Top 30 plays from past 30 years


Jim Naveau with his 30 most memorable plays from covering Ohio State football the past 30 seasons

By Jim Naveau - [email protected]



Does Justin Fields make Jim Naveau’s list of top 30 plays by the Buckeyes over the past 30 years?

Does Justin Fields make Jim Naveau’s list of top 30 plays by the Buckeyes over the past 30 years?


John Swartzel | News Journal File Photo

This is my 30th year of writing about Ohio State football. So, over the course of this season, I have tried to come up with my 30 favorite plays from those years.

In those 30 seasons I have been in the stadium for 359 OSU games, so there were a lot of plays to consider.

The availability of videos on the internet of games from the last three decades helped a lot. Those videos showed me some of my favorite plays were just as I remembered them, some were different and also reminded me of plays I’d forgotten about which deserved to be on my list.

The 30 plays on the list changed and were rearranged several times. But the four contenders for my most memorable play, my final four, didn’t change.

They were the late Terry Glenn’s 82-yard touchdown catch against Notre Dame in 1995, Ezekiel Elliott’s 85-yard touchdown run against Alabama in a College Football Playoff semifinal in 2014, Chris Gamble’s interception for a touchdown against Penn State in 2002 and the game-winning touchdown connection between Craig Krenzel and Michael Jenkins at Purdue in 2002, a play which Brent Musberger called Holy Buckeye.

My favorite in that group? The Glenn touchdown against Notre Dame in the first game between OSU and the Fighting Irish in 59 years.

It was the most electrifying play I’ve seen. On the network telecast, Keith Jackson called it “a bolt of lightning.”

If you want to know why I like it so much, it’s on YouTube and worth the watch, even if you do have sit through a sideline interview with Regis Philbin before you get to see the pass.

The guy who threw the ball to Glenn thinks it was pretty special, too.

“That’s probably one of the plays and one of the games I get asked about most,” former OSU quarterback Bob Hoying said recently.

“It was a beautiful day, one of those perfect fall football days. It was a pretty simple play. It was a 12-yard hook and our running back to that side of the field was running a wide route. You just read the flat defender and if he goes and covers the wide route you throw it to Terry on time.

“That probably was one of the keys was that I threw it on time so that when Terry caught it he made one move and, I think the corners both slipped a little bit. Terry was just so fast. It was all over with and you could tell it was after the first one or two steps Terry took after he caught it.

“It was awesome. It was about as loud as I ever remember the stadium being. It was a fairly short throw but I had the time, maybe 6 or 7 seconds, to kind of enjoy the moment. I remember seeing it and kind of looking and seeing how the whole stadium reacted to it. It was just incredible,” Hoying said.

“He was so fast and so quick. That was maybe one of his first times on a national stage that season and was kind of his coming out party.”

Here is my list:

1. Terry Glenn’s 82-yard touchdown catch against Notre Dame in a 45-26 OSU win in 1995.

2. Ezekiel Elliott’s 85-yard touchdown run against Alabama in a College Football Playoff semifinal in 2014.

3. Chris Gamble’s interception return for a touchdown against Penn State in 2002 in a 13-7 win. It was Ohio State’s only touchdown. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard Ohio Stadium louder.

4. Holy Buckeye in 2002. Craig Krenzel’s fourth-down pass to Michael Jenkins beat Purdue 10-6 and kept Ohio State’s national championship hopes intact.

5. Jonathan Wells’ 46-yard touchdown run on 4th and 1 against Michigan in 2001. This play changed Ohio State’s mindset against Michigan and started its incredible run of 17 wins in 19 years against its rival.

6. Justin Fields’ 51-yard touchdown run on his first carry at Ohio State in 2019 against Florida Atlantic. Everyone wondered how good the 5-star transfer quarterback from Georgia was. He let them know right away.

7. Evan Spencer’s pass to Michael Thomas against Alabama. Possibly the biggest trick play in the last 30 years or longer at Ohio State.

8. Ted Ginn Jr.’s 82-yard punt return for a touchdown against Michigan in 2004.

9. Orlando Pace’s downfield block running ahead of Pepe Pearson against Notre Dame in 1996. It wasn’t the only time Pace ran step for step with his running backs.

10. Cardale Jones’ first touchdown pass to Devin Smith against Wisconsin in the 2014 Big Ten championship game. People forget how big a question mark Jones was going into that game.

11. Anthony Gonzalez’s fourth-quarter catch against Michigan in 2005 that set up the game-winning touchdown.

12. Joey Bosa sacks Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg by pushing running back Akeel Lynch into him on the final play of a 31-24 double-overtime win in 2014.

13. Devin Smith’s one-handed catch for a touchdown against Miami (Ohio) in 2012. He used every bit of his 7-foot high jumping ability to go up and get the ball.

14. Curtis Samuel’s game-winning touchdown in overtime against Michigan in 2016.

15. Noah Brown’s touchdown catch against Oklahoma in 2016 with his arms wrapped around a Sooners defensive back.

16. Andy Katzenmoyer’s massive hit on Missouri quarterback Corby Jones in 1997.

17. Maurice Clarett forces a fumble by stripping Sean Taylor after the Miami defensive back had intercepted a pass in the 2002 national championship game at the Fiesta Bowl.

18. Matt Wilhelm deflects Gino Guidugli’s pass on fourth down to avoid an upset at Cincinnati in 2002.

19. Braxton Miller’s step back and dive touchdown against Penn State in 2012.

20. Will Allen’s interception on the final play of the 2002 Michigan game which sent OSU to the national championship game.

21. Ryan Shazier launches himself over the defensive line to force a fumble at the 1-yard line by Wisconsin’s Montee Ball in 2012.

22. Cie Grant blitzes Ken Dorsey on the final play of the national championship game against Miami in 2002.

23. Tyvis Powell intercepts a two-point conversion pass at the goal line in the final minute of Ohio State’s 42-41 win against Michigan in 2013.

24. Kenny Guiton to the rescue in 2012 against Purdue. Subbing for the injured Braxton Miller, Guiton throws a touchdown pass and a two-point conversion on a drive that began with 47 seconds to play to send the game to overtime, where Ohio State wins it.

25. Eddie George’s 76-yard run against Michigan State in 1994 which indicated to me he had NFL-level speed.

26. Justin Fields’ touchdown pass to Chris Olave against Clemson after a quick trip to the medical tent in a College Football semifinal last year.

27. Braxton Miller’s spin move during a 53-yard touchdown run against Virginia Tech in 2015.

28. Binjimen Victor eludes nearly half of Penn State’s defense on a 47-yard touchdown catch and run against Penn State in 2018 to start an Ohio State fourth-quarter comeback.

29. Braxton Miller’s 40-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith to beat Wisconsin 33-29 in 2011 after Russell Wilson had led the Badgers to what looked like it would be the game-winning touchdown.

30. Joe Germaine’s touchdown pass to David Boston with 19 seconds to play to give Ohio State a 20-17 win over Arizona State in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1, 1997.

Does Justin Fields make Jim Naveau’s list of top 30 plays by the Buckeyes over the past 30 years?
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/01/web1_OSU_Fields4Naveau.jpgDoes Justin Fields make Jim Naveau’s list of top 30 plays by the Buckeyes over the past 30 years? John Swartzel | News Journal File Photo
Jim Naveau with his 30 most memorable plays from covering Ohio State football the past 30 seasons

By Jim Naveau

[email protected]