Sports

Beat Michigan Week: How Buckeye Football Began

7 Dec , 2020  

By 1812Blockhouse

It’s Beat Michigan Week for those who bleed scarlet and gray – and as Mansfield is a component part of the OSU network of campuses, that certainly includes us.

The annual contest is set for this coming Saturday at noon at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. A 30 point favorite, the Buckeyes’ current win streak stands at eight games.

To kick things off this week, we thought that we would share a bit about how football began at The Ohio State University. Some time ago, we shared a story on our sister publication, 1808Delaware, about the very first OSU game — played not in Columbus, but on the campus of Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware. We’re happy to share it today with 1812Blockhouse readers.


The storied football history of The Ohio State University started right here in Delaware County. Here are details about the school’s first football contest, hosted by the Battling Bishops of Ohio Wesleyan University.

  • Date: May 3, 1890
  • Final Score: OSU 20, OWU 14
  • Attendance: 700
  • Where played: A site near the sulfur spring and the Delaware Run and north of the historical marker, not far from Selby Stadium. Spectators sat on the hill. The games were later moved as the ball kept falling into the river.
  • Touchdowns scored by each team: OSU – 4, OWU – 3 (each counted for 4 points)
  • Extra points scored by each team: OSU – 2, OWU – 1 (each counted for 2 points)
  • Time OSU left Columbus — 6:00 AM
  • Time OSU arrived in Delaware — 6:45 AM
  • Time game began — 9:03 AM
  • Weather — Cool temperatures, drizzling rain
  • Scored first touchdown in OSU football history — Quarterback Joseph “Jo Jo” Large. Large had actually previously attended Ohio Wesleyan. He passed away in 1908 and is buried in Whigville, Noble County.
  • Uniforms — OSU wore gray shirts with “OSU” in scarlet letters, gray pants, scarlet stockings
  • Other rules differences in 1890:
    • Players did not wear pads or helmets
    • No forward passes
    • Extra point kicks were attempted from the spot where the touchdown was scored
  • OSU record in 1890 — 1-4

Other facts — This was the only game OSU played that spring, and the team did not yet have a coach; a coach was obtained before the fall schedule of games. The right tackle for OSU was Herbert Johnston, inventor of the electric mixer. OWU played club football as far back as 1875; the faculty forced its termination until 1890.

Historic marker dedicated on the site where the game was played — May 3, 2008. At the dedication ceremony, two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin shared, ““I doubt on May 3, 1890, the participants on the Ohio State-Ohio Wesleyan football game could have realized that they were setting in motion something that would produce what we see today.”

Sources: Eleven Warriors, 247Sports.com, The Lantern, Wikipedia

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