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2002 Rewind: National Champions!

EDITOR’S NOTE – This past season marked the 10-year anniversary of Ohio State’s 2002 national championship season. We have shared stories on all 14 of OSU’s wins that season, including this look at the 2003 Fiesta Bowl win over Miami (Fla.) for the national championship. That game – perhaps the biggest or the best in the 123-year history of the program -- was played exactly 10 years ago today on Jan. 3, 2003.

Ohio State Vs. Miami The Movie

Today, we are sharing several stories from that historic game. Plus, we have links to past installments in this 2002 national championship series.

Buckeyes Are National Champions

After 34 years of near misses and close calls, the wait is finally over for Ohio State and its legion of fans.

The Buckeyes defied the odds by pulling off a 31-24 double-overtime upset of top-ranked Miami (Fla.) to claim the national championship Jan. 3 at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.

The victory, cheered on by as many as 50,000 OSU fans who made the cross-country journey to see the Buckeyes in person, gave Ohio State its fifth consensus national championship and seventh overall.

In typical OSU style, it came in heart-stopping fashion. Miami rallied to force the game into overtime with a final-play field goal then surged ahead 24-17 in the first overtime.

OSU converted a pair of tricky fourth downs -- including one on a controversial pass interference penalty -- before tying the game. Then, in the second OT, OSU's Maurice Clarett powered in on a 5-yard run before the defense stopped Miami on downs inside the OSU 2.

The final play saw OSU linebacker Cie Grant pressure Miami's Ken Dorsey, a Heisman Trophy finalist, into an incompletion.

Kenny Peterson pressures Ken Dorsey

Miami's string of 34 straight wins was history, while OSU's wait of 34 years -- dating to the 1968 national championship season -- was also complete.

"I tell you what, we are so proud of these young men," said OSU coach Jim Tressel, who won a national championship in his second year on the job. "We have always had the best damn band in the land. Now we've got the best damn team in the land."

Tressel's Buckeyes (14-0), ranked second nationally coming into the game, were the only Division I-A team to finish the year undefeated.

"Anytime you stand alone at the top of the mountain with the people you love, it is a great feeling," said Tressel, who previously won four Division I-AA national championships at Youngstown State.

Ohio State had been a player on the national scene under John Cooper throughout much of the 1990s, finishing second in the AP poll in both 1996 and '98.

But OSU's rise to championship status this season seemed unlikely just five months ago. The Buckeyes, coming off a disappointing 7-5 campaign, were ranked just 13th in the initial Associated Press poll.

The team's 13 seniors had seen upheaval in the program, missing a bowl game after a 6-6 season in 1999 and seeing Cooper fired after an 8-4 year in 2000.

Since the inception of the AP poll in 1936, OSU had never failed to make the final poll in more than three straight years. But OSU was looking at just such a string headed into this season.

Dustin Fox picks off Dorsey

"It was important for us to get the respect back in our program," said Clarett, who ended a dynamic freshman year with 1,237 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns. "After this, people will look at us and take us more seriously."

Tressel noted how everything came into proper alignment for the Buckeyes this season.

"We are so proud of those 13 seniors and of those coaches," Tressel said. "The leadership that both of these groups gave, credit them. Throw in the fact that the younger players believed, throw in the fact that our crowd was electric and energized us."

OSU became the first Big Ten team to play in the designated championship game in the brief five-year history of the Bowl Championship Series. The Buckeyes emerged from this dramatic win with the conference's first unanimous national championship since 1968. (Michigan split the 1997 national title with Nebraska.)

"This is such a great feeling," said OSU tight end Ben Hartsock. "I think it's important to understand what this means to our whole state. Every away game we go to, there are people waiting to meet us at the airport.

"It is a worldwide thing. It is neat to see the way Ohio State reaches out to people. It's amazing."

OSU safety and co-captain Mike Doss set the tone for this title run when he decided last January to stick around for his senior year. He could have joined teammates Derek Ross and Darnell Sanders in leaving school early for the NFL. But he was rewarded for his decision by earning All-American honors for the third time as well as a national championship ring.

"I believed in our team," said Doss, who set up OSU's first touchdown with an interception. "Twelve months ago on Jan. 9, my mom's birthday, I made the decision to come back. I had one goal in mind and that was to win a national championship.

Mike Doss also picks off Dorsey

"I have won a championship on every level since I was 8 years old. I was able to come back and we got it done."

The Buckeyes also were aided by an unprecedented showing of support. It was estimated that as many as 80 percent of the 77,502 in attendance at Sun Devil Stadium were rooting for OSU. Many of those fans had paid $500 and up for their tickets to the title game.

"This was like the Ohio State branch campus today," Hartsock said. "This was the 'Shoe for the day. It seemed like there was a 1,000-to-1 ratio of Ohio State fans. That really was a spark for us, offensively and defensively."

A Fitting Conclusion

Between the Bowl Alliance (1995-97) and the first four years of the BCS, only one of the designated title games was decided by a touchdown or less, as Tennessee edged Florida State 23-16 in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl.

But after the Buckeyes rallied to defeat Miami, many college football pundits were calling the game -- which lasted a robust three hours and 56 minutes -- perhaps the greatest title game ever.

"Miami is a great football team and that's what the national championship game should go like -- double overtime," Tressel said.

Miami (12-1) was bidding to become the game's first repeat national champion since Nebraska in 1994-95. The Hurricanes were installed as a 13-point favorite.

Chris Gamble makes a big catch

But if the Buckeyes were supposed to roll over and become Miami's 35th straight victim, they never got that memo.

"I never thought of us as underdogs," Clarett said. "We all believed in ourselves."

The championship game was the kind of back-and-forth affair Ohio State thrived upon during the regular season.

"It was tough, but that's why you play this game," said OSU offensive tackle Shane Olivea. "To come out here and have this opportunity, it was unbelievable. Hey, no one gave us a chance. Not one person gave us a chance and that's why you play the game."

Miami opened the scoring with a first-quarter touchdown drive. OSU then grabbed a 14-7 halftime lead after capitalizing on a pair of UM turnovers.

OSU led for the entire second half until a 50-yard punt return by Roscoe Parrish set up Todd Sievers' 40-yard field goal on the final play of regulation, which tied the game at 17 and forced overtime.

Miami opened the first overtime with a touchdown to go up 24-17. OSU converted a sticky fourth-and-14 predicament with a 17-yard pass from Craig Krenzel to Michael Jenkins.

Moments later, OSU faced fourth-and-3 at the Miami 5. Krenzel threw incomplete in the end zone to Chris Gamble, but UM cornerback Glenn Sharpe was flagged for pass interference. Miami had already begun its victory celebration when the field judge made his call, throwing the flag 3-1/2 seconds after the play ended.

Maurice Clarett tracks down Sean Taylor, forces fumble

Given new life, OSU knotted the score at 24 on a 1-yard Krenzel quarterback sneak.

"We didn't panic," said OSU safety and co-captain Donnie Nickey. "We didn't do that all season, either. We had it in our minds to never surrender and not to give up all season."

OSU went first in the second overtime and scored in a methodical five plays. Clarett's 5-yard TD run put the Buckeyes up and set the tone for the defense, which allowed Miami to get all the way down to the OSU 1 before stopping the 'Canes cold.

When Dorsey's final pass fell harmlessly to the ground, a raucous OSU celebration ensued on the field. After accepting the various championship trophies, Tressel convened his team for its usual postgame ritual -- a rendition of "Carmen Ohio" with the OSU marching band.

"It feels real good," said Gamble, OSU's two-way star and a native of the Miami suburb of Sunrise. "Ever since I went back home for the holidays everyone was like, 'Oh, you all are going to lose to Miami.'

"I just want to let everybody back home know I did it and the team did it."

For Doss and several of the seniors, beating Miami was a fitting way to go out: They opened their careers with a 23-12 loss to the 'Canes in the 1999 Kickoff Classic.

"All the teams I've played against in my career, I've ended up either .500 or with a winning record against them," Doss said. "Miami was the last one I needed. They had a 34-game winning streak, but we knew if we snapped that we would be national champions."

Will Allen recovered a Miami fumble

A Season To Remember

Ohio State led the nation with seven games decided by a touchdown or less, including the title game victory.

Over the course of the year, these Buckeyes were in and out of tough spots more than Harry Houdini.

But where other teams would have fractured or folded, this OSU team typically pulled together.

"These guys were so willing to grow together and learn to care about each other," Tressel said. "They have been through transition and a lot of adversity.

"They each have a role, not one more important than the other."

Hartsock added, "Just about every game has been tight for us. We haven't won pretty, but we've won."

While few outside the program believed a national championship was in the cards, the players themselves began to believe.

Roscoe Parrish with big punt return for Miami

"Everyone deserves credit," said defensive end Simon Fraser, who sacked Dorsey late in regulation. "Everyone believed we could get it done. Right out of camp, we had the mind-set and the attitude to go the whole way.

"We grew together as a team. The camaraderie on this team is unbelievable. This is something that books are written about."

OSU survived close calls at Cincinnati and Wisconsin early in the season. The 23-19 win at UC was predicated by a late defensive stand in the red zone, capped by a Will Allen interception in the end zone.

The Buckeyes then rallied for wins over Penn State and at Purdue and Illinois. OSU went to overtime for the first time in school history to secure the 23-16 win over the Illini.

"We'd been in overtime before," noted OSU defensive tackle David Thompson. "Miami hadn't been in overtime before. I knew we had to just keep fighting and keep playing. Our team stuck together. That's the thing about Ohio State football this year. We play to the last minute. We stick together."

The 14-9 season-ending victory over Michigan -- also capped by a late interception by Allen near the goal line -- gave the Buckeyes a school-record 13 wins and secured their spot in the national title game.

"After the Michigan game, we had written a chapter in history," Hartsock said. "I think we would have been remembered even if we had lost the national championship game.

"But we hung in and got the win here. I think we'll be one of the teams that people will always talk about. It is a new era of greatness at Ohio State. To be part of that is overwhelming."

Michael Jenkins got his feet down inbounds for a key catch in the first OT

No team in the previous 112 years of Ohio State football had ever won more than 11 games. So, yes, it seems this 14-game winner will be revered for quite a while.

"I think we all had that in the back of our minds going into the game that we'd be part of Ohio State history for a very long time," said OSU linebacker Matt Wilhelm. "We were out to get some respect and out to make history."

Can They Repeat?

One of the obvious questions in the afterglow of the Miami victory was whether the Buckeyes could repeat in 2003.

At least on paper, each of the nation's final top five -- OSU, Miami, Georgia, USC and Oklahoma -- will go into the off-season with serious designs on winning the national title at next year's Sugar Bowl.

"We want to start a winning streak like Miami did," Gamble confirmed. "We want to be back here in the championship game again next year."

Tressel said those questions are inevitable, although he wanted his team to savor this win for a short while before getting back to work.

"These guys are going to enjoy this, celebrate with class and they'll be very proud of their accomplishments," Tressel said. "Those younger guys go back to school on (Jan. 6) and I don't think we'll throw them into the weight room right away but a lot of this is about what comes next. We'll go to work pretty soon."

Was it pass interference when Glenn Sharpe blanketed Chris Gamble? Well, Terry Porter thought it was ... and that's all that mattered

Now that the underclassmen have a taste of a championship, it may be hard to accept anything less.

"I think the only way to top this is to do it two more times," said OSU kicker Mike Nugent. "I've got two years left, so hopefully we can keep doing it."

Krenzel: Player Of The Game

The list of Fiesta Bowl Offensive MVP award winners is long and distinguished.

It includes quarterbacks such as Notre Dame's Tony Rice, Nebraska's Tommie Frazier and Eric Crouch, and Oregon's Joey Harrington.

Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel added his name to that illustrious list with his play as the Buckeyes knocked off Miami 31-24 in double overtime to win the national championship at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.

It should be noted that Krenzel did not win the award on the basis of his passing skills. After all, he completed just 7 of 21 passes for 122 yards with two interceptions.

Yet he was most definitely Ohio State's leading offensive player in the victory after rushing 19 times for a career-high 81 yards and two touchdowns. Only one of those rushing attempts ended as a quarterback sack.

Clarett's final carry at OSU was the game-winning TD in the second OT

"All I know is that Craig Krenzel does for us what we need done," said OSU coach Jim Tressel. "He made plays when we needed and he's tough. The number one characteristic a quarterback has to have, especially a quarterback at Ohio State, is they'd better be tough. Craig Krenzel is tough and he played a tough game tonight.

"We have had a lot of great quarterbacks here at Ohio State who just know how to win. Craig Krenzel knows how to win."

Krenzel capped a perfect junior season with a 14th straight victory. Including two starts at the end of the 2001 season, his lifetime mark as a starter is now 15-1.

But Miami, with its athletic defensive unit, was supposed to be the ultimate test.

In scouting the Hurricanes, though, the OSU coaching staff found Miami's seven-man defensive front was vulnerable to quarterback draws.

Pittsburgh's Rod Rutherford and Virginia Tech's Bryan Randall each rolled up nice yardage against Miami in the season's final weeks.

"We came into the game with some designed quarterback runs," Krenzel said. "We knew coming into the game we were confident in our abilities. We felt like we matched up with them well."

The Buckeyes wasted no time in unveiling the draw and it worked to the tune of 31 yards on three first-half attempts.

Cie Grant pressured Ken Dorsey on the last play

"I think they wanted to make sure they left two men on Michael Jenkins," Tressel said. "We felt that was something we could take advantage of by letting Craig run. He executed it well."

Offensive tackle Shane Olivea added, "We had planned to start using Craig more running the ball and he just happened to come through."

Krenzel got OSU on the scoreboard with his second effort on a fourth-down quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line. The play tied the score at 7 with 2:28 left in the first half.

In the first overtime, OSU was in a bind: After suffering his first sack of the game, Krenzel and the Buckeyes faced fourth-and-14 at the Miami 29. Miami already had scored to go up 24-17, so the season was on the line.

Just as they had done to pull out the Purdue game, Krenzel played pitch-and-catch with Jenkins, who hauled in an out pass and got his feet inbounds at the Miami 12 to pick up the first down.

On the subsequent series, Krenzel kept the ball for a 7-yard gain down to the Miami 5. Miami linebacker Jonathan Vilma delivered a crushing hit, peeling Krenzel backward. It was a play some guys would not have gotten up from.

"We sure didn't expect him to run that much or that well," Vilma told reporters later.

Two plays later, OSU faced fourth-and-3 at the Miami 5. During a timeout, Krenzel suggested an out pass to Chris Gamble.

Mike Doss hosts the trophy after the win

He threw the pass and it fell incomplete. But Miami's Glenn Sharpe was flagged for pass interference, giving OSU new life with a first down at the 2.

Three plays later, Krenzel followed left guard Adrien Clarke into the end zone on a 1-yard sneak to tie the score at 24 and force the second overtime.

Krenzel's last running play of the night -- a 5-yard sneak blast behind center Alex Stepanovich -- gave the Buckeyes a first down at the Miami 11. He then found Jenkins for a 6-yard gain, setting up Maurice Clarett's 5-yard go-ahead touchdown in the second overtime.

After all the dust had settled -- and the OSU defense had succeeded in stopping the 'Canes on downs at the OSU 1-yard line to end the game -- Krenzel's teammates hailed their quarterback for his grace under extreme fire.

"He did a good job," Clarett said. "He was the MVP and he deserved it in every right."

Tight end Ben Hartsock added, "He has never been dubbed a super athlete. He is a smart quarterback, however, and tonight was a credit to his decision making."

Even Krenzel's defensive teammates recognize his importance.

"Craig, to me, is the toughest guy on the team," said defensive end Kenny Peterson. "Some of those hits he took were pretty bad. He is the smartest guy on the team, too. He made some great decisions tonight.

Craig Krenzel is greeted by OSU's last national championship QB Rex Kern after the win

"Craig is a leader. He's a born leader."

Tressel sees many of the same qualities. In a year when the coach opted to use rotating game captains on offense, Krenzel got the nod on four different occasions. They were, arguably, the team's four biggest games -- the season opener with Texas Tech, Penn State, Michigan and the Fiesta Bowl against Miami.

He would have to be considered a shoe-in to return as the starter at quarterback next fall and to be one of the team's full-time captains as well.

For the record, Krenzel ended his 14-game junior campaign by throwing for 2,110 yards and 12 touchdowns against seven interceptions. He also was fourth on the team in rushing with 368 yards.

After the Fiesta Bowl, Krenzel was basking in the glow of helping OSU end a 34-year national championship drought.

"The people in my family are the greatest people in the world," he said. "I want to be with them tonight and tomorrow."

Then he added, "And I also want to enjoy the weather here and get a round of golf in before I go home."

Play Of The Game: Pass Interference

Jim Tressel and his seniors hoist the trophy

Excluding extra points, there were nine different scoring plays in Ohio State's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl double-overtime win over Miami (Fla.).

But none of them registered as the play of the game.

Rather, the most talked about play of the game simply helped prolong the contest in the first overtime.

OSU trailed Miami 24-17 and, for the second time in the first OT, faced sudden death with a fourth-down predicament. Quarterback Craig Krenzel had converted the first one with a 17-yard pass to Michael Jenkins just moments earlier.

But the game was on the line again as OSU faced fourth-and-3 at the Miami 5. The 'Canes spent their only timeout to set up their defense, while Krenzel suggested the play to OSU coach Jim Tressel.

"We knew that they were going to be looking for the fade, so we went for a fade stop," said OSU tight end Ben Hartsock.

Krenzel rolled to his right and threw to flanker Chris Gamble, who broke off his route near the goal line and the right sideline.

Replays were inconclusive as to when Miami cornerback Glenn Sharpe initiated contact with Gamble, but he made strong contact and broke up the pass. Replays did show Sharpe wrapping a hand around Gamble's waist before knocking the ball down.

Line judge Derick Bowers from the Big 12 crew signaled incomplete pass from his spot on the goal line. Field judge Terry Porter did likewise from the corner of the end zone. But Porter then also sent his penalty flag flying toward the area of the play.

"I was a little sad because I thought he interfered and I didn't see a flag," Gamble said. "I thought we had lost. Then I looked around and saw the flag and was happy again.

"He was holding me the whole time. I think the official was trying to get the flag out and he finally got it. (Sharpe) was into my face mask and my shoulder pads. I still tried to make the catch."

ESPN replays determined Porter's flag flew into the screen 3-1/2 seconds after the play ended. In the meantime, Fiesta Bowl organizers had sent up fireworks to celebrate Miami's supposed win. Miami players stormed the field as well.

Porter said he was deliberate with the call because he wanted to get it right.

"I saw the guy (Sharpe) holding the guy (Gamble) prior to the ball being put in the air," Porter said. "He was still holding him, pulling him down while the ball was in the air. I gave the signal for holding. Then I realized it should be pass interference because the ball was in the air.

"I replayed it in my mind. I wanted to make double sure it was the right call."

Krenzel had an obstructed view of the play, but joined Gamble in looking for a flag.

"As I threw that, I got hit," Krenzel said. "I saw a lot of contact. While I was laying on the ground, I saw it fell incomplete. Their team rushed the field and I was feeling dejected about how much effort we had put into it.

"I didn't see the flag until after I got up. I thought it was the right call and fortunately we took advantage of it."

Hartsock had a view of the play as well.

"When you've got an athlete like Chris Gamble, it's hard to stop somebody like that and they ended up interfering," he said. "It just shows that you shouldn't put yourself in a position for a judgment call to determine the outcome of the game."

Tressel also was adamant that his receiver had been fouled.

"I thought there was interference but I didn't see a flag, so for a moment I thought it was a bad way to end a game," the coach said. "I thought Craig put it on the money and did think Chris got interfered with. We don't complain about things that don't go our way, but it was good to see that guy come from the back of the end zone and make what I thought was a good call."

The Miami sideline seemed to disagree with Porter's call.

"I did not have a chance to see the call," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "I don't know. I know the call was made. That's what we have to deal with. We have to adjust and go on to the next play.

"Obviously on fourth-and-long, it was a huge, huge play in the game. You hate for an official to have to make that call. You would like it to be a legitimate call."

The penalty gave the Buckeyes a first down at the Miami 2. Play was delayed while officials cleared the field. Plus, Miami safety Sean Taylor had to leave the game after breaking his helmet during the abbreviated celebration.

"Officials make the calls," Taylor said. "That wasn't a turning point. We should have never been in that position."

Once play resumed, five Miami defenders teamed to shove OSU's Maurice Clarett out of bounds at the 1 on first down. Clarett got no gain on second down before Krenzel churned in from the 1 on third down to tie the game at 24 and force the second overtime, when OSU ultimately won.

"That's how you win championships, to keep playing and to make plays," Tressel said. "Our guys keep playing and we were fortunate to make plays. Miami has nothing to hang its head about because that's a great football team."

OSU vs. Miami: Instant (and All-Time) Classic

If ever there was such a thing as an "Instant Classic," this was it.

Ohio State's stunning 31-24 double-overtime victory over top-ranked Miami in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl -- regarded by the Bowl Championship Series as the national championship game -- left college football historians wondering if there had ever been a game that meant so much that was so good.

"That's what the national championship game should look like," OSU coach Jim Tressel remarked after his second-ranked Buckeyes pulled off the upset before 77,502 at Sun Devil Stadium Jan. 3 in Tempe, Ariz.

Ohio State (14-0) claimed its first consensus national championship since 1968 and its fifth overall. It denied Miami (12-1) a second consecutive national title and its sixth crown in 20 years.

The victory also snapped Miami's 34-game winning streak, dating to early in the 2000 season. The streak stood as the sixth longest in Division I-A history.

"I want to congratulate Coach Tressel and his staff for an excellent effort," said Miami coach Larry Coker, a former OSU assistant who suffered his first defeat in 25 games as UM’s head coach. "They're a great football team and well-coached. I'm really proud of our football team, the way we fought back and gave our team a chance to win. But it just wasn't meant to be tonight."

For the seventh time this season, the resilient Buckeyes needed late-game heroics to pull out the win. This time, Miami rallied from a 17-7 deficit to tie the game at 17 on Todd Sievers' 40-yard field goal on the final play of regulation.

After the Hurricanes grabbed a 24-17 lead in the first overtime, OSU was twice down to its final play before getting fourth-down conversions. One of those was on a controversial pass interference penalty.

OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel tied the game at 24 with a 1-yard touchdown run.

Then the Buckeyes moved ahead for good in the second extra period on a 5-yard touchdown run by Maurice Clarett. The 'Canes drove all the way down to the OSU 1-yard line but lost the ball on downs after an incomplete pass by Heisman Trophy finalist Ken Dorsey ended the game.

"We knew our kids would play all day long and never stop," Tressel said after the three-hour, 56-minute affair had reached its thrilling conclusion.

Krenzel was named the game's Offensive MVP award winner. He completed just 7 of 21 passes for 122 yards and two interceptions.

But he dinged Miami for a game- and career-high 81 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 19 carries.

"Our guys gave an outstanding effort on every play," Krenzel said. "Sometimes when things aren't working you go on to others. Tonight, we made those plays when we had to."

Clarett finished with 47 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries for the Buckeyes.

"That was a good game, the most intense game I've been a part of," he said.

Clarett was responsible for one of Miami's five turnovers after stripping Miami defensive back Sean Taylor, who had intercepted a Krenzel pass. The play set up a third-quarter OSU field goal.

The OSU defense came up big with four more turnovers. Dorsey was 28 of 43 passing for 296 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also lost a fumble, which led to an OSU touchdown and a 14-7 halftime lead.

"Ohio State is a great team," Dorsey said. "They deserve a lot of credit. We made a few mistakes and that's what cost us the game. If we hadn't turned the ball over, we would have been in great shape."

Dorsey and fellow Miami Heisman finalist Willis McGahee, a 1,686-yard rusher during the regular season, each paid a heavy price against the Buckeyes.

Dorsey, 38-1 as Miami's starting quarterback prior to this loss, left the game briefly after a hit in overtime. He accepted the Fiesta Bowl's Sportsmanship Award before heading to a nearby hospital for treatment for dehydration and a possible concussion.
But that was tame in comparison to McGahee's fate. The third-year sophomore was likely headed into the 2003 NFL draft as a first-round pick. But that all changed when he suffered torn knee ligaments on a fourth-quarter tackle by OSU's Will Allen with 11:39 left.

McGahee finished with 67 yards rushing and a touchdown on 20 carries. His replacement, Jarrett Payton, managed just 17 yards on eight carries over the remainder of the game.

"(The Ohio State defense) didn't surprise us that much, but they're very good at what they did," said Coker, whose team was held to 369 yards total offense after averaging 475.4 in the regular season.

"It sort of caused us some problems. Losing McGahee hurt us. We didn't have enough offense to finish it off."

As It Happened

Miami gained an early field-position advantage by downing a punt at the OSU 1-yard line midway through the first quarter.

The 'Canes got the ball back after an OSU punt on their own 48-yard line and needed just five plays to open the scoring.

Dorsey exploited OSU's zone with a 28-yard pass to tight end Kellen Winslow Jr., who ended up with 11 catches for 122 yards.

Three plays later, Roscoe Parrish lined up as the middle receiver in a trips right formation. He ran a slant route in front of OSU's Mike Doss and hauled in a 25-yard touchdown pass from Dorsey, carrying Doss with him for the last 5 yards. The play helped Miami grab a 7-0 lead with 4:09 left in the first quarter.

Things looked bleak for OSU moments later as Krenzel tried to throw a deep pass to Chris Vance. Miami's Taylor tipped the pass to himself and intercepted it.

The OSU defense quelled the threat and, one Miami possession later, struck for an interception of its own as corner Dustin Fox hauled in a Dorsey overthrow.

"Dorsey is a great player," Fox said. "But sometimes when you can get pressure on him, he'll just chuck it up there. When he does that, you have to make plays on the ball."

OSU used Krenzel runs of 9 and 11 yards to move down to the Miami 17-yard line. On fourth-and-1, the Buckeyes lined up to try a 35-yard field goal. Holder Andy Groom tried to run for the first down on a fake but was stopped short, and OSU lost possession with 7:58 left in the first half.

Once again, the OSU defense came up big. Dorsey threw to go-to man Andre Johnson in the left flat but saw the pass go through his hands and right to Doss, who returned it 35 yards to the Miami 17 with 5:36 left in the half.

"Dustin Fox was fortunate to get one and then I got a blessing with a tipped pass," Doss said. "Our defensive line played well and got some pressure on Dorsey and he put the ball up where we could get it."

OSU needed seven plays to find the end zone. Krenzel converted a first down with an 8-yard pass to Chris Vance down to the Miami 4.

Once again, Tressel rolled the dice and went for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal inside the 1. Krenzel went behind right guard Bryce Bishop and, on a second effort, got the touchdown to tie the game at 7 with 2:28 left in the half.

After Mike Nugent backed the 'Canes up to their own 20 with a touchback on the kickoff, the 'Canes coughed up the ball again. On first down, Dorsey dropped to pass. OSU's Kenny Peterson brought pressure and punched the ball out to teammate Darrion Scott, who recovered it at the Miami 14 with 2:15 left.

"We knew coming into the game we had to get pressure on Dorsey," Peterson said. "I was fortunate to come through. I give all the credit to my guys in the backfield for giving me time to get back there."

OSU's Lydell Ross got 2 yards on first down before a Miami offsides penalty moved the ball down to the 7. On second down, Clarett took the ball up the middle, juked a defender and took Miami linebacker D.J. Williams into the end zone with him on a 7-yard TD run that put the Buckeyes up 14-7 with 1:10 left in the half.

Miami tried to mount a last-second drive to end the half but got only as far as its own 32-yard line. The OSU-partisan crowd sent its team into the locker room at the intermission with a standing ovation.

The OSU defense stopped Miami on its first possession of the third quarter before the offense moved into scoring position at the Miami 6 after Krenzel found Chris Gamble for a 57-yard bomb down the left sideline.

But on first down, Krenzel tried to force a pass into tight end Ben Hartsock. Miami's Taylor intercepted and started the other way only to have Clarett track him down and take the ball away at the Miami 28.

"(Running backs coach Tim) Spencer always talks about trying to strip the ball away when that happens," Clarett said. "Coach Spence came through with that tonight.

"I saw him running with the ball and I didn't want him to score a touchdown. I did my best to try and catch him."

That play set up Nugent's 44-yard field goal, which pushed the OSU lead to 17-7 with 8:33 left in the third quarter.

Late in the third quarter, Miami put together a seven-play, 55-yard scoring march. Dorsey found Winslow for gains of 23, 5 and 7 yards on the possession, setting up McGahee's 9-yard TD run, which cut the OSU lead to 17-14 with 2:11 left in the third quarter.

The Buckeyes clung to the lead, withstanding a missed 54-yard field goal by Sievers with 11:26 left in the game.

Nugent then misfired on a 42-yard field goal of his own with 6:36 left.

The 'Canes threatened as Dorsey found Parrish for a 29-yard gain down to the OSU 23. But OSU's Fox succeeded in knocking the ball away after the catch and Allen recovered it at the OSU 18 with 5:08 left.

"I was just trying to tackle him and the ball was there," Fox said. "I just got it out. It was like a perfect tackle, and Will was there to pick it up."

OSU managed one first down but was forced to punt. It appeared that Gamble may have converted a second first down with a reception, but he was ruled out of bounds.

Miami’s Parrish atoned for his fumble by returning the punt 50 yards down the right sideline to the OSU 26 with 2:02 left.

Once again, the OSU defense stiffened with defensive end Simon Fraser sacking Dorsey for a 4-yard loss at the OSU 30. After Dorsey threw underneath to Payton for a 7-yard gain down to the 23, the 'Canes allowed the clock to dwindle down to 3 seconds before calling timeout.

OSU then called two timeouts of its own -- icing Sievers for a total of nearly five minutes -- before he kicked the game-tying 40-yard field goal just inside the right upright to send the game to overtime.

The First Overtime

OSU won the toss and chose defense, while Miami elected to use the "open" south end of the stadium.

"I wouldn't say we were really chipper, but we had a sense that we had been there before and we could handle the situation," OSU tight end Ben Hartsock said of his team's mind-set headed into the extra period.

Miami needed just five plays to find the end zone. Dorsey capped the drive with a 7-yard TD pass to Winslow, who shrugged off interference by OSU's Allen to put his team up 24-17.

OSU was behind the eight ball quickly as Krenzel was sacked at the Miami 29. But his pass to Michael Jenkins on fourth-and-14 netted 17 yards and a first down at the Miami 12.

"They were playing us with a Cover-2 zone, and we called a comeback route," Krenzel said. "The offensive line did a great job of protecting me. That gave Mike a chance to get into the route. I threw it on time and he caught it."

Jenkins added, "It was fourth-and-14 and we had to have it. But that hurt. I messed up my foot a bit when I came down, but that was cool."

Krenzel sandwiched a 7-yard run around two incomplete passes, leaving the Buckeyes with fourth-and-3 at the Miami 5.

Krenzel threw to Gamble in the right corner of the end zone, but Miami's Glenn Sharpe broke up the pass. The game appeared to be over as fireworks exploded overhead and Miami players stormed the field.

But field judge Terry Porter, standing in the back corner of the end zone, seemingly overruled himself and tossed a late pass interference flag on Sharpe.

Given new life, the Buckeyes capitalized. Krenzel tied the game at 24 with his 1-yard TD plunge behind left guard Adrien Clarke.

The Second Overtime

OSU had the ball first and needed just five plays to score. Krenzel converted a third down with a 5-yard gain on a keeper. He then found Jenkins for a 6-yard gain, setting up Clarett's 5-yard TD burst up the middle to give the Buckeyes a 31-24 lead.

"Number 36, the safety (Maurice Sikes), tried to sideswipe me," Clarett said. "I just dived to the end zone and got in."

Miami seemed poised to force a third overtime, despite losing Dorsey for a play due to an injury. Backup Derrick Crudup completed an 8-yard pass to Quadtrine Hill before Dorsey converted a fourth down with a 7-yard pass to Winslow.

OSU face mask and pass interference penalties helped move the 'Canes down to the OSU 2. Payton got 1 yard on first down before Dorsey's second-down pass to Eric Winston was wide and incomplete.

A quick give to fullback Hill was snuffed by OSU's Matt Wilhelm for no gain on third down.

Finally, Dorsey dropped and tried to throw on fourth down. But OSU linebacker Cie Grant came unblocked off the right edge -- his first blitz of the game -- to pressure Dorsey into throwing wildly. Dorsey's pass glanced off OSU safety Donnie Nickey with no receiver even close.

The game was over and Ohio State had finally -- at long last -- realized its championship dream.

Game Notes

* Ohio State snapped a two-game bowl losing streak and improved its all-time bowl record to 15-19.

That mark includes a 2-1 record in the Fiesta Bowl. The Buckeyes lost the 1980 Fiesta Bowl to Penn State but won the 1983 game over Pittsburgh.

OSU also is 2-0 in BCS bowl games. The Buckeyes won the 1999 Sugar Bowl over Texas A&M.

* Miami's bowl record dropped to 16-13 all-time, including 0-4 in the Fiesta Bowl. OSU snapped Miami's five-game bowl winning streak.

* Ohio State improved to 4-7 all-time against the top-ranked team in the Associated Press poll.

Other OSU wins over No. 1-ranked teams include a 1952 triumph over Wisconsin, a 1968 victory over Purdue and a 1985 win over Iowa.

* Since the inception of the AP poll in 1936, the nation's top two teams have now met 34 times. OSU became the 12th No. 2 team to upset the No. 1 team.

No. 2-ranked teams now have a record of 12-20-2 in such games.

Top-ranked OSU defeated No. 2 USC 27-16 in the 1969 Rose Bowl in the only other 1-vs.-2 game involving the Buckeyes. Miami fell to 3-3 in such games, including 0-3 as the No. 1 team.

* OSU improved to 2-1 all-time against Miami. OSU defeated Miami 10-0 in 1977 in Columbus, while the 'Canes evened the series with a 23-12 win in the 1999 Kickoff Classic.

* Miami trailed at halftime for just the third time all year. Florida State and Rutgers each led the 'Canes at intermission during the regular season.

* Miami's seven first-half points were the fewest of the season and the least it has scored since it trailed Washington 21-3 at halftime of a 34-29 loss in 2000, the last time the Hurricanes had tasted defeat.

* This was OSU's second all-time overtime game. The Buckeyes defeated Illinois 23-16 in a single-overtime game earlier this year.

No current Miami player has ever played an OT game. The 'Canes last went to overtime in 1998, when Virginia Tech prevailed 27-20.

* The championship celebration after the game was just the beginning for this team. Over the next seven months, the Buckeyes were honored at various ceremonies.

On Jan. 8, Tressel and key players participated in a taping for an ESPN Classic special on the game. On Jan. 11, Tressel and the players presented the school with their national championship trophy at halftime of an OSU basketball game at the Schottenstein Center.

On Jan. 18, a crowd of 52,000 attended a celebration at Ohio Stadium on a 10 degree day. On Feb. 12, the team was honored at a Columbus Blue Jackets game at Nationwide Arena. On Feb. 24, the team flew to Washington for a visit with President George W. Bush at the White House.

Finally, Tressel rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange on May 9 and sang Take Me Out To The Ballgame at Wrigley Field in Chicago on July 4.

The Numbers Game

Ohio State 31, Miami (Fla.) 24 (2 OT)

Score by Quarters 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / OT / OT / Score
Ohio State (14-0) 0 /14 /3 /0 /7 /7 /31
Miami (Fla.) (12-1) 7 /0 /7 /3 /7 /0 /24

Scoring Summary:
First Quarter
Miami —
Parrish, Roscoe 25 yd pass from Dorsey, Ken (Sievers, Todd kick),
4:09.

Second Quarter
OSU —
Krenzel, Craig 1 yd run (Nugent, Mike kick), 2:28.
OSU — Clarett, Maurice 7 yd run (Nugent, Mike kick), 1:10.

Third Quarter
OSU —
Nugent, Mike 44 yd field goal, 8:33.
Miami — McGahee, Willis 9 yd run (Sievers, Todd kick), 2:11.

Fourth Quarter
Miami —
Sievers, Todd 40 yd field goal, 0:00.

First Overtime
Miami –
Winslow, Kellen 7 yd pass from Dorsey, Ken (Sievers, Todd kick).
OSU — Krenzel, Craig 1 yd run (Nugent, Mike kick).

Second Overtime
OSU —
Clarett, Maurice 5 yd run (Nugent, Mike kick).

Team Statistics OSU/Miami
FIRST DOWNS 14/19
RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 52-145/33-65
PASSING YDS (NET) 122/304
Passes Att-Comp-Int 21-7-2/44-29-2
TOTAL OFF. PLAYS-YDS 73-267/77-369
Fumble Returns-Yards 0-0/0-0
Punt Returns-Yards 1-1/2-56
Kickoff Returns-Yards 1-15/1-39
Interception Returns-Yards 2-47/2-28
Punts (Number-Avg) 6-47.7/4-43.2
Fumbles-Lost 0-0/3-3
Penalties-Yards 9-49/6-30
Possession Time 31:27/28:33
Third-Down Conversions 6 of 18/6 of 18
Fourth-Down Conversions 2 of 3/1 of 2
Red-Zone Scores-Chances 2-4/2-2
Sacks By: Number-Yards 4-18/1-4

Individual Statistics

Rushing: Ohio State -- Krenzel, Craig 19-81; Clarett, Maurice 23-47; Ross, Lydell 9-17; Groom, Andy 1-0. Miami -- McGahee, Willis 20-67; Payton, Jarrett 8-17; Hill, Quadtrine 1-0; Dorsey, Ken 4-minus 19.

Passing: Ohio State -- Krenzel, Craig 7-21-2-122. Miami -- Dorsey, Ken 28-43-2-
296; Crudup, Derrick 1-1-0-8.

Receiving: Ohio State -- Jenkins, Michael 4-45; Gamble, Chris 2-69; Vance, Chris 1-8. Miami --Winslow, Kellen 11-122; Parrish, Roscoe 5-70; Johnson, Andre 4-54; Sands, Ethenic 3-34; McGahee, Willis 3-5; Hill, Quadtrine 1-8; Payton, Jarrett 1-7; Geathers, Jason 1-4.

Interceptions: Ohio State -- Fox, Dustin 1-12; Doss, Mike 1-35. Miami -- Taylor, Sean 2-28.

Fumbles: Ohio State -- None. Miami -- Dorsey, Ken 1-1; Taylor, Sean 1-1; Parrish, Roscoe 1-1.

Sacks (UA-A): Ohio State -- Peterson, Kenny 2-0; Smith, Will 1-0; Fraser, Simon 1-0. Miami -- Green, Jamaal 1-0.

Tackles (UA-A): Ohio State -- Wilhelm, Matt 6-4; Doss, Mike 3-6; Smith, Will 6-2; Fox, Dustin 5-2; Grant, Cie 4-3; Peterson, Kenny 4-1; Nickey, Donnie 3-2; Allen, Will 3-2; Gamble, Chris 3-2; Reynolds, Robert 3-1; Anderson, Tim 1-3; Thompson, David 0-3; Scott, Darrion 1-0; Everett, Tyler 1-0; Moore, Steven 1-0; Fraser, Simon 1-0; Clarett, Maurice 1-0; Groom, Andy 0-1; TEAM 0-1; Kudla, Mike 0-1. Miami -- Vilma, Jonathan 5-9; Sikes, Maurice 2-10; Taylor, Sean 2-9; Williams, D.J. 3-5; McIntosh, Roger 2-6;
Walters, Matt 4-3; Rolle, Antrel 2-2; Harris, Orien 1-3; Green, Jamaal 2-1; Joseph, William 2-1; Haji-Rasouli, S 2-0; Williams, And. 1-1; Sharpe, Glenn 1-1; McDougle, J. 1-1; Scott, James 1-0; Marshall, Al 1-0; McGahee, Willis 1-0; Wilfork, Vince 1-0.

Starters

Ohio State – Offense: SE, Jenkins, Michael; LT, Sims, Rob; LG, Clarke, Adrien; C, Stepanovich, Alex; RG, Bishop, Bryce; RT, Olivea, Shane; TE, Hartsock, Ben; FL, Gamble, Chris; QB, Krenzel, Craig; TB , Clarett, Maurice; FB, Joe, Branden.

Defense: RE, Smith, Will; DT, Anderson, Tim; DT, Peterson, Kenny; LE, Scott,Darrion; WLB, Grant, Cie; MLB, Wilhelm, Matt; SLB, Reynolds, Robert; CB, Fox, Dustin; CB, Gamble, Chris; FS, Nickey, Donnie; SS, Doss, Mike.

Miami – Offense: SE, Johnson, Andre; LT, Joseph, Carlos; LG, Haji-Rasouli, Sherko; C, Romberg, Brett; RG, Myers, Chris; RT, Carey, Vernon; TE, Winslow, Kellen; FL, Parrish, Roscoe; QB, Dorsey, Ken; RB, McGahee, Willis; FB, Hill, Quadtrine.

Defense: RE, Green, Jamaal; RT, Walters, Matt; LT, Joseph, William; LE, McDougle, Jerome; WLB, Williams, D.J.; MLB, Vilma, Jonathan; SLB, McIntosh, Roger; RCB, Marshall, Al; LCB, Rolle, Antrel; FS, Taylor, Sean; SS, Sikes, Maurice.

Player Participation:

Ohio State – Everett, Tyler; Moore, Steven; Childress, Bam; Vance, Chris; D’Andrea, Mike; Carter, Drew; Groom, Andy; Conwell, Chris; Salley, Nate; Allen, Will; Hall, Maurice; Ross, Lydell; O’Neill, Pat; Carpenter, Bobby; Schnittker, Brandon; Hawk, A.J.; Tucker, Jack; Underwood, E.J.; Kne, Mike; Douglas, Ivan; Mangold, Nick; Kudla, Mike; Andrews, Kyle; Fraser, Simon; Hamby, Ryan; Arden, Redgie; Nugent, Mike; Caldwell, Jason; Bond, Jason; Green, Marcus; Thompson, David; Richardson, Jay.

Miami – Geathers, Jason; Sands, Ethenic; Capshaw, Freddie; Sievers, Todd; Crudup, Derrick; Jennings, Kelly; Maxey, Marcus; Threat, Greg; Scott, James; Sharpe, Glenn; Payton, Jarrett; Peattie, Jon; Humphrey, Talib; Williams, Leon; Clark, Howard; McClover, D; Weaver, Jarrell; Kunz, Brad; Harvey, Chris; Rodriguez, Joel; Wilfork, Vince; Jolla, Akieem; Williams, David; Winston, Eric; Harris, Orien; Williams, And.

Game Data

Stadium: Sun Devil Stadium; Attendance: 77,502; Kickoff time: 6:21; End of Game: 10:17; Total elapsed time: 3:56. Officials (Big 12 crew): Referee: Randy Christal; Umpire: Steve Storie; Linesman: Don Kapral; Line judge: Derick Bowers; Back judge: John Robinson; Field judge: Terry Porter; Side judge: Brad Van Vark; Scorer: John Olson. Temperature: 70; Wind: W9; Weather: Beautiful.

Previous Installments

Here are the previous installments in this series:

2002 Flashback: OSU vs. Texas Tech

2002 Flashback: OSU vs. Kent State

2002 Flashback: OSU vs. Washington State

2002 Flashback: OSU vs. Cincinnati

2002 Flashback: OSU vs. Indiana

2002 Flashback: OSU vs. Northwestern

2002 Flashback: OSU vs. San Jose State

2002 Flashback: OSU vs. Wisconsin

2002 Flashback: OSU vs. Penn State

2002 Flashback: OSU vs. Minnesota

2002 Flashback: OSU vs. Purdue

2002 Flashback: OSU vs. Illinois

2002 Flashback: OSU vs. Michigan

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:

Steve Helwagen
P.O. Box 34
Pataskala, OH 43062
Allow 2 weeks for shipping.

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