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Ohio State’s 2002 National Championship Team honored during the Notre Dame game

Members of the 2002 national championship team were honored during Saturday's home opener against Notre Dame.
Credit: AP
Former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is carried on the shoulders of his 2002 national championship during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game between Notre Dame and Ohio State, Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State's season opener against Notre Dame featured two of the nation's top five teams, but the game also served as a backdrop to honor one of the university's best team.

At the end of the first quarter, fans had their chance to honor the 2002 Ohio State national championship team to mark the 20th anniversary of the historic season.

A video of former head coach Jim Tressel played on the big screen at Ohio Stadium, giving a fiery speech about his team back in 2002 at the end of the championship game.

"We always had the best damn band in the land. Now, we've got the best damn team in the land," Tressel said in 2002.

Tressel reluctantly was hoisted on to the shoulders of two former players and the crowd roared.

While the Buckeyes ultimately walked away with the national title that year, it wasn't what was expected out of a team coming off a 7-5 record in Tressel's first season.

Ohio State came into the season ranked No. 13 and started with convincing wins against Texas Tech, Ken State and No. 10 Washington State. This propelled the Buckeyes into the No. 6 spot.

After a close 23-19 game against Cincinnati, Ohio State picked up a pair of Big Ten Conference wins against Indiana and Northwestern. This was followed up by a 50-7 win against San Jose State.

The Buckeyes then narrowly escape Madison with a 19-14 win over Wisconsin ahead of another close contest against No. 17 Penn State of 13-7.

These close games were followed by a 31-point blowout against No. 23 Minnesota.

Now holding a No. 3 ranking, Ohio State had one of the biggest moments in program history in early November: Beating Purdue 10-6 on the "Holy Buckeye" play.

That win would push Ohio State into the No. 2 spot, good enough to be in position for the BCS Championship game.

The Buckeye would then play their first overtime game at Illinois, notching a 23-16 win before defeating No. 12 Michigan 14-9 to close the regular season.

As the No. 2 team in the country, Ohio State went into the Fiesta Bowl as underdogs to No. 1 Miami.

The Buckeyes hung with the Hurricanes, forcing overtime knotted at 17. After both teams scored in the first OT, Big Ten Freshman of the Year Maurice Clarett gave Ohio State the lead before the defense held Miami on fourth down to end the game.

The championship brought the school it's first national championship since 1968.

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