Herron Looks to Etch Name into Rivalry Lore
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State running back Boom Herron had a feeling when he stepped on to the field at Ohio Stadium during last year’s Michigan game.
The Buckeyes were backed up against their own goal line, but Herron couldn’t shake the feeling that something big was about to happen.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“We were coming off the sideline and Boom looks at me and goes, ‘Hey, hey! Watch this,’” fullback Zach Boren said.
“‘I’m about to break this one.’ And I go, ‘No you’re not.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, watch. Watch.’ Next thing you know, (98) yards later he’s in the end zone.”
Herron broke through the left side of the line and made the first man—Ray Vinopal--miss at the 7-yard line. Suddenly he was in the open field with one Michigan defender between he and the end zone. Wideout Dane Sanzenbacher planted cornerback James Rogers at the Michigan 9-yard line as Herron walked into the end zone for a 98-yard touchdown run.
It would have been the longest play from scrimmage in Ohio State history, except Sanzenbacher was flagged for hold on Rogers back at the 9-yard line.
“You have to prepare for it and give it your all in that game,” said Herron, a fifth-year senior out of Warren Harding High School.
“You run as hard as you can. One yard equals two and five yards equals 10. Every play is huge. Everything is crazy.”
By that crazy math, Herron’s run would have equaled 178 yards. That is the kind of impact a run like that can have in the Ohio State-Michigan game. It has been called the greatest rivalry in all of sports, but it is undoubtedly one of the fiercest in college football.
It is a game where legends are made and heroes are remembered.
“Just playing in that game and knowing this game lives with you for the rest of your life,” Herron said.
“You want to come out on top and win the game. You have to prepare for it and give it your all in that game.”
Photo by Dan Harker
Herron has been a part of four Ohio State victories against Michigan since coming to Columbus in 2007. He played in the last three and has already made a name for himself as one of the rivalry’s top-performers.
In three meetings with the Wolverines, Herron has tallied four touchdowns while averaging 117 yards per game on the ground. He went for 80 yards and two scores on just eight carries as a redshirt freshman in 2008.
The Buckeyes won that game 42-7 in Columbus, but it was Herron’s 49-yard touchdown run that gave them a commanding 21-7 lead early in the third quarter.
“My freshman year, I learned more about (the game),” Herron said.
“And that's when I saw how serious it really was.”
The following year, Herron would run for 96 yards in 19 carries in Ohio State’s 21-10 win in Ann Arbor. He also caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Terrelle Pryor late in the third quarter that gave the Buckeyes a two-score lead.
A year ago, Herron had his breakout game in the series, rushing for 175 yards on 22 carries. That included the 89 yard run (officially) that led to Ohio State’s first touchdown, as well as a 32-yard touchdown run of his own in the third quarter.
“This game here is The Game. It's a one-game season. You are remembered by
what you do in this game,” Herron said.
“I want to go out there and try to have a great game.”
Herron has already totaled 351 yards rushing and four touchdowns in his career against Michigan, but one more great game against the Wolverines would forever cement his place as one of the great Buckeye heroes in this rivalry.
In his two games against Michigan (2005-06), Antonio Pittman ran for 271 yards and a pair of touchdown. That’s nothing compared to Beanie Wells, who tallied 412 yards and four touchdowns on the ground in three victories (2006-08) over the Wolverines.
It is especially important for Herron in this one because the Buckeyes are underdogs heading into Ann Arbor for the first time since Herron arrived at Ohio State five years ago.
It is especially important in this one because the Buckeyes are underdogs heading into Ann Arbor for the first time since Herron arrived at Ohio State five years ago.
“Boom is an extreme competitor,” senior linebacker Andrew Sweat said.
“This is the biggest game of the year, and obviously Boom gets up for it. But against anyone he does well. I expect Boom to do extremely well this weekend.”
They will likely need him to if they are going to pull off the upset and keep their longest winning streak alive against that school up north.
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