Ohio State Football’s 25 Most Devastating Losses

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The Ohio State University Buckeyes are a widely recognized and respected college football powerhouse that has developed its reputation for over 100 years. The Buckeyes have racked up seven national championships and 34 Big Ten championships.

Ostensibly, they are a force to be reckoned with and a competitor every year. The reality of being so successful results in high expectations every year. Unfortunately, a national championship or a bowl win are not going to be the end of every season. Thus, the Buckeyes' great history is also full of tragic losses.

The Ohio State University's 25 most devastating losses are detailed below:

1. Florida 41-Ohio State 14, 2007: After an impressive undefeated season, the Buckeyes came up tragically short in the BCS title game. Although the game began with Tedd Ginn Jr.'s 93-yard kickoff return that seemed to indicate another dominating performance to cap off their incredible 2006 season, Ginn's touchdown celebration soon turned sour along with the rest of the Buckeyes' hopes, resulting in a fractured ankle for Ginn and a terrible loss for Ohio State.

2. Louisiana State 38-Ohio State 24, 2008: Ohio State once again broke down under the pressure and excitement of the BCS national championship game, giving away its early lead to the LSU Tigers in a second-quarter meltdown, in which Ohio State allowed three LSU touchdowns.

3. Michigan 13-Ohio State 9, 1996: It is always devastating to lose to your arch-rival. However, this nail-biter was even harder to stomach because it cost a very talented Buckeyes team its undefeated season and a shot at the national championship.

4. Southern California 42-Ohio State 17, 1973: This was the first of four consecutive Rose Bowl appearances of Woody Hayes and Archie Griffin's Buckeyes and the beginning of a Rose Bowl rivalry between OSU and USC, who would play each other three times in the Rose Bowl in the 1970s. Unfortunately, USC controlled the game, especially during the third quarter, ruining a great opportunity for OSU.

5. Southern California 18-Ohio State 17, 1975: Two years after losing and a year after beating USC in the Rose Bowl, OSU would fall short again. Its dreams trampled on by the Trojans and their brawny football talents, such as Sam Cunningham.

6. Michigan 24-Ohio State 12, 1969: Coming off a national championship, QB Rex Kern was expected to lead his veteran team to a repeat championship, but Michigan obliterated this goal, forcing Kern to throw four interceptions and giving OSU the first loss of its season.

7. Michigan State 28-Ohio State 24, 1998: The legendary performance of quarterback Joe Germaine and an airtight defensive core were nowhere to be found on Nov. 7, 1998, against the less-than-stellar Spartans. This was a huge upset that shook up OSU's season, preventing it from achieving a #1 ranking.

8. Michigan 32-Ohio State 23, 1995: The stacked Buckeyes--led by Heisman winner Eddie George and future NFL greats, such as Orlando Pace, Mike Vrabel, and Terry Glenn--fell to their arch-rival Wolverines. The 1995 Wolverines enacted a huge and embarrassing upset.

9. Clemson 17-Ohio State 15, 1978: This Gator Bowl loss was the tragic, embarrassing end to the Woody Hayes' legacy at OSU. Late in the game, Tigers middle guard Charlie Bauman intercepted a pass from QB Art Schlichter, who then ran out-of-play onto the OSU sideline to avoid tackles. Coach Hayes responded with a punch to Bauman's face, resulting in Hayes' dismissal from the head coach position after 28 seasons.

10. Stanford 27-Ohio State 17, 1971: The "Super Sophomores," who were now seniors, fell to Heisman winner Jim Plunkett and the Stanford Indians, a heartbreaking end to a disappointing season.

11. Michigan 20-Ohio State 14, 1997: Hoping for revenge for its 1996 defeat, OSU took on the undefeated Wolverines but was mowed down. The Wolverines then marched on to their first national championship since 1948.

12. Michigan 28-Ohio State 0, 1993: The winner of this game would claim the Big Ten title outright, but it would not be Ohio State. Michigan running backs Che Foster, Jon Ritchie, and Ed Davis trampled the Buckeyes' defense.

13. Tennessee 20-Ohio State 14, 1996: The talented OSU football team, led by Eddie George and other great players, had already led a somewhat disappointing season compared to their talents, but the close loss in the Citrus Bowl to Tennessee was the final dagger.

14. Southern California 17-Ohio State 16, 1980: Once again, OSU faced off with Rose Bowl rival USC, and once again was defeated in an excruciatingly close loss.

15. Michigan 14-Ohio State 3, 1978: Coaches Hayes and Bo Schembechler faced off again, but the declining Hayes was sadly conquered. This would be one of the last straws for Hayes and his downward spiral toward the Gator Bowl fiasco.

17. Michigan 35-Ohio State 21, 2003: Wolverines star running back Chris Perry led the team to a win over the Buckeyes, which was a disheartening performance for the Buckeyes in the centennial celebration of the powerful rivalry.

18. Texas 24-Ohio State 21, 2009: The Buckeyes lived up to their reputation to choke in big games in the late 2000s. This time, they lost to Texas by a tiny margin in the Fiesta Bowl, which gave them a three-year losing streak in big bowl games.

19. Alabama 35-Ohio State 6, 1978: Woody Hayes and his Buckeyes struggled to put up one touchdown in this embarrassing Sugar Bowl performance. This game also marked the beginning Woody Hayes' sad decline as a legendary coach.

20. Michigan 10-Ohio State 7, 1971: This was a terrible defeat for the Buckeye, who had sustained a winning streak for several years against the Wolverines for Hayes, who was fighting his "Ten-Year War" against Schembechler. This was such a close game, which made it hurt even more.

21. Notre Dame 18-Ohio State 13, 1935: This was the team's sole loss in its excellent 1935 season. The program was hitting its stride when the Fighting Irish cut the Buckeyes' feet out from under them.

22. California 28-Ohio State 0, 1921: The Buckeyes' first Rose Bowl appearance was marred by the crushing defeat they suffered from the Golden Bears.

23. Florida 24-Ohio State 17, 2012: In the wake of the crushing Tressel and tattoo scandal of 2010 the Buckeyes failed to redeem themselves at the Gator Bowl, which unmercifully ended the terrible 6-6 season. The loss seemed to point to darker times for the Buckeyes.

24. Michigan 86-Ohio State 0, 1902: This was the most embarrassing defeat that OSU ever suffered at the hands of the devilish Wolverines. However, this gut-wrenching loss did spark the writing of Ohio State's alma mater "Carmen Ohio," which occurred on the train ride back from the game.

25. Michigan 34-Ohio State 0, 1897: Ohio State was crushed in its first match against its arch-rival. The only silver lining of the game is that it gave the Buckeyes something to get angry about and use for motivation.


OSU Bowl Game History: http://www.collegefootballpoll.com/bowl_history_ohio_state.html

Ohio State Statistics: http://www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/statistics.html

I have been an Ohio resident my entire life and have followed the Buckeye football team actively. I also attend college nearby OSU and have attended OSU football games.

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