2004 Fiesta Bowl
Offensive Player of the Game: Craig Krenzel, Ohio State
Defensive Player of the Game: A.J. Hawk, Ohio State
Sportsmanship Award: Darren Sproles, Kansas State
Head Coaches: Jim Tressel, Ohio State - Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Payout Per Team: $13,800,000
A year after winning the national championship in dramatic fashion, the Ohio State Buckeyes returned to Sun Devil Stadium and proved their fortitude with a 35-28 victory over Big 12 champion Kansas State in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl.
The game wasn’t decided until a desperation pass by Kansas State hit the ground, but the Buckeyes had control throughout. Ohio State built leads of 21-0 and 35-14 behind its usual strengths — a tenacious defense and a gritty quarterback.
Craig Krenzel was named offensive player of the game, joining Penn State’s Curt Warner as the only other player in Fiesta Bowl history to claim the honor on two occasions. The senior signal caller tossed four touchdown passes, two to Michael Jenkins, and had his usual poise when the Wildcats got close.
Kansas State started slow but battled throughout, as the one-two punch of Ell Roberson and Darren Sproles did its best to keep the Wildcats in the game. After falling behind 21-0, Kansas State pulled within seven shortly after halftime on a 14-yard TD run by Roberson.
But Ohio State answered with 14 points in the third quarter on touchdown passes from Krenzel to Jenkins (eight yards) and Santonio Holmes (31 yards) to give the Buckeyes a comfortable cushion.
The Wildcats again pulled within seven with two short touchdown runs in the fourth quarter. After holding the Buckeyes on defense, K-State got the ball with a chance to tie the game. But after crossing midfield, Ohio State’s defense made two key plays and Roberson’s long pass to the goal line was knocked down as time expired.
It was a reunion of sorts for both teams, each of which had claimed arguably their biggest wins in school history in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Buckeyes had the most recent and most memorable game, a double-overtime thriller over defending national champion Miami the previous year that shocked the college football world and will long be remembered as one of the greatest games in history.
K-State defeated Syracuse, which was led by Donovan McNabb, in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl, earning the Wildcats their first 11-win season in school history and first victory in a major bowl game.
On this night, however, the magic from Ohio State’s national championship was still in the air, as the Buckeyes made all of the key plays on offense and defense to defeat one of the hottest teams in the nation.