With Ohio State taking on Penn State on Saturday afternoon, there are many things that come to mind when the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions get together. Braxton Miller making Penn State defenders look silly in State College in 2012, Joey Bosa’s walk-off sack a couple years later, and Chris Gamble’s interception return for a touchdown in 2002 are just a few memories that come to mind over the last 20 years.
The interception return by Gamble was especially important, since it turned out to be the game-winning score in a game that would end 13-7 in Ohio State’s favor. In a game that was hanging in the balance, the interception return for a touchdown whipped Ohio Stadium into a frenzy, with some Ohio State fans saying it was the loudest it has ever been at The Horseshoe. The Buckeyes remained undefeated and went on to win the national title that year.
While it is great watching the Buckeye offense score touchdowns, there is something special about seeing Ohio State score on a non-offensive play, whether it be a defensive or special teams score. We know how prolific Ohio State’s offense has become so it doesn’t come as a shock when they score, but when the defense or special teams score, you certainly remember it.
Today’s question: What is your favorite non-offensive touchdown by Ohio State?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: Steve Miller’s pick-six against Alabama in the 2015 Sugar Bowl
I almost went with Jerron Cage’s interception return for a touchdown against Penn State last year because there is nothing quite like a FAT GUY TOUCHDOWN! Defensive lineman Steve Miller wasn’t quite as big as Cage, but the moment was certainly larger. Miller’s pick-six came with just over three minutes to go in the third quarter, extending Ohio State’s lead to 34-21.
The interception return for a touchdown was the first pick-six thrown by an Alabama quarterback since 2007. The fact that the Crimson Tide went seven years in between allowing interceptions that were returned for touchdowns is incredible, especially considering how much more teams have been throwing the football over the years. The Buckeyes would eventually go on to win the game 42-35, allowing Ohio State to move on to the national title game, as well as get the stigma they couldn’t beat an SEC team in a big game off their backs.
I remember being at a bar in NW Columbus on the night of New Year’s Day watching this game. Morale was down early in the game when Alabama jumped out to a first half lead, but spirits got better as Ohio State took the lead. The bar really let loose when Miller returned the interception for a score. I know I was making puns about Steve Miller Band songs after the score. There’s no doubt that if there was a list of top-five moments from the 2014 season, this score would have to be on it.
Meredith’s answer: Brian Rolle’s two-point conversion return against Navy in 2009
Last week marked the seventh anniversary of surrender cobra, when Michigan State blocked and returned a Michigan punt for a touchdown on a stormy day in Ann Arbor to seal the victory over their in-state rivals and give Ohio State fans one more reason to cheer. This, my friends, is my favorite non-offensive collegiate score of all time.
Mine is kind of irrelevant, because it came in the season opener against an unranked, non-Power Five opponent. However, I was a sophomore at the Air Force Academy in 2009 when Ohio State faced Navy in the first game of its season. As a result, I had even more reason to be cheering for the Buckeyes in that matchup.
Things were uncomfortably close in the fourth quarter (as they tend to be when facing the triple-option service academies). Ohio State was up two scores in the fourth quarter when the Buckeyes turned the ball over on downs on the Navy 15-yard line. On the very next play, Navy quarterback Ricky Dobbs completed an 85-yard touchdown pass.
The Midshipmen were now down eight. Five plays later, the Navy showed why they’re funded by the Department of Defense and hauled in a pick from quarterback Terrelle Pryor with nearly four minutes left in the game. The Midshipmen went 33 yards in three plays, capped by a 24-yard Dobbs rushing touchdown. Navy was down two with 2:23 remaining as they lined up for their two-point conversion attempt.
That’s when Ohio State’s Brian Rolle picked off Dobbs’ pass and returned it 99 yards the other direction in a rare four-point swing, halting Navy’s surging momentum and effectively ending the upset bid.
The rest of the 2009 season had its ups and downs. The following week, Ohio State would lose to USC. Later, the Buckeyes would fall to Purdue before turning on the jets and closing things out with top-11 wins over Penn State and Iowa, a win against Michigan and a Rose Bowl victory over Oregon.
I’m not sure why that moment sticks with me. Maybe it’s because it felt like Navy had everything going for it heading into that two-point play. Maybe it’s because 99-yard plays are generally so exciting. Or maybe it’s because a two-point play the other way was the last thing any of us expected at that moment.