COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The players that took the field in Pasadena the last time Ohio State played in the Rose Bowl say Jan. 1, 2010 holds a special place in their hearts.
“Just the Rose Bowl in general, being out there, being able to experience going out there, going to Lowery’s Steakhouse, going to Disneyland…it’s something you never get to experience as a player,” former Ohio State fullback and linebacker Zach Boren.
Since 1920, Ohio State has played in the Rose Bowl 14 times in program history. Nine of their appearances in Pasadena happened between 1950 and 1976 and eight of those Rose Bowl games were coached by Woody Hayes. Ohio State has not been to the Rose Bowl since 2010 when they entered as the underdog to the Oregon Ducks under former head coach Jim Tressel.
“We lost two national championships, we lost a close Fiesta Bowl that we should have won, and we wanted to go out with a win,” Boren said. “Close group of seniors, I loved all those guys, and I think we, just every day in practice, we did play like we had a chip on our shoulders.”
The Ducks were known for their high-powered offense and the Buckeyes had not won a bowl game in three seasons.
“At the time, we hall had that stigma like, ‘Ohio State cannot win the Big Game,’” said former Ohio State team captain Bryant Browning. “’They can’t win the big game, they cannot win a big game, but they can beat the Big Ten, they can beat Michigan, they can beat those guys, but the big game, Ohio State cannot do it.’”
Despite the odds and surrounded by a sea of scarlet and gray, Ohio State scored first. Then in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes up 19 to 17 on third and 13, Jake Ballard leaped above several Oregon players to make a 24-yard catch to get a crucial first down. The drive ended with the game-clinching touchdown from Terrelle Pryer to Devier Posey. Buckey fans remember Ballard’s catch as one of the greatest in Ohio State history.
“That catch is what everyone remembers me for,” Ballard said. “IT’s funny how many people come up to me and say, ‘You know, I’ll never forget that catch in the Rose Bowl,’ or ‘I have your picture hanging in my Buckeye room,’ ‘top three plays in your Ohio State career.’ It’s really special to me to be thought of like that.”
The Buckeyes cherish their Rose Bowl jerseys, helmet and ring, but they all say there was nothing more special than their celebration on the field.
“Celebrating with my teammates, the energy around playing in that game was so big,” Chimdi Chekwa, a former Buckeye cornerback, said.