EDITOR’S NOTE – This season marks the 10-year anniversary of Ohio State’s 2002 national championship season. We will share stories on all 14 of OSU’s wins that season, including this look at the win over San Jose State. That game was played exactly 10 years ago today on Oct. 12, 2002.
Highlights from OSU's 2002 win over San Jose State
A week after Ohio State turned the ball over three times in a win at Northwestern, the Buckeyes came home and feasted on a collection of San Jose State turnovers to essentially mug the Spartans.
The fifth-ranked Buckeyes broke open a tight 10-7 game by scoring the unanswered points in both the second and third quarters on their way to a 50-7 win in a nonconference game Oct. 12 at Ohio Stadium. (Check out video highlights from this game in the box above.)
"They hit us hard in the first half and made some plays, but our defense just kept coming," said OSU coach Jim Tressel, whose team improved to 7-0. "They were relentless. I think we wore them down a little. But we had a lot of respect for San Jose State. Our players had watched the films and seen how good San Jose State was. But we were able to make some plays and create some turnovers."
The Homecoming game was played before a crowd of 104,892, the largest ever to see a game at Ohio Stadium.
It was another big day for freshman tailback Maurice Clarett, who lost three fumbles in the win at Northwestern. He tied the OSU record for 100-yard games by a freshman, going for 130 yards on 18 carries. He scored two touchdowns rushing and one receiving to take sole command of the school record for freshman scoring with 15 touchdowns on the year.
"It feels real good," Clarett said. "It was good to come back after having a bad week last week. We were able to get some confidence under our belt."
Junior quarterback Craig Krenzel also enjoyed one of his finest days. He was 11 of 14 passing for a career-high 239 yards with three touchdowns. Two of his incompletions were off his receivers' hands, while the third was thrown away incomplete.
"We came out early and had a good rhythm," Krenzel said. "We were able to make some plays in the passing game. We saw they were putting a lot of guys up in the box and we wanted to take advantage of that."
Maurice Clarett rushed for 130 yards, scored 3 TDs in win over San Jose State
Junior split end Michael Jenkins also had a big day. He had seven catches for 132 yards and a score. Drew Carter had four catches for 75 yards. Chris Gamble had two grabs for 52 yards and a score.
OSU outgained San Jose State (4-3) 559 yards to 284. The Spartans netted 0 yards on 13 rushing attempts, the fewest rushing yards ever by an OSU opponent.
SJSU quarterback Scott Rislov was 35 of 43 passing for 282 yards with his team's lone touchdown, a 9-yard pass to Charles Pauley. Rislov set school records for completions and completion percentage.
SJSU had the ball to open the game and drove down to the OSU 30. But OSU's Matt Wilhelm made a tackle for a loss on fourth down. The Buckeyes then drove for the first score, a 1-yard TD run by Clarett.
OSU's Mike Nugent came on and hit a 36-yard field goal. That was the first of three field goals for Nugent, who has now made all 14 of his attempts this year. His 15 consecutive field goals -- including one from last season -- tie him for the OSU record for consecutive field goals made, set by Vlade Janakievski in 1979-80.
The Spartans answered quickly with a six-play, 80-yard scoring strike, aided by an OSU personal foul penalty. Rislov's TD pass to Pauley cut the OSU lead to 10-7 with 9:48 left in the second quarter.
But it was all Ohio State from that point as San Jose State turned the ball over on fumbles on its next four possessions. The Buckeyes turned three of them into touchdowns.
OSU quickly pushed the lead to 17-7 on Krenzel's 38-yard TD pass to Vance with 8:40 left in the half. Krenzel completed passes of 14 yards to Vance and 17 yards to Jenkins, then found Vance in stride down the right sideline for the score to cap a 68-yard, 56-second drive.
Rislov then completed 8 of 10 passes as the Spartans moved from their own 32 to a first down at the Ohio State 10, but linebacker Cie Grant hit Rislov on a blitz and Mike Kudla recovered for the Buckeyes. Clarett's 5-yard TD run with 1:32 left in the half capped an eight-play drive and led to OSU's 24-7 advantage.
Nugent hit a 29-yard field goal, Clarett scored on a 7-yard TD pass (set up by a Pauley fumble at the OSU 11) and Jenkins scored on a 40-yard spiral from Krenzel to push the lead to 41-7.
Lydell Ross, who ended up with 45 yards on 14 carries, added a 2-yard TD run with 13:37 left and Nugent's 28-yard field goal with 9:52 left capped the scoring.
A ton of walk-ons -- including quarterback Jim Otis Jr. and running back Roshawn Parker -- saw action in the closing minutes of the blowout win.
Scott McMullen relieved Krenzel and hit 8 of 9 passes for 114 yards.
OSU returns to Big Ten play next week at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m., ABC). The Badgers fell to 5-2 overall and 0-2 in Big Ten play after allowing Indiana to rally with 15 fourth-quarter points and take a 32-29 win.
"That will be a tough match-up for us on the road in the Big Ten," Tressel said. "But every match-up in the Big Ten is tough."
OSU figures to move up to at least fourth in the national polls after the result of today's game between No. 2 Texas and No. 3 Oklahoma. Top-ranked Miami (Fla.) avoided an upset at the hands of No. 11 Florida State, which missed a late field goal and fell 28-27.
Next Up: The Buckeyes visited Wisconsin on Oct. 19, 2002.
Relive The Memories
You can still purchase our book on the 2003 Ohio State-Miami (Fla.) Fiesta Bowl, "The Greatest Game Ever Played," directly on eBay with a credit card.
You can click here for more details on the book, including sample pages of the cover, table of contents, my introduction and the chapter on the pivotal second overtime.
To order directly online, click this link for eBay.
Or you may send a check or money order for $20 ($17 for the book, $3 for shipping) to:
P.O. Box 34
Pataskala, OH 43062
Allow 2 weeks for shipping.