Two Ohio State football teams listed in ESPN’s best to never win a national title

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The Ohio State football program has eight national championships to its credit. It gets tricky when you count how many different organizations recognize a national title, but eight is the generally accepted number.

However, there are several other teams that were good enough to take home the ultimate prize but didn’t because of one bad game, an unlucky break or two, or other unrealized potential. You could make the argument that some teams that didn’t win the national championship were better collectively than some that did.

ESPN has tackled that theme and ranked the top 50 college football teams not to win a national championship, and two OSU teams made the list. We think there’s a glaring omission, but we’ll get to that later.

For now, you can take a look at the complete list for yourself by visiting ESPN.com and enjoying the memories (subscription required). For now though, here are the two Buckeye teams Bill Connelly highlighted.

NEXT … A “Tie”

No. 18-19 “Tie” – 1973 Ohio State football team

Oct 27, 1973; Columbus, OH, USA; FILE PHOTO; Ohio State Buckeyes running back (45) Archie Griffin on the sidelines against the Northwestern Wildcats at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes beat the Wildcats 60-0. Credit: Photo by Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

What Connelly Says

Record: 10-0-1
AP rank: second

“Arguably Ohio State’s three biggest wins over Michigan: 30-27 in 2016, 42-39 in 2006 … and 10-10 in 1973. The No. 4 Wolverines missed two field goals in the final 30 seconds against top-ranked Ohio State in Ann Arbor, and the next day Big Ten athletic directors voted to send the Buckeyes to the Rose Bowl instead of the Wolverines despite the fact that OSU had been there the year before.

“Most ADs publicly cited an injury to Michigan QB Dennis Franklin as the major reason for the vote. UM head coach Bo Schembechler cried conspiracy until his dying day. Regardless, both of these programs were at their outright peak in 1973. In the 20 games that weren’t against each other, they outscored opponents 723-112. That includes OSU’s 42-21 destruction of USC in the Rose Bowl. Michigan probably would have done something similar.”

NEXT … Analytics say historically dominant

No. 13 – 2019 Ohio State football team

2 Ohio State teams on ESPN's list of best to never win national title
2 Ohio State teams on ESPN's list of best to never win national title

Dec 7, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) hands the ball to running back J.K. Dobbins (2) against the Wisconsin Badgers during the first half in the 2019 Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

What Connelly Says

Record: 13-1
AP rank: third

“We remember Ryan Day’s 2019 Buckeyes primarily for the game they lost: a controversial and utterly magnificent 29-23 defeat against Clemson that sent the Tigers to CFP final against LSU. But what OSU did in its first 13 games made it an all-time great. It won its first 10 games by an average of 52-10, then beat three straight top-10 teams — Penn State, Michigan, Wisconsin — by an average of 17 points to get to Clemson. Justin Fields threw for 3,273 yards, J.K. Dobbins rushed for 2,003 and DE Chase Young was the best defender in the country. An unreal team with an unfortunate ending.”

NEXT … What we say

Two more Ohio State teams that should have won a national title?

Nov 21, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) hands the ball off to Buckeyes running back Ezekiel Elliott (15) during warmups prior to the Buckeyes’ game against the Michigan State Spartans at Ohio Stadium. Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

2015 Team

Record: 13-1
AP rank: fourth

The 1973 and 2019 teams are worthy of this list, but there are two Ohio State teams glaringly committed that should be a part of it. Ezekiel Elliott, J.T. Barrett, Cardale Jones, Joey Bosa, Michael Thomas, Curtis Samuel, Braxton Miller. All of those guys and more were key contributors the team coming back after making a surprising run for the national title in 2014. It might be the most talented bunch to ever suit up in scarlet gray. You know the story well, but the Buckeyes fell by three points in a bit of a weather quagmire to Michigan State, who by the way made the CFP themselves.

Somehow that team didn’t get any recognition when discussing the teams to make the College Football Playoff and we wonder if the same were to hold true if Alabama were in the same prediciment. The Buckeyes went on to dismantle Michigan, then did the same against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Three points. That’s all that separated a team that should have won it all.

NEXT … Michigan State ruins the day again

Another team that should have won the title

Ohio State linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer (45) tackles Michigan State Sedrick Irvin (33) in the second quarter Satruday, Nov. 7, 1998, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Chris Putman)

The 1998 Team

Record: 11-1
AP rank: second

And we can’t forget about the 1998 team either. It was the preseason No. 1 team heading into the season but also fell to Michigan State in a weird game that turned on some strange turnovers and 50/50 balls the Spartans seemed to always come up with when needed. The Spartans erased a 24-9 lead, scoring 19 unanswered points in the second half to win 28-24, intercepting a Joe Germaine pass in the end zone with OSU driving for the win to seal it.

Some of the names on that team included Germaine, David Boston, Dee Miller, Andy Katzemoyer, Damon Moore, Antoine Winfield, and Michael Wiley. Prior to the 2015 team, it was the most dominant squad I had ever witnessed in my lifetime.