Ohio State football has unrivaled tradition and history. Now, it’s time to relive those epic moments once more. Each Monday over the coming weeks, you can listen to a new episode from Season Two of I Want to Go Back — Land-Grant Holy Land’s exclusive podcast series that brings to life the greatest lost stories from Ohio State football history. This season, we’ll go back to OSU’s rise to power in the early days of the Big Ten Conference.
On this week’s episode — Pete Stinchcomb Leads OSU to Its First Rose Bowl
It was 1920 and OSU needed to prove the program was bigger than one star. Chic Harley, Ohio State’s modest, All-American halfback had graduated. In Chic’s three seasons of varsity eligibility, he led OSU to two conference titles — the first Big Ten championships in the history of Ohio State football.
Stepping in for Harley this season would be Pete Stinchcomb, who moved back to his natural position at halfback after spending the 1919 season at quarterback. The 1920 schedule did the Buckeyes and their coach John Wilce no favors. The front end didn’t look so challenging — Ohio Wesleyan, Oberlin, Purdue. Then things got real: Wisconsin, a road trip against the Amos Alonzo Stagg coached Chicago Maroons, Michigan, and then a trip to the only team Ohio State lost to a season ago — Illinois.
Far from Columbus, in Pasadena a new tradition was unfolding. The Pacific Coast Conference, the forerunner to the PAC 12, had an idea to match up one of its best teams against one of the best teams from the Eastern United States. Those teams would meet in the Rose Bowl. In the Rose Bowl the previous season, Harvard took down Oregon. That game established a tradition of one of the best teams in the East playing one of the best in the West, which would last until the start of the BCS Era.
For Ohio State and the Big Ten, if you were good enough you wouldn’t just win the conference — you might just get a ticket punched to Pasadena. But the path to sunny California went through a brutal Big Ten schedule.