It came a week later than expected, and was hardly easy, but Urban Meyer added another line to what will ultimately be a Hall of Fame résumé.
Coming off the upset loss to Penn State in Week 8, sixth-ranked Ohio State bounced back with a hard-fought 24-20 Week 9 win over stubborn Northwestern in Columbus. The Wildcats, who exit the game at 4-4, entered it as a nearly four-touchdown underdog and were looking for their first road win over the Buckeyes since 1971 and their first over the same team since 2004.
The Buckeyes jumped out to a 10-0 lead through the first quarter, only to see the Wildcats tie the game at 17-all in the third quarter. A Curtis Samuel four-yard run with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game gave the Buckeyes the lead. The Wildcats drove to the OSU three-yard line on the ensuing drive, but a pair of negative plays, including a backbreaking holding penalty, forced a field goal that cut the lead to four.
A J.T. Barrett pass for 16 yards to Noah Brown on third-and-8 and then a Barrett 35-yard run on third-and-10 helped bleed the clock as the Wildcats couldn’t get the ball back as the Buckeyes ran out the clock.
Barrett and the Buckeyes again struggled in the passing game, especially downfield, as Barrett’s 32 completions resulted in just 223 yards. OSU added 208 yards on the ground, with Mike Weber accounting for a game-high 87 of those.
The win officially marks the 161st win of Meyer’s stellar career, pushing him past Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops (160) for the most victories in the first 15 seasons as a head coach. Stoops had passed both Barry Switzer of Oklahoma (148) and Tom Osborne of Nebraska (147) a couple of years ago.
Of those wins, 57 have come at OSU while he picked up 65 at Florida. He also had 22 in two seasons at Utah and 17 in his two years at Bowling Green to start his head coaching career.
Meyer’s career winning percentage of .852 (161-28) is the best of any current head coach with at least 10 years of experience. All-time at the FBS level, he trails only a Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne (.881, 105-12-5), ND/Boston College’s Frank Leahy (.864, 107-13-9) and Bowling Green’s Doyt Perry (.855, 77-11-5). The all-time leader at any level? Mount Union’s Larry Kehres with just 24 losses and three ties in 359 games (.929) over 27 seasons at the Div. III power.
The only current head coach, with at least a decade of experience, in Meyer’s percentage area code is Washington’s Chris Petersen at .826 (114-24). Alabama’s Nick Saban is fourth in that category, behind Meyer, Petersen and Stoops (.792, 183-48).
And the worst in this particular area? Doug Martin, who has a career winning percentage of .304 as he has just 38 wins in 125 career games during his 11 years as head coach at both Kent State and his current job, New Mexico State.