Nov. 13, 2004, will probably not go down in Ohio State history as a date to remember by Ohio State fans, or even Purdue fans. For the record, Ohio State lost at Purdue 24-17 in Ross-Ade Stadium. Ohio State fell to a 6-4 record, and was in the midst of arguably Jim Tressel's worst season since Tressel became Ohio State's head coach in 2001.
Why am I bringing up a loss to Purdue? Here's the answer—Nov. 13, 2004 was the last time Ohio State lost a game to a non-BCS opponent.
By the time Ohio State and Purdue kick off on Saturday afternoon on Oct. 17, 2009, it will have been 1799 days—nearly a five-year span—since the last time Ohio State lost to a team that did not appear in a BCS bowl game.
How does that compare to the other top-ranked teams in college football, you ask? Let us take a look at the teams ranked ahead of Ohio State, seeing when the last time these teams lost to a non-BCS bowl participant, to put this in perspective.
No. 1 Florida: Currently undefeated, Florida lost last season to unranked Ole Miss at home, 31-30, in Sept. 27, 2008—or 385 days ago from this coming Saturday.
No. 2 Alabama: Currently undefeated, Alabama lost 17-10 at Auburn on Nov. 24, 2007—or 693 days from this coming Saturday.
No. 3 Texas: Currently undefeated, Texas lost 39-33 to Texas Tech on the last play of the game on Nov. 1, 2008, or 350 days ago from this coming Saturday. Texas Tech did wind up playing in the Cotton Bowl last season, as did Ole Miss, but we all know that the Cotton Bowl was not considered a BCS game last season.
No. 4 Virginia Tech: Currently with one loss to # 2 ranked Alabama, Virginia Tech lost 16-14 at Miami (FL) on Nov. 13, 2008, or 338 days ago from this coming Saturday.
No. 5 Boise State: Currently undefeated and mentioned as a possible "BCS Buster" this season, Boise State technically last lost to a non-BCS opponent during the last bowl season in the Poinsettia Bowl to No. 11 TCU 17-16 on Dec. 23, 2008.
Considering both Boise State and TCU were undefeated but relegated to The Poinsettia Bowl, I am willing to dig deeper. Boise State's last non-BCS loss occurred in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl to East Carolina 41-38 on Dec. 23, 2007, or 664 days from this coming Saturday.
No. 6 USC: Currently ranked one spot ahead of Ohio State (and deservedly so, I might add, due to USC's victory over Ohio State), USC lost to unranked Washington 16-13 on Sept. 19, 2009, or 28 days ago from this coming Saturday.
To be fair to both USC and Washington, it is entirely possible that Washington could still win the Pac-10. Looking further, USC at Oregon State 27-21 on Sept. 25, 2008, or 387 days ago from this coming Saturday.
Critics like to point out Ohio State's shortcomings in recent bowl games, or even this season against USC. One thing to keep in mind—Ohio State under Jim Tressel will never overlook any opponent. The evidence is clear from the fact that Ohio State has not lost to a team considered to be a weaker opponent in nearly five years.
Win the games you are supposed to win. That is a lesson these other top programs unfortunately have had to learn in the all-too-recent past, unlike Ohio State.