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History of College GameDay in Columbus

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ESPN College GameDay will make its 15th appearance at Ohio State on Saturday for No. 2 OSU vs. No. 3 Michigan. Credit: Courtesy of @CollegeGameDay

ESPN College GameDay will make its 15th appearance at Ohio State on Saturday for No. 2 OSU vs. No. 3 Michigan. Credit: Courtesy of @CollegeGameDay

ESPN’s “College GameDay” talking head Lee Corso is as much of a staple in college football as “The Game,” the annual clash between bitter rivals Ohio State and Michigan.

On Oct. 5, 1996, with hundreds of fans in scarlet and gray behind him, Corso was wrapping up the final segment of the show which previewed the OSU-Penn State game that day in Columbus. When Corso picked the Buckeyes, he donned a Brutus Buckeye mascot head which sent the crowd behind the set into a frenzy.

Twenty years later, the 81-year-old former football coach and the rest of the GameDay crew will return to Columbus for the matchup between the No. 2 Buckeyes and No. 3 Wolverines. “College GameDay” has been to Columbus 14 times before, the second most of any school trailing only Alabama. But only one game has rivaled the stakes of Saturday’s edition of “The Game.”

Here is a rundown of all games that “College GameDay” has been on location at Ohio State.

Oct. 5, 1996: No. 4 Penn State at No. 3 Ohio State, OSU 38-7

The 1996 Buckeyes were possibly the best team in school history not to win a national title. Against Penn State, they proved it.

The two-quarterback system of Stanley Jackson and Joe Germaine was executed perfectly versus the Nittany Lions. Coming off a dominant top-10 victory at Notre Dame the week before, the Buckeyes’ offense ran for 350 yards and threw for another 215 yards. OSU running back Pepe Pearson ran for 141 yards and a touchdown, averaging 5 yards per carry.

Jackson and Germaine each threw for two touchdowns, and wide receiver Dimitrious Stanley caught five passes for 105 yards and two scores.

OSU rolled through the rest of the season until coach John Cooper and the Buckeyes lost to Michigan in the final game.

Oct. 4, 1997: No. 8 Iowa at No. 7 Ohio State, OSU 23-7

OSU coach John Cooper was still rolling with the two-quarterback system that he installed a season ago with Jackson and Germaine. OSU scored 16 unanswered points through two-and-a-half quarters, but it was the ground game that lifted OSU’s offense.

Pearson had 106 yards rushing, but running back Michael Wiley was the difference maker on offense. He had 14 carries for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver David Boston also caught a touchdown.

In a span of two minutes and eight seconds, there were three fumbles by both teams — two by Iowa. The Hawkeyes totaled only 308 yards of offense but threw for more yards than OSU.

The Buckeyes went on to lose at Penn State the following week.

Oct. 3, 1998: No. 7 Penn State at No. 1 Ohio State, OSU 28-9

Many who thought the 1996 Buckeyes missed an opportunity to win the school’s first outright national title since 1968 saw the 1998 Buckeyes as the team that would accomplish that goal.

OSU began the season as the No. 1 team in the country and rode the shoulders of quarterback Joe Germaine and running back Michael Wiley. The Penn State defense limited an OSU offense that had averaged over 500 yards per game. The Nittany Lions made Wiley a non-factor, but the OSU defense had one of its best performances of the year.

Penn State gained only 181 yards from scrimmage and had to punt 10 times. Germaine threw for 213 yards and a touchdown.

OSU’s only loss of the season came at home to unranked Michigan State, who spoiled OSU’s championship hopes.

Sept. 14, 2002: No. 10 Washington State at No. 6 Ohio State, OSU 25-7

The Cougars and Buckeyes entered the Week 3 matchup at 2-0, each looking for its first statement win of the season. OSU mustered two field goals from Mike Nugent in the first half, but rallied behind freshman running back Maurice Clarett, who proved he was on his way to being a superstar.

OSU scored 19 unanswered points in the second half, including two touchdowns from Clarett. The running back carried the ball 31 times for 230 yards — an average of 7.4 yards per carry. OSU only completed 4-of-10 in pass attempts, but Clarett’s play and the Buckeye defense that allowed just 17 yards on the ground sent the Cougars home with its first loss of the season.

Nov. 23, 2002: No. 9 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State, OSU 14-9

Jim Tressel and the Ohio State Buckeyes stood just one game away from a shot at the national title. This was one of the most anticipated OSU-Michigan matchups in half a decade.

OSU had survived the last two weeks with a last-minute drive against Purdue and an overtime victory at Illinois to enter the final weekend of the season at 12-0 for the first time in school history. Against the Wolverines, OSU would need another set of late-game heroics to beat its archrival.

The Wolverines took a 9-7 lead into halftime and both defenses stood tall for the majority of the second half. On OSU’s second-to-last drive, quarterback Craig Krenzel converted on a fourth-and-1, then later connected with Clarett on a 25-yard completion to set up a Maurice Hall touchdown run to take a 14-9 lead with 4:55 remaining.

Michigan got the ball back with under a minute to go, and drove down inside the OSU 25-yard line. On the final play, OSU safety Will Allen intercepted the go-ahead touchdown. The Buckeyes headed to Tempe, Arizona and won the 2002 BCS National Championship.

Aug. 30, 2003: No. 17 Washington at No. 2 Ohio State, OSU 28-9

In the 2003 season opener, the Buckeyes began their quest to defend their national title, but they would attempt to do so without star running back Maurice Clarett, who was suspended for his sophomore season for taking improper benefits.

Even without Clarett’s services, OSU dominated on the ground, scoring four touchdowns from three different players. The outcome was never in doubt with OSU leading 21-0 at halftime and the Buckeye defense having allowed seven rushing yards at game’s end.

OSU looked like a team that could repeat as national champions.

Nov. 15, 2003: No. 10 Purdue at No. 4 Ohio State, OSU 16-13 (OT)

Following an early October loss to Wisconsin, the Buckeyes rattled off four consecutive victories entering the game against the Boilermakers. Purdue quarterback Kyle Orton threw for 249 yards on 27 of 49 passing. Purdue gave a scare to OSU the year before in West Lafayette, Indiana, and nearly came out of Columbus with a victory in 2003.

OSU defensive lineman Tim Anderson recovered a fumble by Purdue in Boilermaker territory with less than two minutes remaining. Mike Nugent came on for the game-winning field goal attempt, but it was blocked and the game went to overtime.

OSU started with the ball and had to settle for a field goal after going three-and-out. On Purdue’s possession, OSU cornerback Chris Gamble dropped a would-be interception that would’ve ended the game. The defense recovered and held and Purdue kicker Ben Jones missed a field goal that would have sent the game into a second overtime.

OSU lost the next week at No. 5 Michigan.

Sept. 10, 2005: No. 2 Texas at No. 4 Ohio State, Texas 25-22

Following a disappointing 2004 season that ended with a romping of No. 7 Michigan, the fourth-ranked Buckeyes were set to battle the Texas Longhorns and eventual Heisman trophy winner Vince Young in the first test of the 2005 season.

OSU started the game with Troy Smith at quarterback over Justin Zwick. Smith ended the 2004 season under center. The Buckeyes trailed 10-0 early, but retook the lead 16-13 before halftime.

In the third quarter, coach Jim Tressel put Zwick into the game trying to hold on to the 19-16 lead. Zwick led the team down the field on his first drive. He found tight end Ryan Hamby in the end zone, but Hamby bobbled the ball and dropped what would’ve been a touchdown that put OSU up two scores. Instead, OSU came away with three points and left the door open for the Longhorns.

After OSU kicker Josh Huston missed a 50-yard field goal, his first miss on six attempts in the game, Texas only needed a touchdown and an extra point for the lead. Young gave them just that.

With 2:37 left in the game, Young connected with Limas Sweed for the go-ahead and game-winning score.

Texas went on to win the national championship over the Southern California Trojans.

Sept. 23, 2006: No. 24 Penn State at No. 1 Ohio State, OSU 28-6

The 2006 Buckeyes were heavy national championship favorites. After OSU beat the Longhorns in Austin, Texas, two weeks earlier, OSU welcomed the Nittany Lions to Columbus. It took 20 minutes for the first points to go on the board for both teams. Penn State kicker Kevin Kelly knocked home a short field goal for a 3-0 Nittany Lions lead heading into halftime.

In the second half, OSU wide receiver Brian Robiskie and running back Antonio Pittman each had a touchdown, putting the Buckeyes up 14-3. Kelly trimmed the Penn State deficit to eight with another field goal before the OSU defense took over.

Late in the fourth quarter, OSU safety Malcolm Jenkins and OSU cornerback Antonio Smith each had interception returns for touchdowns which sealed an OSU victory.

Nov. 18, 2006: No. 2 Michigan at No. 1 Ohio State, OSU 42-39

The Game of the Century. A game that this 2016 edition of the rivalry has been endlessly compared to. 11-0 Michigan against 11-0 OSU with a spot in the national championship game on the line. Both defenses were expected to make the difference, but the offenses consisting of multiple future NFL players exploded for a shootout.

The game started quickly with Michigan running back Mike Hart, quarterback Chad Henne and wide receiver Mario Manningham charging down the field for a 7-0 lead just 2:28 into the game. OSU quarterback Troy Smith followed the act with a touchdown strike to Roy Hall to tie the game at seven.

In the second quarter, freshman running back Chris “Beanie” Wells dashed away from the Wolverine defense for a 52-yard rushing score. On the next drive, Smith connected with do-it-all playmaker Ted Ginn Jr. off a play fake from 39 yards out to put OSU up 28-14.

The teams traded punches throughout the night, ending with Ginn recovering an onside kick to preserve a 42-39 victory that sent OSU to the national championship game where the Buckeyes lost to Urban Meyer and the Florida Gators.

Oct. 25, 2008: No. 3 Penn State at No. 9 Ohio State, Penn State 13-6

The Ohio State Buckeyes had won five games in a row following a blowout loss at USC earlier in the season. Freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor had started in all five games, including a close win at Wisconsin. Penn State came into Columbus in first place in the Big Ten and 8-0 overall.

OSU led 6-3 in the fourth quarter and had an opportunity to increase its lead following a Penn State missed field goal. With 10:38 remaining in the game, Pryor fumbled on third-and-1 and the ball was recovered by the Nittany Lions.

Penn State backup quarterback Pat Devlin came in for the injured Daryll Clark hoping to take the lead with the ball in OSU territory. Running back Evan Royster gained a crucial first down on 3rd-and-2 inside OSU’s five yard line. On second-and-goal, Devlin ran a quarterback sneak up the  middle for the game’s go-ahead score.

Kelly connected on a field goal with 1:08 remaining, increasing the lead to 13-6. On the final chance for OSU, Pryor threw an interception in the end zone, sealing his first loss as a starter at OSU.

Sept. 12, 2009: No. 3 University of Southern California at No. 8 Ohio State, USC 18-15

OSU suffered an embarrassing 35-3 loss in Los Angeles in 2008, but this time the Buckeyes had the Trojans in Ohio Stadium. In front of a record crowd, OSU took a 15-10 lead into the fourth quarter.

Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley was under center for Pete Carroll and the Trojans. Pryor was back with the Buckeyes for an improved sophomore season. In the fourth quarter, Barkley and running back tandem Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson took advantage of a tired OSU defense.

The USC offense ran 14 plays and drove 86 yards in six minutes and 10 seconds for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:05 remaining in the game. It was OSU’s first non-conference home loss since Texas in 2005.

Nov. 13, 2010: Penn State at No. 8 Ohio State, OSU 38-14

The 8-1 Buckeyes squandered a No.1 ranking at Wisconsin two weeks before its home matchup against Penn State, but OSU remained in line for a Big Ten championship.

At halftime, Penn State led quarterback Terrelle Pryor and the Buckeyes 14-3, quieting the crowd at the ‘Shoe. However, in the second half, it was all OSU.

Running back Dan “Boom” Herron ran started the half with a touchdown. He ran for 190 yards in the game. On the following Penn State possession, defensive back Devon Torrence returned an interception for a touchdown and OSU never looked back.

Pryor threw for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter and OSU used another pick-six to win a lopsided game against Penn State.

All wins in the 2010 season were vacated following the Tattoo-Gate scandal.

Nov. 21, 2015: No. 9 Michigan State at No. 3 Ohio State, Michigan State 17-14

The 2015 Buckeyes had underachieved coming into the second-to-last week of the season. But it didn’t matter. If OSU won out, coach Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes had a chance at repeating as national champions.

This was the first game in five years College GameDay had been in Columbus. OSU came in as 14-point favorites versus Michigan State, but the Spartan defense stymied the Buckeye offense all game.

Running back Ezekiel Elliott had just four carries after the team’s first drive, which ended in an Elliott touchdown run. OSU had just 133 yards of total offense.

Michigan State backup quarterback Tyler O’Connor played for the injured Connor Cook against an OSU defense that had not yielded much against opponents all year. O’Connor and running backs L.J. Scott and Gerald Holmes did enough to pull off the upset of the year, ending OSU’s 23-game winning streak.

Nov. 26, 2016: No. 3 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State

Saturday marks the 15th time College GameDay graces the OSU campus. The show will be held outside of the RPAC by the Tuttle Park Place turnaround. The final 90 minutes of the show will be broadcasted from inside the stadium.

GameDay begins at 7 a.m. with the temperature at 35 degrees, wind chill of 30. Temperature is expected to be 42 degrees and mostly cloudy at kickoff at 12:12 p.m.

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