In 1935, there was no Associated Press poll yet, but the consensus among the sports press the Buckeyes and Fighting Irish were two of the top national title contenders.
If there were any doubt, that was erased by the most famous of all those scribes, Grantland Rice.
His nationally syndicated “Sportlight” column was filed from Columbus, and legendary DDN sports editor Si Burick noted that Rice’s presence greatly raised the probability the top players in the game would get All-American recognition at the end of the season because Rice was one of the selectors and the rest of the then-powerful Eastern press often followed his lead.
Rice wrote prior to the game it would be a close one, and Burick predicted the passing game would play a big role.
(Meanwhile, a note in the top right-hand corner of one edition of the paper noted that Columbus police would be on the lookout for drunks during the game.)
Burick would prove to be prophetic as the game came down to a last-play pass from Notre Dame’s Bill Shakespeare that Wayne Milner caught in the end zone for the winning score.
“Notre Dame came out of the maw of hell to beat Ohio State 18-13 today before 81,000 and gain the greatest football victory in the long and brilliant history of the Blue and Gold,” Rice wrote with his signature bombast.
A year later, the teams met in South Bend for a game that featured considerably less attention and action.
Burick made the trip for the DDN, and his game recap noted Ohio State’s 7-2 loss was marked by many missed scoring opportunities for the Buckeyes.
Six decades later, the teams met again in a game that nearly matched the hype of the 1935 game.
This time, Eddie George was the cover boy as he ran for over 200 yards and the Buckeyes rallied to win 45-26.
As was the case in the ‘30s, the second leg of the home-and-home series played second fiddle to the first.
This time, Ohio State scored early and held off the Fighting Irish for a 29-16 victory that saw Pepe Pearson run for 173 yards and the first edition of the Silver Bullet defense hold the Fighting Irish to 280 total yards.
When the teams played again in the Fiesta Bowl following the 2005 season, the front page featured articles on Jan. 1 were about the Northmont High School Marching Band playing in the Fiesta Bowl parade and a Tom Archdeacon column about Ohio State’s linebackers, including Centerville’s A.J. Hawk, growing their hair long in tribute to Pat Tillman.
The offense took center stage in the game, though, as Troy Smith led a 34-20 romp that included 617 yards of total offense.
Unfortunately, the game had to share the front page with news of former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett having surrendered to Columbus police after he was accused of robbing two people at gunpoint early on New Year’s Day.
In the most recent matchup, our David Jablonski wrote Ohio State was all business as the Buckeyes prepared to play the Fighting Irish in the Fiesta Bowl again — this time as defending national champions who weren’t going to be able to defend their title but wanted to go out on a high note.
They did just that, finishing a four-year run of 50-4 with a 44-28 victory the Buckeyes controlled most of the way.