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A Look Back at Ohio State Football 100 Years Ago

Ohio History Center

Ohio State has created a legacy over the last century of being the very best. When people talk about college athletics the Buckeyes have to be mentioned in nearly every conversation about who is the very best. Now as we near the 2023-24 football season with National Championship aspirations on our minds it seems like a good time to flash back to what the team in Columbus looked like over 100 years ago.

In 1922 the Buckeyes were led by than 10th year head coach John Wilce, who had compiled an overall record of 50-11-3 and was well on his way to becoming an all-time legend at Ohio State. However, the season of '22 marked the beginning of the stadium we call the Horseshoe and the beginning of the end of Wilce's great run in Columbus as the Buckeyes scored just 42 points that season on their way to a 3-4 record under captain Lloyd Pixley. Thankfully for the Buckeye faithful who attended these games they did not have to witness these offensive woes for a second straight season as in 1923 the Toni Petcoff led Buckeyes outscored opponents 124-99. Despite that offensive turnaround the Buckeyes were still one of the worst teams in the Big Ten that year finishing with a 1-4 in conference record, which landed them tied for eighth place in a conference that only had ten teams at the time. They finished with an overall record of 3-4-1.

Wilce would stay as head coach of the Buckeyes until the end of the 1928 season after he failed to win the Big Ten Championship for the eighth consecutive season. He would finish with an overall record 78-33-9 and won three Big Ten Championships. Wilce may not be the most memorable head coach the Buckeyes have ever had, nor the most successful, but he is responsible for starting the greatest tradition in Buckeye history. As in 1919 with Chic Harley leading the team he became the first coach to lead the Buckeyes to victory against that team to the north. Since the 1919 victory that snapped a 15-game winless streak Ohio State is 51-47-4 against their rivals. Wilce would beat the Wolverines in each of the next few seasons with his streak finally ending in that 1923 season.

The Buckeyes were a very different program 100 years ago, but the goals were very much the same. Win every game, win the conference, and beat that team up north. The coaches and players may have changed over time, but at the end of the day they all took the field with pride and honor to defend the scarlet and gray. So just remember that when the Buckeyes take the field on September 2nd, at 3:30 p.m. ET in Bloomington, Indiana that they not only represent the 2023 Ohio State Buckeyes, but that they represent over 100 years of hard work and dedication to excellence.



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