Ohio State Vs Arkansas in Sugar Bowl: Reliving Buckeyes Bowl Losses To SEC
I don't mean to pick at old scabs, or bring back bad memories, but the fact of the matter is that Ohio State has been pitiful in bowl games against the SEC.
The Buckeyes are a woeful 0-9 in bowl games against teams from the conference. Their latest loss was to LSU at the conclusion of the 2007 season in the BCS National Championship Game.
Painful for most Scarlet and Gray faithful, it was the second consecutive defeat in the national title game, and the second consecutive loss to an SEC team. Florida defeated the Buckeyes in the BCS National Championship Game the year before.
Unfortunately for Buckeyes fans, there have been seven other losses to the SEC in bowl games, but they generally get lost themselves in the 0-9 statistic. No one ever talks about the loss to Georgia in the 1993 Citrus Bowl, or the loss to Alabama in the 1978 Sugar Bowl. People generally just know that Ohio State stinks against the SEC in bowl games.
On Jan. 4 in the Sugar Bowl, the Buckeyes have a chance to get the proverbial monkey off their backs and take down an SEC team in Arkansas, in their first ever meeting with the Razorbacks.
But before Ohio State does any dancing in the Bayou, here's a look at its past failures in bowl games against an SEC opponent.
1978 Sugar Bowl—Alabama
Jan. 3, 1978, the loss that started it all.
The Buckeyes (9-2), ranked No. 9, took on No. 3 Alabama (10-1) in the 1978 Sugar Bowl. It was the first and only meeting between legendary coaches Woody Hayes and Bear Bryant. It was also the first time Ohio State played in the Sugar Bowl.
The Crimson Tide jumped out to an early 13-0 halftime lead, and the score was 21-0 entering the fourth quarter. Ohio State closed the gap to 21-6 with an early fourth-quarter touchdown by receiver Jim Harrell, but after a missed two-point conversion and two fourth-quarter touchdowns for Alabama, the Crimson Tide was too much for the Buckeyes, winning 35-6.
Alabama quarterback Jeff Rutledge was the game's most valuable player, completing 8 of 11 pass attempts for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
*Note—rankings and records are prior to the outcome of the bowl game*
1990 Hall of Fame Bowl—Auburn
Coming off a loss to Michigan in Ann Arbor, the No. 21 Buckeyes (8-3) faced No. 9 Auburn (9-2) in John Cooper's first bowl game as Ohio State's head coach.
Coming out poised to avenge the loss in Ann Arbor, the Buckeyes were leading 14-3 late in the second quarter when Tigers quarterback Reggie Slack, the game's MVP, threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Greg Taylor, cutting the Ohio State lead to 14-10 right before halftime.
Auburn scored on its first second-half possession, taking the 17-14 lead, and never looked back.
Led by Slack's four touchdown tosses, the Tigers beat the Buckeyes, 31-14, in the 1990 Hall of Fame Bowl, handing Ohio State its second consecutive bowl game loss to an SEC team.
1993 Citrus Bowl—Georgia
In the first ever meeting between the two schools, No. 8 Georgia got the better of No. 15 Ohio State, 21-14.
Led by All-American running back Garrison Hearst's 163 yards on 28 carries, the Bulldogs (9-2) scored a late fourth-quarter touchdown to edge the Buckeyes (8-2-1) in the 1993 Florida Citrus Bowl.
Midway through the fourth quarter, deep into Georgia's territory and driving with the score tied at 14, Ohio State fumbled the ball at the Bulldogs 16-yard line. Georgia gained possession and drove 84 yards for the winning score with a little more than four minutes to play.
Running back Robert Smith led the Buckeyes with 112 yards rushing and two touchdowns. However, Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit struggled mightily in his last start as a member of the Scarlet and Gray.
Herbstreit completed only eight of his 24 pass attempts, throwing for 110 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception.
1995 Citrus Bowl—Alabama
Statistically, the 1995 Citrus Bowl looked like a blowout. No. 6 Alabama (11-1) out-gained No. 13 Ohio State (9-3) 521-276 in total yards, and the Crimson Tide had 13 more first downs.
But thanks to special teams and an opportunistic defense, the Buckeyes were able to hang around.
Ohio State blocked a punt, blocked a field goal, had 12 tackles for a loss and recovered three Alabama fumbles, but it wasn't enough to get the win.
With the game tied a 17, Crimson Tide quarterback Jay Barker threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Sherman Williams with 42 seconds remaining in the game to give Alabama the 24-17 win.
Buckeyes receiver Joey Galloway caught eight passes totaling 146 yards with two touchdowns in the loss.
1996 Citrus Bowl—Tennessee
In a battle of fourth-ranked teams, the 1996 Florida Citrus Bowl featured 10-1 Tennessee versus 11-1 Ohio State.
With 11 wins, the Buckeyes were looking to become the first team in school history to reach the 12-win mark, but the Volunteers had other plans in the schools' first ever meeting on the gridiron.
The game was tied 14-14 early in the fourth quarter, but thanks to two fourth-quarter field goals by Tennessee kicker Jeff Hall, the Volunteers were able to keep Ohio State from reaching 12 wins, defeating the Buckeyes, 20-14.
Ohio State running back and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George rushed for 101 yards and scored the game's first touchdown, but he was outperformed by Tennessee's Jay Graham. The Volunteer back ran the ball 26 times for 154 yards and scored on a 69-yard run with seconds remaining in the first half to tie the game at seven.
A sophomore named Peyton Manning was the starting quarterback for Tennessee. Apparently, he went on to be pretty good. He was 20-of-35 for 182 yards and a touchdown in the victory over the Buckeyes.
2001 Outback Bowl—South Carolina
In its first ever meeting with Ohio State, unranked South Carolina (7-4), led by coach Lou Holtz, defeated the No. 18 Buckeyes (8-3), 24-7, behind running back Ryan Brewer's stellar performance in the 2001 Outback Bowl.
Brewer accounted for 214 of the Gamecocks 401 total yards. Rushing for two touchdowns and catching another, Brewer ran the ball for 109 yards and caught three passes for 92 yards. He also had 13 return yards and was named the game's MVP.
The lone bright spot for Ohio State was touchdown in the third quarter, but even that wasn't pretty. Offensive guard Mike Gurr recovered a Jonathan Wells fumble in the end zone for the score.
The game was the last for John Cooper as Ohio State's head coach. His last bowl game ended the same way his first bowl game did—a 17-point loss to an SEC team.
2002 Outback Bowl—South Carolina
Different coach, same result.
Replacing John Cooper as coach of the Buckeyes, Jim Tressel led his (7-4) Ohio State team to the 2002 Outback Bowl in his first year. Standing in the way of his first bowl win was the same team Cooper was unable to defeat the year before—the South Carolina Gamecocks.
It didn't start out well. The No. 14 Gamecocks (8-3) scored the first 28 points of the game and were leading 28-0 before Buckeyes quarterback Steve Bellisari scored on a 1-yard touchdown run on the final play of the third quarter.
Finally getting on the board late in the third, No. 22 Ohio State lit up the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, scoring 28 unanswered points. The Buckeyes scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns, tying the game at 28 with 1:54 remaining.
Ripping out the hearts of Ohio State fans everywhere, South Carolina drove down the field for the game-winning 42-yard field goal by kicker Daniel Weaver, spoiling the comeback effort and Tressel's first bowl win, beating the Buckeyes, 31-28.
2007 BCS Championship Game—Florida
The third time wasn't a charm for the 2006 Ohio State Buckeyes. No. 2 Florida was the third second-ranked team that Ohio State had faced that season. The previous two were Texas and Michigan, and the Buckeyes won both.
Ohio State was ranked No. 1 and undefeated at 12-0. The Gators came into the championship game with a 12-1 record.
Everything started out good for the Buckeyes, as Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, giving the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead. However, 21 unanswered Florida points later, Ohio State found itself in a 21-7 hole.
Buckeyes running back Antonio Pittman closed the gap to 21-14 early in the second quarter with an 18-yard touchdown run, but that's all the points the Scarlet and Gray would put on the board. The Gators went into halftime with a 34-14 lead, and they added another score in the fourth by future Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.
In a truly disappointing performance, the Buckeyes were thrashed 41-14 by Florida in the 2007 BCS Championship Game, their eighth consecutive bowl loss to an SEC team.
2008 BCS Championship Game—LSU
Another year, another chance. That's how the 2007 Ohio State team viewed its match up with LSU in the 2008 BCS Championship Game.
Looking to rebound from an embarrassing loss the previous year to Florida in the title game, the No. 1 Buckeyes (11-1) jumped out to an early 10-0 lead on the No. 2 Tigers (11-2).
In similar fashion as the year before, after taking the early lead Ohio State allowed LSU to score 24 straight points to take the 24-10 halftime lead.
On their first possession in the second half, the Tigers picked up right were they left off, increasing their lead to 21. Quarterback Matt Flynn hooked up with Early Doucet for a four-yard touchdown pass, giving LSU a 31-10 lead.
The Buckeyes made the score a little more respectable, adding two scores of their own, but the Tigers scored another and sent Ohio State to its second-consecutive BCS Championship Game defeat, 38-24.
2011 Sugar Bowl—Arkansas?
On Jan. 4, the college football world will find out if the Buckeyes can buck the trend and finally take down an SEC team in a bowl game. Until they do, the national perception of the team, as well as the Big Ten, will be that they're no match for the juggernaut that is the SEC.
Although in the regular season Ohio State is 7-2-1 against SEC teams, giving it a 7-11-1 overall record against the SEC, another bowl loss to an SEC team would be devastating for the Buckeyes.