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Sports Then and Now



College Football Classic Rewind: Spartans Shock Top-Ranked Buckeyes in Columbus 9

Posted on September 28, 2011 by A.J. Foss

During the mid-1990s, the Ohio State Buckeyes had some great teams go through most of the regular season undefeated only to have their arch rival, the Michigan Wolverines, spoil the Buckeyes’ dreams of a national title on three occasions.

But perhaps the Buckeyes’ most heartbreaking loss during this time period came at the hands of that other football team from Michigan.

The 1998 season was the 11th season for John Cooper as the Ohio State head coach as he had complied an 86-32-4 record during his 10 years in Columbus.

Despite his success, Cooper was not embraced by the Buckeye faithful as he had only defeated Michigan once in his first 10 meetings with the Wolverines and was 2-7 in bowl games.

But in 1998, it appeared that the stars were lining up for Cooper and Ohio State to have a magical season.

The Buckeyes began the season as the #1 team ranked in the country because of the 17 returning starters on offense and defense that included quarterback Joe Germaine, wide receiver David Boston, and linebacker Andy Kaztenmoyer.

Through the first two months of the season, Ohio State was dominant as they won their first eight games of the season by a combined score of 306-72.

As the Buckeyes entered the month of November, it appeared that their only obstacle would be arch-rival Michigan on the last game of the season in a game that would be played in Columbus.

So as Ohio State entered their home game with Michigan State on November 7, 1998, it seemed the only question was by how many points would the Buckeyes win over the Spartans.

It appeared that the Spartans were headed for another mediocre season under head coach Nick Saban, who had only gone 19-15-1 in his first three seasons in East Lansing, and were 4-4 at this point of the 1998 season.

The Spartans did have some talent such as sophomore wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who would break the Michigan State season record for receptions, and linebacker Julian Peterson, a junior college transfer from the Valley Forge Military Academy. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Larry “The Zonk” Csonka
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      Larry Csonka

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the leader of a running attack that was the cornerstone of two Super Bowl Championship teams, including the only undefeated squad in NFL history.

      With his distinctive headgear and a body suited for punishing contact, Larry Csonka looked the part of a fullback and for 11 NFL seasons delivered and took regular punishment on his way to the Hall of Fame.

      Following in the great tradition of Jim Brown, Ernie Davis, Jim Nance and Floyd Little, Csonka earned All-American honors at Syracuse while rushing for 2,934 yards.  He began earning a name for himself as the Most Valuable Player of the East–West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl, and the College All-Star Game.

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