Everybody knows that one of the best parts of being a sports fan is debating and dissecting the most (and least) important questions in the sporting world with your friends. So, we’re bringing that to the pages of LGHL with our favorite head-to-head column: You’re Nuts.
In You’re Nuts, two LGHL staff members will take differing sides of one question and argue their opinions passionately. Then, in the end, it’s up to you to determine who’s right and who’s nuts. This week’s topic is a little bit different, as its much less of a head-to-head and more a pair of fond memories of a Buckeye legend.
This week’s topic: Our favorite Dwayne Haskins game at Ohio State.
Josh’s Pick: Michigan (2017)
First and foremost, I want to offer up thoughts and prayers to the Haskins family and to the individual(s) involved in Saturday’s tragic accident. It still doesn’t seem real to me, a stranger, so I cannot imagine what the friends and family of those involved are going through. I have no better words to offer, so I would just say God bless you all.
This is a tough one, Gene. I really didn’t know if I wanted to write a piece like this, and frankly, I struggled with how to do it. This is probably the fourth or fifth time I’ve re-written the first 100 or so words. We (maybe I’m generalizing, but it certainly applies to me) have a certain subject matter that we feel comfortable writing about or talking about, and it can be very tricky or unsettling to step outside of that box. I wondered to myself: Who am I to write about this? Do my words ultimately mean anything? Will they be impactful?
Maybe the answers are: nobody, no, and no again. But I still wanted to write about Dwayne Haskins, despite not knowing him personally. And I felt passionately about it, because I feel like any one of us – and I’m just generalizing “people” here, human beings – is capable of lifting others up. Is a family member of his going to read this? I don’t know, maybe. Maybe it’s a friend. Maybe it’s another stranger, but one who felt a certain connection to Haskins. Or maybe it’s just somebody who needs a reminder to celebrate others, in life or in death. I have no clue. But we as people don’t have to know each other intimately to celebrate one another, or to celebrate one’s life. So if this short little blurb means something to one other person, then it was worth writing. If not, it was still worth it, because this is my way of paying respect to another individual whose time on Earth ended far too soon.
Dwayne Haskins brought me joy when he was at Ohio State. That was our connection. He had a positive impact on my life, even if for a minute or an hour. I enjoyed the hell of out of watching him play football for the Buckeyes. The game that sticks out the most – by far – is the 2017 version of The Rivalry. He came on for an injured J.T. Barrett, conducted himself like a confident, proven vet, and propelled OSU to a victory in the Big House.
Barrett went down in the mid-third, and I (like many Buckeye fans) went into panic mode. Ohio State was the better team, but Haskins was largely unproven. He had looked good in a small sample size, but this was The Game! I can only imagine what his nerves were like. But he kept a poker face the entire time. He went 6-for-7 passing, added a huge run to setup the go-ahead touchdown, and gave us signs of what was to come during his record-setting season the following year.
The run preceding J.K. Dobbins’ go-ahead touchdown was a special one, but the moment I’ll likely never forget was his amazing completion to Austin Mack down the right sideline. It was a crucial 3rd-and-13, and the game wasn’t quite hanging in the balance, but that throw gave OSU fans the same confidence that Haskins was playing with. He threaded the needle between two Michigan defenders, hit Mack right between the numbers, and did so without laying his wide receiver out to dry. It was the perfect tight window throw that we would grow accustomed to seeing from Haskins in the future.
Once the Buckeyes took the lead, they never gave it back. In fact, perhaps feeding off the confidence of their backup QB, the team seemed to take it up a notch. The defense pitched a shutout for the remainder of the game, and coach Urban Meyer leaned on the dynamic ground game to support Haskins’ efforts. The game was not a historic one versus two matchup, and it didn’t come down to the wire, but it will be memorable for a long time to come. Haskins saved the day, and he gave Ohio State fans a sneak peak of the special things he would go on to accomplish throughout the rest of his career.
Haskins was a special quarterback, and by all accounts, a special person. The effect he had on others is what we should remember and keep celebrating. His football records still stand, and maybe they will eventually be broken in the future, but his lasting impact on others will not be forgotten. Here’s to you, Dwayne Haskins. May you rest in peace.
Gene’s Pick: Michigan (2018)
I can only echo Josh’s sentiments here in the stunning passing of Buckeye legend Dwayne Haskins. The former Ohio State quarterback meant so much to so many people, and his terrific efforts on the field donning the Scarlet and Gray only pale in comparison to the relationships and lasting memories he made with people off of it. That being said, it’s incredibly fitting that Josh and I’s fondest memories of No. 7 as a player both came in the sport’s biggest rivalry on the biggest stage, where Haskins got a chance to show off every bit of his football stardom.
While I think more people remember the game Josh highlighted for Haskins’ efforts replacing an injured J.T. Barrett and leading Ohio State to a comeback win over Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2017, he followed it up with a damn impressive performance in the 2018 edition of The Game as well.
As Ohio State’s starting quarterback in that 2018 season, Haskins put up absolutely ridiculous numbers. Completing 70% of his passes, the gunslinger totaled over 4,800 yards with 50 touchdowns to just eight interceptions. Those marks still stands as the most yards and touchdown passes ever in one season by a Buckeye quarterback, and Haskins also holds six of the top 12 single-game passing performances all-time in program history, as well as twice tying the record for most touchdown passes in a single game with six.
One of those six-touchdown efforts came in that year’s Michigan game. The Buckeye defense wasn’t exactly stellar in 2018, and as a result the Buckeye dropped a stunner at Purdue — a game in which Haskins was forced to throw the ball 73 times — that derailed their season. Heading into the season finale against the No. 4 Wolverines, there was not a ton of hope that Ohio State was going to be able to put together a good enough performance on the defensive end to keep up its win streak again its hated rival. However, what people didn’t account for was the X-factor that was Dwayne Haskins.
The No. 10 Buckeyes would go on to defeat TTUN 62-39 in Columbus to close out the regular season with a bang. Haskins was nearly perfect in that game, passing for just under 400 yards with six touchdowns and no turnovers. A contest that also saw the beginning of a storied Ohio State career for Chris Olave, Haskins moved the ball around with ease, completing a pair of touchdown passes each to Olave and Parris Campbell as well as another one each to Johnnie Dixon and K.J. Hill. No matter who the receiver was on the other end, Haskins was hitting his mark, and his performance helped lead the Buckeyes to a dominant win over Jim Harbaugh and the boys.
Haskins, despite having a woefully flawed defense on the other end of his team, would go on to propel Ohio State to a Big Ten Championship win over Northwestern and a Rose Bowl win over Washington, totaling eight touchdowns and only one pick over the two postseason contests. We only got to see one full season of Haskins in Columbus, and while his defensive coaching staff caused the team to come up short of a national title, Dwayne Haskins showed the world that he was a star, and that is how all of Buckeye Nation will remember him.
Rest easy, No. 7.