The year was 1978… Most Americans had no idea what the internet was, many had never seen a mobile phone and none had ever witnessed Ohio State defeat an SEC team in a bowl game. Today, hundreds of millions own cell phones and billions have used the internet… still nobody has seen Ohio State defeat an SEC team in a bowl game.
Alabama – 1978
It all started on January 2, 1978 in the Louisiana Superdome. Legendary Alabama Coach Bear Bryant led his 11-1 Crimson Tide against the (almost) equally legendary Woody Hayes and his 9-3 Ohio State Buckeyes. The much anticipated meeting of two of the most notable names in the history of college football would prove to be a disappointment (but definitely not the last) for fans of THE Ohio State University. Despite ten fumbles by Alabama, two of which were lost, the Crimson tide rolled to a 35-6 pounding of The Ohio State University in their first trip to the Sugar Bowl.
Auburn – 1990
The next meeting between the Buckeyes and God’s Conference would take place in the 1990 Hall of Fame Bowl. After taking commanding 14-3 lead it appeared that the Buckeyes would stop their losing streak to the SEC before it even got started. Early in the second quarter the entire complexion of the game changed after a devastating hit by Ohio State’s Zack Dumas on Auburn’s Stacy Danley. As Danley lay on the ground injured, Dumas and teammates celebrated what has come to be known as simply “the hit.” After almost four minutes on the turf, Danley was able to walk off the field under his own strength at which point he turned and simply pointed to the Ohio State players that had celebrated his misfortune. When asked about the hit, Auburn Receiver Greg Taylor said “We started the game in sort of a daze and the minute Stacy got hit, it pumped us up.” “Pumped up” might be a slight understatement as the Tigers went on to score 28 unanswered points en route to a demoralizing 31-14 victory in John Cooper’s first bowl appearance with THE Ohio State University.
Georgia – 1993
The much anticipated 1993 Citrus Bowl featured two of the most highly touted Running Backs in the country in Garrison Hearst of Georgia and Robert Smith of Ohio State. While both players had very strong performances, rushing for over 100 yards (162 for Hearst) and two touchdowns apiece, Ohio State Quarterback Kirk Herbstreit did not. Completing only 8 of 24 passes for 110 yards, one interception and zero touchdowns, “Herbie” was absolutely shut down by Georgia’s defense. Thanks to Herbstreit’s forgettable performance the Buckeyes were unable to generate any offense through the air and fell 21-14 to the Bulldogs.
Alabama – 1995
The Buckeyes would return to the Citrus Bowl in 1995 to take on Alabama. Despite a dozen tackles for a loss, a blocked punt, a blocked field goal and three recovered Alabama fumbles the (somehow) porous Ohio State Defense gave up a staggering 521 yards of total offense to the Crimson Tide. What THE Ohio State Defense could not do, a stray dog did. With the Crimson Tide driving early in the game a stray dog ran out on the field causing a five minute delay and halting the wave of momentum the Crimson Tide had been riding. Alabama would end the drive with a missed field goal. With the ball in their own territory in a tie game with only 42 seconds remaining, Alabama Running Back, Sherman Williams was primed to step into the spotlight (and the nightmares of Ohio State fans). Having already turned in one of the most complete stat lines in Citrus Bowl history (27 carries for 166 yards and a touchdown along with 8 receptions for 105 yards at this point) Williams caught a short Jay Barker pass over the middle and took it 50 yards for the go-ahead score. Despite the arsenal of offensive weapons possessed by the Buckeyes (Joey Galloway, Eddie George, Terry Glenn, Ricky Dudley, etc.), Alabama was able to do what they had done all day and shut down THE Ohio State University securing a 24-17 win.
Tennessee – 1996
The Buckeyes would return to the scene of one of their most demoralizing bowl losses just one year later. A young Peyton Manning led his 10-1 Tennessee Volunteers against the 11-1 Buckeyes in a rain soaked Citrus Bowl. While the Sophomore Manning had (what we would now consider) one of his more forgettable games (20-35 for 182 yards and a touchdown) it would be the Tennessee Defense that would make this game winnable for the Vols. After jumping out to an early 7-0 lead the Buckeyes appeared to be on their way to scoring another touchdown when Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George was leveled by Tennessee’s Bill Duff on a fourth and goal attempt from the two yard line. This would prove to be the turning point in the game as the Vols would effectively shut down George who rushed for a season low 89 yards. Tennessee’s running game, however, thrived as Jay Graham rushed 26 times for 154 yards and a touchdown (that came on a 69 yard run). Joey Kent made a great adjustment to catch a 50 yard touchdown pass that looked more like it was thrown by Manning’s brother (Cooper, not Eli) than Peyton himself to give the Vols a 14-7 lead. Ohio State would come back to tie the game but the strength of the Tennessee Defense was able to hold the highly touted Buckeyes in the 4th quarter when Vols kicker Jeff Hall added two field goals to give the his team a 20-14 win and THE Ohio State Buckeyes a five game losing streak to SEC opponents in bowl games.
South Carolina – 2001
With Ohio State Head Coach John Cooper firmly on the hot seat the Buckeyes took on Lou Holtz and the South Carolina Gamecocks in the 2001 Outback bowl. Long story short, John Cooper was unemployed shortly after this game. The South Carolina Defense would hold the Buckeyes to only 85 rushing yards on 33 carries and 173 yards on 16 completions in the air. Ohio State scored it’s only touchdown on a fumble recovery in the end zone by Mike Gurr in the third quarter and would go on to lose 24-7 thanks to South Carolina Running Back (and Ohio native) Ryan Brewer’s 219 all purpose yard, three touchdown performance.
South Carolina – 2002
The 2002 Outback Bowl would be a re-match of the previous years “contest” (if you can call it that). The Gamecocks seemed to have the game comfortably in hand with a 28-0 lead late in the third quarter but gave up 28 unanswered points to the Buckeyes and Quarterback Steve Bellisari (who was probably just rusty in the first half considering he had missed the team’s last two games due to a suspension for a drunken driving arrest). With the Buckeyes in the midst of one of the greatest comebacks in bowl history Bellisari threw a late interception giving the Gamecocks good field position which allowed Daniel Weaver to kick the game winning field goal as the clock expired. The loss to South Carolina would be Jim Tressel’s first loss to an SEC team in a bowl game but certainly not his last.
Florida – 2007
On January 8, 2007 The Florida Gators took on the Buckeyes in the BCS National Championship game in Glendale, Arizona. Ohio State was coming off of a 51 day break thanks to the Big 10’s lack of a conference championship game (what sense does it make to have the top team from each division play each other to determine who the best in the conference is?) Many in the national media wondered if the Gators were even worthy of a chance to play the undefeated Buckeyes, who were in the midst of a 19 game winning streak. After the game, Urban Meyer said “”I’d like to thank all those people. Our pregame speech was easy.” After returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown, Ohio State’s Ted Ginn Jr. injured his ankle celebrating and watched from the sidelines as his Buckeyes were absolutely dominated on both sides of the ball by Meyer’s Gators. The Gator Defense, behind Defensive Ends Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey, accosted Heisman Trophy winning Quarterback Troy Smith. Smith was sacked five times (once by Linebacker Earl Everett despite losing his helmet early in the play) , completed only four of fifteen passes for 35 yards (and one interception) and rushed ten times for -29 yards. As if the defensive domination wasn’t enough, the Florida offense appeared unstoppable with 370 yards of total offense and 21 first downs. Despite having 51 days to prepare for Meyer’s offense, Tressel’s Defense was constantly shifting and generally running around like a chicken with its head cut off. When all was said and done, the Gators held the ball more than twice as long as the Buckeyes (40:48 to 19:12) and went on to a 41-14 thrashing that would give the Nation it’s most public glimpse of SEC domination of THE Ohio State University.
LSU – 2008
The Buckeyes would have a chance to redeem their previous BCS Championship Game blunder on January 7, 2008 against the LSU Tigers. Again the Buckeyes were favored going into the game against their SEC opponent and again they would be disappointed. Just like the previous year, the Buckeyes jumped out to an early lead (10-0) and just like the previous year they blew it. THE Ohio State Defense looked, at times, helpless as the Tigers scored twenty one unanswered points in the second quarter. When the Tigers started the second half with another score, the route was on. Ohio State would add a couple touchdowns to make the score look much better than the performance on the field but when the clock struck zero it was the LSU Tigers of the SEC that were National Champions and THE Ohio State Buckeyes that were the owners of one of the most notorious records in college football, zero wins in nine attempts against SEC teams in bowl games.
Arkansas – 2011
Welcome to the Sugar Bowl. Arkansas Razorbacks have plenty of offense with Ryan Mallett and Knile Davis. Ohio State has an overrated Terrelle Pryor.
Is the Whipping Boy ready?