Missouri 5 yard line. The next play, Germaine found David Boston for 6 and a 14-10 Ohio State lead.
The Buckeyes wouldn’t look back, winning the game 36-10 and avenging the 1976 loss in the process. The next year, the Buckeyes played host to the Missouri Tigers and convincingly won there as well to sweep the home-and-home series. A YouTube Drive-Thru compilation of that game may be forthcoming next.
After this game, Katzenmoyer had other legendary battles, most famously with his GPA. The battles were fought and won in his AIDS Awareness, Golf and Music Appreciation classes. The “bust” label is casually thrown around regarding Katzenmoyer’s brief stint in the NFL. In fairness to Katzenmoyer, severe neck injuries necessarily limit the duration of a pro football career. He is now married, with children, living in Westerville as a part-time assistant coach at Westerville South HS (I think that’s also his alma mater, but don’t quote me) and, first and foremost, a gym owner and fitness guru. The gym in question is owned by he and his wife, and you can read about it here.
Furthermore, in credit to Katzenmoyer, he has gone to great lengths to challenge the national perception of him as a dumb, prototypical jock, as he was portrayed in that Sports Illustrated magazine article in 1998. Katzenmoyer is back in school, has transferred from Ohio State completely, and is now attending classes at Otterbein College and doing quite well for himself in the classroom. That side of the story seldom gets told. I feel good that he has rebounded spiritually, even if it means cutting all attachments with Ohio State to do it.
As for Corby Jones? He lives.
He lives every hour, and every day, never taking the present moment of consciousness for granted.
If you’re interested, I uploaded an animated GIF of the collision to my Picasa account. You can check it out here. It is a big file (11MB), so that’s why I didn’t upload it locally.