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BEAT Michigan Week in Columbus, 1970, had been a week like no other. The hearts of Buckeye fans had pulsed 24-12 for a year-- and now it all focused on Columbus. Ohio State boosters fidgeted all week, biting their nails and drinking their coffee strong and black. Cigarette and tranquilizer sales must have jumped 50 percent.
Saturday's tension hung in the air, obliterating vision of everything but Scarlet and Gray. The students rallied 'til the wee hours most of the week, beating a path down High Street to the Statehouse and back. The Buckeye Battle Cry resounded and the shouts "Yea, Ohio" and "Go Bucks" were heard almost any hour of the day or night - in almost every gathering.
People have called Columbus a football crazy town before, but never has that description had more meaning.
The tension had begun a year ago when Michigan beat the high and mighty Buckeyes 24-12 in what proved to be Ohio State's only regular season loss in three years. But it all came to a climax last month in Columbus during Beat Michigan Week, and the resulting Buckeye win will not soon be forgotten.
The week began on a frightening note after Ohio State squeaked by Purdue 10-7 and Michigan clobbered Iowa 55-0, instilling some fear in the hearts of many Buckeyes. As a result of those games, the two teams alternated between fourth and fifth rankings in the two national wire service collegiate football polls, and folks said Michigan was on the upswing.
Local sportswriters were also less than optimistic- one Columbus newspapers sports editor predicted a 17-14 Michigan win, and even the Lantern sports editor said Michigan would beat Ohio State, 14-7.
By Tuesday every other car in town sported a bumper sticker predicting the outcome of the game, and a Downtown bank printed catchy slogans on a construction site like: "No Mish-Mash, Just Mash Mich." and "Bo Who?" and "Roses for Woody, Lilies for Bo." Similar but less printable slogans began appearing on fraternity houses and dormitories around campus.
The students staged their first rally and march down High Street late Wednesday night. That was followed by another Thursday night and a final all-out rally Friday night.
While the rest of the town sizzled, Woody Hayes and the team spent the week in relative peace and quiet. Practice sessions were closed to all outsiders, and the team held somewhat low-key practices until Friday, when the seniors made their traditional last practice tackles and Woody began stirring up the enthusiasm. Hayes himself was remarkably calm as he spoke at a pep rally on the eve of THE Saturday.
But there was little calmness anywhere near Columbus Saturday, as the all-time record crowd of 87,331 people filled Ohio Stadium early and Ohio State showed so much enthusiasm in pre-game drills that you could grab it and paint it Scarlet and, Gray.
They didn't give a what about the whole state of Michigan?
That enthusiasm transformed itself into points quickly as the Buckeye defense recovered a Michigan fumble on the opening kickoff just 25 yards from pay dirt, and Fred Schram booted an 18-yard field goal to put Ohio State ahead 3-0 just a minute and 42 seconds after the game began.
It was such enthusiasm that kept the Buckeyes ahead all afternoon in their conquest of the Maize and Blue for the Conference title, the Rose Bowl bid and the revenge everyone had awaited.
The entire team came through when it counted, but it was the defense that should get most of the credit for the win. The defensive unit, besides coming up with the fumble on the kickoff, held the vaunted Wolverine attack to just 37 yards rushing, came up with an interception that resulted in a touchdown, blocked an extra point attempt that saved an important 10-9 edge early in the second half and simply dominated the Wolverines.
Michigan runners, who had run wild in the Big Ten all year, had to settle for peanuts. Their longest gain on the ground all afternoon was for five yards.
Things were rosier for Buckeye runners, though. Leo Hayden was the leading ground gainer with 117 yards in 28 carries, followed by John Brockington with 77 yards in 27 attempts. Rex Kern did not gain much yardage on the ground, but his 87 yards in passing included one very important touchdown.
Brockington set two team records during the game his 1,040 yards rushing this year eclipsed Jim Otis' old single season mark by 13 yards, and his 240 carries this season will also go down in the record book.
After the Ohio State field goal early in the first quarter, Michigan took the ball into Ohio territory but stalled and punted to the Ohio State one-foot line. Quarterback Rex Kern, halfback Leo Hayden and fullback John Brockington took over and steadily moved the ball to midfield, where the Bucks had to punt.
Ohio State's defense held Michigan again and the Buckeyes took over, but this time Michigan intercepted a Kern pass on the Ohio State 34 and returned it to the 18-yard line. Michigan again could not move the ball and settled for a game-tying field goal on the first play, second quarter.
Following two exchanges of punts, Ohio State took the ball on the Michigan 47 and moved to a touchdown in 13 plays, the tally coming on a 26-yard play from Kern to Bruce Jankowski. The conversion was good, and Ohio State led Michigan 10-3, a margin that held until halftime.
Buckeye fans got a scare when Michigan Quarterback Don Moorehead led his team 50 yards to a touchdown early in the second half, but defensive halfback Tim Anderson saved the game from a tie by blocking the attempted extra point. Ohio State still led, 10-9.
Both teams were unable to launch a successful drive for the rest of the third period, but Ohio State marched to the Michigan nine-yard line early in the final quarter before reaching a fourth down situation, and Fred Schram booted another field goal, this one good from 27 yards out. That made it 13-9, Ohio State.
Three plays later, linebacker Stan White intercepted a Michigan pass on the Michigan 23-yard line and returned it to the nine, where the Buckeyes ran two plays then scored on a perfect option play by Kern, who held the ball just long enough to get the defense to commit itself, then pitched out to Leo Hayden for the touchdown.
Leading 20-9, Ohio State appeared to have the ballgame wrapped up until a referee ruled an Ohio State player touched a punt that was recovered by Michigan on the 50-yard line and the Wolverines drove to the Ohio 24 before the Ohio State defense held on downs. Ohio State took possession with little time left and marched all the way to the Michigan doorstep before the game ended.
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