The Buckeyes finished the 1956 season with a two shut-out losses to Iowa and Michigan. Going into the 1957 season fans had a feeling of rebuilding. The feeling was made stronger with an opening loss to unranked TCU. To make matters worse, Michigan State, Minnesota, Michigan and Iowa were all ranked in the Top 6 of the AP Poll Rankings while Ohio State would not be ranked until late October. Coach Hayes rallied the team every week and made them better following this loss.
The Buckeyes came back with a big win at Washington and victories over Illinois, Wisconsin and Purdue, along with crushing victories over Indiana and Northwestern. A shocking Purdue upset over #2 Michigan State, a tie between Michigan and Iowa, and Minnesota’s unraveling season after a loss to Illinois continued to help the Buckeyes.
It was a late star performance by sophomore fullback Bob White against unbeaten Iowa that pushed the team even further. Trailing 13–10 and on their own 32-yard line, White ran on six of the eight plays for 66 out of the 68 yards, capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run.
A victory over Michigan moved the Bucks up to #2 in the AP, behind Auburn. However, the UPI Coaches' poll voted OSU #1 and Auburn #2. The Bucks were also declared #1 by the Football Writers Association Poll. Since Auburn was on probation during their 1957 season and did not participate in a bowl game as a result, and the fact that Ohio State played in the Rose Bowl, Ohio State is named national champions for this season by most writers.
In a hard fought Rose Bowl game, a late field goal by Don Sutherin in the fourth quarter sealed the victory over the Oregon Ducks. The Buckeyes finished the season 9–1 and named national champions.