In music, there are a total of eight steps in an octatonic scale – hence the root word, octa. The notes a scale revolve around are: A,B,C,D,E,F and G. There are also half-step notes that go sharp (higher) and flat (lower) – those we’ll discuss in a later story.
Ohio State’s 2012 season, in a way, was an ascending scale. Head coach Urban Meyer had entered into the Big Ten proverbial ring, and was laying the smackdown on anyone that dared get in the Scarlet and Gray’s way. When the Buckeyes faced the Purdue Boilermakers, they were No. 7 in the country with an undefeated record of 7-0.
Like any octatonic scale, they take time to learn – you just don’t wake up on Saturday morning and know how to play a G major scale. As Purdue rolled into Columbus, Ohio for a noon contest on Oct. 15, 2012, the squadron led by coach Meyer was about to learn how to finish their eighth game of the season with a win.
Playing scales, especially when you are being judged in competition, can be hard; you don’t know what scales are being asked, but you know what can be asked. The reason why this game is a memorable ‘Meyer Moment’ isn’t because the Buckeyes won in overtime, but it was how they won.
A backup quarterback took the reigns under center, and had to navigate against a program that has been known to be the figurative trap scale that has ruined/came close to ruining Ohio State’s audition in front of the college football world – spoiling Big Ten championships and national championship bids in the process.
Let’s look back at the time Ohio State survived Purdue by way of Kenny Guiton.
How’d we get here
Three weeks after the narrow escape in East Lansing, Mich. behind a potent running attack, the Buckeyes went back-to-back weeks winning under the lights. Meyer’s first night game at Ohio State featured an eye-popping 63-38 chopping of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and a not-that-close 52-49 win on the road against Indiana.
Purdue, on the other hand, suffered three losses. Before coming to Columbus, the Boilermakers entertained Michigan and Wisconsin at home in consecutive weeks – losing both in blowout fashion.
This wasn’t a good time to be fourth year coach Danny Hope. At this point in time, Hope had compiled a 19-24 record at Purdue. To put that into perspective, Meyer was 111-23 overall. Making things even worse for the Boilermakers was the fact that they have historically lost in Columbus.
Carrying a 25-5-2 record of losing in Columbus, Hope tried to string together a second consecutive win against the Buckeyes. It would be daunting, but not impossible.
You play 60 minutes, not 30
Now, onto the game.
At times throughout the Meyer regime, the Buckeyes have had slow starts. Eventually, the Scarlet and Gray find ways for the engine to start, and end up breaking away from the competition.
In this game, it took longer than expected for the OSU caravan to get off to the races.
After Purdue received the kickoff, they were placed on their own 17-yard line. Apparently, that was too close for Boilermaker quarterback Caleb TerBush. TerBush connected with wide receiver Akeem Shavers, who took it to the house for six. One play, 83 yards, and advantage Purdue.
However, they get their extra point blocked. (This would be an ‘x-factor’ in the waning minutes of the game).
It took a little over nine minutes for the Buckeyes to find an answer to the Boilermakers’ six points. Quarterback Braxton Miller guided the Buckeyes to the redzone, and took off from eight yards out for the game tying touchdown. Unlike Purdue, Ohio State’s kicker, Drew Basil, nailed the extra point to give the home team the one-point lead.
That lead would last for, literally, 12 seconds.
Akeem Hunt housed the ensuing kickoff 100 yards. Purdue made this extra point, and pulled ahead 13-7.
After a second quarter that featured a few scoring chances, the halftime score was still 13-7 in favor of the visitors.
That eighth win for Ohio State was shaping up to be a frustrating one. Of the seven drives the Buckeyes had in the first half, only one of them exceeded 20 yards – their touchdown drive.
There was a bright side, though: the deficit could’ve been worse. If it weren’t for Buckeyes defensive standout C.J. Barnett intercepting a TerBush pass in the endzone midway through the second quarter, the Boilermakers might’ve had a double-digit lead heading into the break.
Hope had somehow guided his squad to the lead after 30 minutes of play. Unfortunately for him, you gotta play 60 minutes to get the win.
But at least they brought the world’s largest drum.
The ballad of Kenny Guiton
Now we get to the man, the myth, the legend. In the sections before, I discussed the lead up to what Guiton was about to go up against. The Buckeyes were cruising throughout the season, but seemed to lock the brakes in the first half against Purdue.
Going back to the music theme of this piece: the Buckeyes were about to figuratively flub the last note of their scale – and judges remember the last note of a scale.
Good thing Guiton was there to save the day. But, before we get to the legend of (Low G) Kenny G, we have to look at how he got the chance to play in the first place.
Miller still struggled to find his groove in the third quarter. However, he did hit a deep pass to wide receiver Chris Fields, setting up a Carlos Hyde touchdown. The mixed results from Braxton came from the swarming of Boilermaker defenders that forced broken up passes, sacks and a fumble.
All this prevented Braxton Miller from doing Braxton Miller things.
After blocking a Purdue field goal late in the third frame, the Buckeyes dug their feet into the ground and cranked up the intensity level on their comeback efforts. With all the momentum in the world following the block, and only a 20-14 deficit, Miller started the new drive with a 37-yard rush up the near sideline.
As Josh Johnson, the tackler, got up, Braxton stayed down. On that cloudy Saturday afternoon in Columbus, the air was sucked out of The ‘Shoe.
It took a while before Miller was carted off the field. In that moment, Guiton was tasked with leading the Buckeyes’ comeback efforts – filling in for the heart and soul of the Scarlet and Gray.
Guiton’s first drive against the Boilermakers went uneventful; his second drive ended in a safety after an illegal block was called in the endzone.
Two drives, two points surrendered, and now an eight point deficit with 10 minutes and change remaining. As time bled off the clock, this game had the hallmarks of a colossal loss to the hands of the Boilermakers. Those pesky characters in black and gold had been the bane of Ohio State’s existence since the start of the millennium. They tried to ruin the Buckeyes’ 2002 championship season, ruined a 2010 championship bid for the scarlet and gray, and were about to take credit as the first team to defeat Urban Meyer as the headman in charge of a Big Ten program.
Forty-seven seconds were all that stood between the Boilermakers and their new found destiny. Just think, this could’ve been a factor for Danny Hope getting a new lease on life in West Lafayette.
But, the drive of a lifetime was about to unfold in front of 105,290 people inside Ohio Stadium.
Having to go 61 yards for the touchdown and game-tying two-point conversion, Meyer and the Buckeyes knew that every second mattered – as did every yard. A 39-yard reception by Devin Smith, followed up by an eight yard catch by Evan Spencer put the Buckeyes on the Purdue 14-yard line with 28 seconds remaining.
With time ticking away, passing was the only viable option to the endzone. Two Guiton passes wound up being incomplete, and the third one, thrown to a contested Spencer, also fell incomplete.
However, the yellow hanky was thrown on the play.
Call it what you will, but it seems the college football gods are benefactors to Ohio State cementing their place in college football lore via pass-interference/holding calls in the final moments of close contests. In this case, the Boilermakers committed a dumbfounded pass interference call; the consequence being the ball placed at the two yard line with eight seconds to play.
Ohio State might’ve been able to get two plays off, but they needed only one, for Kenny G was the man under center.
Even though Guiton got the touchdown, the Buckeyes still needed to get the two-point conversion. If they didn’t get the deuce, this remarkable drive would be for not.
Lined up in the all-too-familiar shotgun formation, Guiton took the snap, scampered to his right – drawing one of the Purdue lineman – and looked back to his left and saw a wide open Jeff Heuerman.
Just like that: overtime.
And once again, Guiton made the right plays when he needed to. A 17-yard pass to Jake Stoneburner put the Buckeyes on the doorstep of a touchdown, which was later punched in by Hyde.
Purdue, which was probably feeling the ill effects of an Ohio State team on the warpath, folded on their rebuttal drive. A pair of incompletions, followed by a just-make-this-fourth-down-manageable short pass, put the Boilermakers on a 4th-and-5 at the OSU 20.
From there, Purdue Pete’s last stand involved a rushed TerBush, who launched the football on his back foot as the pocket collapsed.
From a fan’s perspective, especially if you were in The ‘Shoe on that faithful afternoon, the 2012 edition of Ohio State-Purdue was memorable because hope felt lost after trailing 22-14. There was no Braxton, a stagnate offense that really didn’t click for 55 minutes, and the nauseating feeling that Purdue was going to beat Ohio State, again. Being at the game, I remember, clearly, the Braveheart-esque speech that one of the Block ‘O’ members was trying to recite over the microphone in the South Stands in an attempt to rally support.
Kenny Guiton jump-started the fact that a back-up quarterback at Ohio State can lead a team in the heat of battle. Whether that comes from Meyer’s ability to teach his players, or the intrinsic motivation to win, Ohio State has become a factory of clutch fill-in quarterbacks – and it all stemmed from this game with Guiton.
For a backup quarterback to walk into the spotlight is one thing, but for him to lead the cavalry on a game-tying drive, then lead his team on a game winning overtime drive ... that doesn’t happen to every program.
Ohio State has now seen that happen with three quarterbacks since Meyer’s arrival in Columbus. Guiton, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones filled in at times for an injured starter, and led the Buckeyes to dramatic, improbable wins.
But, this shouldn’t be surprising. Like in music, the best musicians always find ways to complete their scales, prepared pieces and whatever sight reading obstacle is thrown their way. Its what separates the good musicians from the best musicians.
Over the past four seasons, Meyer’s program have transcended from being the best, to downright legendary.
The Program and Poster
Unearthed from the gameday program archive, the Ohio State-Purdue program featured Ohrian Johnson, Corey “Philly” Brown, Nathan Williams and Jake Stoneburner.
On the inside, the souvenir poster had a quartet of Buckeye stars. Rod Smith, Mike Bennett, Taylor Rice and Adam Griffin graced the fold out.
What happened around the college football world?
• There were 12 undefeated teams entering Week 8 of the 2012 season. Ohio State and Ohio University were the only two programs to be 7-0. Believe it or not, Rutgers was 6-0 and Cincinnati was 5-0. After Week 8, there would only be 11 undefeated programs – Cincinnati lost to Toledo.
• Michigan got the best of Michigan State, 12-10. A go-ahead field goal with five seconds left was the difference maker in the Wolverines taking home the Paul Bunyan Trophy. Three years later, the Spartans would use special teams of their own to beat the Wolverines. The blocked punt from last season never gets old.
• Notre Dame kept on convincing the world that they were the team of destiny, as they eked by BYU, 17-14. Earlier in the season, the Fighting Irish just barely got passed Purdue, 20-17.
Current Events at the time
• The final presidential debate took place in Boca Raton, Fla. on Oct. 22, 2012. Incumbent President Barack Obama took on Republican nominee Mitt Romney in a debate that switched from foreign policy to issues within the United States borders.
• Michigan couldn’t catch a break sports wise . As the Wolverines and Spartans seasons spiraled downward, the Detroit Tigers landed the crushing blow to the Great Lakes State. In the World Series, San Francisco defeated Detroit in a sweep. Pablo Sandoval was awarded the World Series MVP, as the Giants won their second title in three seasons.