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Happy New Year: Buckeye Bowl Mania

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Great OSU bowl memories: Woody Hayes at 1974 Rose Bowl, Joe Gernaine at 1997 Rose Bowl, Jim Tressel after 2003 Fiesta Bowl and Terrelle Pryor at the 2010 Rose Bowl

We hope you are enjoying the college football bowl season – even if your beloved Ohio State Buckeyes are sitting this one out.

The folks at have devised a neat system where fans each December can make bowl picks and assign “confidence points” to those picks (1 points for least sure to 35 points for most certain). The fan who amasses the most confidence points through picking winners over the course of the bowl schedule can win their own pool among their friends.

In that same vein, I thought it might be neat to look back at OSU’s 43 past bowl appearances and assign numbers from 1 to 43 on the most important/most memorable games. Picking the top two games was easy. I went with the 2003 Fiesta Bowl national title win over Miami (Fla.) and the 1969 Rose Bowl national title win over USC.

Likewise, picking OSU’s two “worst” bowl appearances was easy. I went with the 2001 Outback Bowl loss to South Carolina and the 1990 Liberty Bowl loss to Air Force. One of them cost John Cooper his job, while the other one – 10 years earlier – probably should have.

Hopefully this look back at OSU’s past bowl triumphs and tragedies will bring back some neat memories.

Ohio State has an all-time bowl record of 20-23 (well, officially it’s 19-23 because OSU vacated the 2011 Sugar Bowl win over Arkansas due to NCAA sanctions). The Buckeyes have a 7-7 record all-time in the Rose Bowl and a 6-3 mark all-time in BCS bowls (since the 1998 season, and that includes the win over Arkansas).

Here is a look, from top to bottom, of OSU’s best and biggest bowl appearances down to its worst, followed by some bowl notables.

43 points. Jan. 3, 2003, Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State 31, Miami (Fla.) 24, 2 OT – This has to be the No. 1 game on this list. This could be, in fact, the greatest game in the history of not only Ohio State football but also all of college football. Put simply: Never has a game that meant so much been so good.

Miami had won 34 straight games and was a prohibitive 13-point favorite. But Ohio State led most of the way and finally finished the Hurricanes off with a great goal line stand in the second overtime. Coach Jim Tressel, QB Craig Krenzel, RB Maurice Clarett, DB Mike Doss and the rest became instant heroes as OSU ended its 34-year national championship drought.

42. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1969: Ohio State 27, USC 16 – For some older OSU fans, this game might be tops on their list. Woody Hayes, QB Rex Kern and the rest of the Super Sophs rallied from down 10-0 to defeat USC in the first match-up of unbeatens in the 22-year history of the Big Ten/Pac-8 arrangement at the Rose Bowl.

The Buckeyes outlasted USC and its Heisman Trophy winner O.J. Simpson to wrap up a 10-0 season and claim the national championship.

41. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1997: Ohio State 20, Arizona State 17 – OSU’s regular season loss to Michigan denied the Buckeyes a shot at the national title. But, with this dramatic win, OSU stopped No. 2 Arizona State from claiming at least a share of the title. QB Joe Germaine led the Buckeyes on a 12-play, 65-yard touchdown drive, hitting David Boston with the winning touchdown pass with 19 seconds left.

It was OSU’s first Rose Bowl win in 23 years.

40. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1958: Ohio State 10, Oregon 7 – Already proclaimed the national champions, Hayes’ Buckeyes took the measure of the Ducks with a fourth-quarter field goal by Don Sutherin.

39. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1955: Ohio State 20, USC 7 – This was Hayes’ first trip to the Rose Bowl as the OSU coach. The regular season ended up with OSU and UCLA as the co-national champions. UCLA was ineligible for the Rose Bowl, so OSU beat up on the Bruins’ rival, USC. QB Dave Leggett rushed for a touchdown and threw for one as well. The Buckeyes won the game on a rainy day in Pasadena.

38. Rose Bowl, Jan. 2, 1950: Ohio State 17, California 14 – Jimmy Hague kicked the game-winning 27-yard field goal with a scant 1:05 left to give the Buckeyes the dramatic win.

37. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1974: Ohio State 42, USC 21 – RB Archie Griffin had 149 yards and a touchdown and FB Pete Johnson scored three TDs as the Buckeyes avenged their loss from the year before to the Trojans with this decisive win.

36. Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2, 2006: Ohio State 34, Notre Dame 20 – This was just the fifth-ever meeting between the Buckeyes and the Fighting Irish. OSU took a 3-2 lead in the series with this win in Tempe, Ariz. QB Troy Smith threw for 342 yards and two TDs, while Ted Ginn Jr. had a 68-yard TD run and a 56-yard TD catch. Santonio Holmes added five catches for 124 yards, including an 85-yard TD grab.

The Buckeyes rolled up 617 yards total offense in the win and finished the year 10-2.

35. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 2010: Ohio State 26, Oregon 17 – The Buckeyes won the Rose Bowl for the first time in 13 years behind the play of game MVP Terrelle Pryor. The sophomore completed 23 of 37 passes for 266 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He also led Ohio State in rushing with 72 yards for 338 yards of total offense.

OSU held the ball for a Rose Bowl-record 41 minutes, 37 seconds. The OSU defense put the clamps on an Oregon offense that had averaged nearly 38 points per game during the regular season. Brandon Saine and DeVier Posey caught touchdown passes and Ross Homan had an interception.
34. Orange Bowl, Jan. 1, 1977: Ohio State 27, Colorado 10 – The Big Ten’s rule prohibiting teams from playing bowls besides the Rose Bowl had been lifted a few years earlier, permitting the Buckeyes to make their first bowl appearance outside Pasadena. This has been OSU’s only Orange Bowl appearance and it was memorable.

The Buckeyes rallied from down 10-0 to defeat the Big 12 champions behind QB Rod Gerald (81 yards rushing, one TD).

33. Sugar Bowl, Jan. 4, 2011: Ohio State 31, Arkansas 26 – This game was eventually vacated, but it was still a memorable evening as the Buckeyes earned their first bowl victory over an SEC team – even if that victory was fleeting. This was Tressel’s last game as the OSU head coach and Pryor’s last as the starting quarterback. He piled up 336 yards total offense and two passing touchdowns (one to Posey and one to Dane Sanzenbacher) as the Buckeyes led 28-7 in the third quarter and held on for the win.

Arkansas blocked an OSU punt late in the game and was driving for a potential game-winning score. But DE Solomon Thomas intercepted a pass from Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett with 58 seconds left to secure the dramatic win.

32. Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2, 1984: Ohio State 28, Pittsburgh 23 – This was another dramatic OSU bowl win as QB Mike Tomczak hit Thad Jemison with the game-winning 39-yard TD pass with 39 seconds left. Keith Byars also had a 99-yard kick return touchdown in this win.

31. Cotton Bowl, Jan. 1, 1987: Ohio State 28, Texas A&M 12 – Earle Bruce sported a suit and a Fedora hat for OSU’s first visit to this Dallas-based bowl. The Buckeyes went into Texas and beat the Aggies as LB Chris Spielman had a pair of interceptions, including one for a touchdown.

30. Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 2, 2004: Ohio State 35, Kansas State 28 – Krenzel threw for four touchdowns – two each to Holmes and Michael Jenkins – and OSU blocked a punt for a score as the Buckeyes grabbed a 35-14 lead and held on for the win.

29. Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1, 1999: Ohio State 24, Texas A&M 14 – In the first year of the BCS, a loss to Michigan State denied OSU a shot at the national title. Wisconsin got the Rose Bowl berth on a tiebreaker technicality, so OSU, ranked third nationally, was an at-large pick for the Sugar. Germaine threw for 222 yards and a score and OSU blocked a punt for a touchdown in wrapping up an 11-1 season and No. 2 finish.

28. Holiday Bowl, Dec. 30, 1993: Ohio State 28, BYU 21 – After a heartbreaking loss at Michigan cost the previously unbeaten Buckeyes the Rose Bowl and a shot at the national title, coach John Cooper promised a bowl win. That was quite a boast considering Cooper was winless in his first four bowl games with the school.

But he had Raymont Harris on his side. Harris bulled his way for 235 yards and three touchdowns. The OSU defense turned BYU away deep in OSU territory three times in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.

27. Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29, 2004: Ohio State 33, Oklahoma State 7 – QB Justin Zwick ably filled in for the suspended Smith and threw for 189 yards and a touchdown. Ginn also rushed for a score as the Buckeyes routed the Cowboys in their only visit to this San Antonio bowl.

26. Holiday Bowl, Dec. 17, 1982: Ohio State 47, BYU 17 – Tim Spencer rushed for 167 yards and two TDs and Jimmy Gayle added two TD runs as well as the Buckeyes routed BYU in their first-ever trip to this San Diego bowl.

25. Florida Citrus Bowl, Jan. 1, 1996: Tennessee 20, Ohio State 14 – These two teams were each ranked fourth in the final AP poll of the regular season. This game was played in a heavy downpour with the Vols, according to many, wearing illegal cleats to help with their traction.

Future star Peyton Manning threw for 182 yards and a touchdown as UT thwarted OSU, its Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George (101 yards, one TD) and QB Bobby Hoying (246 yards, one TD). The Buckeyes lost three fumbles and Hoying threw a pick in this messy game.

24. Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 5, 2009: Texas 24, Ohio State 21 – The Buckeyes snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. OSU trailed 17-6 after three quarters before rallying in the fourth quarter. OSU trailed 17-15 and had the ball. They could have held it for a winning touchdown or field goal in the final seconds. But Boom Herron scampered in from 15 yards out for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:05 left.

That left too much time on the clock for QB Colt McCoy and the Longhorns. McCoy, who threw for 414 yards with two touchdowns, drove Texas 78 yards in 11 plays as he hit Quan Cosby with the game-winning 26-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left. OSU safety Anderson Russell took a bad angle on the play. Texas ended up 12-1, while OSU was 10-3.

23. Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, 2002: South Carolina 31, Ohio State 28 – This was Tressel’s first bowl game as the OSU coach and things looked bleak as the Buckeyes fell behind USC 28-0. But QB Steve Bellisari came off the bench to lead a rally, throwing for 320 yards and two TDs. But a late Bellisari interception paved the way for the Gamecocks to win this thriller on Daniel Weaver’s 42-yard field goal as time expired.

22. Fiesta Bowl, Dec. 26, 1980: Penn State 31, Ohio State 19 – This was considered a big deal as these neighboring powers met on a neutral field in thousands of miles away in the desert. OSU built a 19-10 halftime lead behind QB Art Schlichter (302 yards, three TDs). But Penn State rallied with a big second half to get the win.

21. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1921: California 28, Ohio State 0 – Yes, this was a shutout defeat. But it was OSU’s first bowl game of any kind as well as the school’s first game ever on the West Coast. It would be 29 years until OSU’s next bowl game, but this game opened up new horizons for the program.

20. Liberty Bowl, Dec. 30, 1981: Ohio State 31, Navy 28 – OSU snapped a string of four straight bowl defeats with Schlichter playing the hero in his final game with 159 yards passing and two TDs.

19. Florida Citrus Bowl, Dec. 28, 1985: Ohio State 10, BYU 7 – LB Larry Kolic provided the margin of victory with his 14-yard interception return for a score in the third quarter of this otherwise blasé game.

18. Hall of Fame Bowl, Jan. 1, 1992: Syracuse 24, Ohio State 17 – OSU had momentum after Steve Tovar blocked a punt that Tito Paul recovered for a game-tying touchdown with 8:03 left. But Syracuse QB Marvin Graves hit Antonio Johnson with a 60-yard bomb less than a minute later for the game-winning score. Graves threw for 309 yards and two TDs, while OSU quarterback Kirk Herbstreit threw for 174 yards.

17. Florida Citrus Bowl, Jan. 1, 1993: Georgia 21, Ohio State 14 – RB Garrison Hearst lived up to his All-American billing with 163 yards and two touchdowns. Robert Smith countered with 112 yards and two TDs for the Buckeyes.

16. Florida Citrus Bowl, Jan. 2, 1995: Alabama 24, Ohio State 17 – Alabama broke a 17-17 tie as Jay Barker hit speedy Sherman Williams with a 50-yard touchdown pass with 42 seconds left. Hoying hit Joey Galloway for OSU’s two touchdowns.

15. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1985: USC 20, Ohio State 17 – Tomczak threw for 290 yards and a touchdown, but he also had three costly interceptions. Freshman Cris Carter had nine catches for a Rose Bowl-record 172 yards and a score.

14. Sugar Bowl, Jan. 1, 1998: Florida State 31, Ohio State 14 – Florida State’s speed was the main cause in OSU’s Sugar Bowl crash. FSU’s Thad Busby threw for 334 yards and a TD to E.G. Green. The Seminoles registered six sacks on OSU QBs Germaine and Stanley Jackson.

13. Hall of Fame Bowl: Jan. 1, 1990: Auburn 31, Ohio State 14 – This was Cooper’s first bowl game as the OSU coach and things looked good with a 14-10 halftime lead. But QB Reggie Slack was too much as he threw for three TDs and rushed for another for the Tigers.

12. BCS Championship Game, Jan. 7, 2008: LSU 38, Ohio State 24 – OSU jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead after a 65-yard touchdown run by Chris “Beanie” Wells. But a spate of turnovers and penalties paved the way for the Tigers to take the national title game win on what was basically their home turf in New Orleans. Wells finished with 146 yards on 20 carries, but OSU could not overcome five LSU sacks, five personal foul penalties and three turnovers.

11. Sugar Bowl, Jan. 2, 1978: Alabama 35, Ohio State 6 – This was OSU’s first Sugar Bowl appearance and the first-ever coaching match-up between Hayes and Alabama’s legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant. It was all Alabama as QB Jeff Rutledge threw for two scores.

10. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1975: USC 18, Ohio State 17 – OSU had lost a regular season game at Michigan State, but the Buckeyes came into this game at No. 3 and were firmly in the national title hunt. But USC QB Pat Haden snatched the win with his 38-yard TD pass to J.D. McKay and a two-point conversion pass to a diving Sheldon Diggs with 2:03 left.

9. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1973: USC 42, Ohio State 17 – The powerful Trojans wrapped up a national championship with this lopsided win over the Buckeyes. USC got four TD runs from Sam “Bam” Cunningham as well as 157 yards and a TD from Anthony Davis in the win.

8. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1980: USC 17, Ohio State 16 – This was another tight and bitter loss at the hands of USC at the Rose Bowl. Bruce was in his first year as the OSU head coach and his Buckeyes were unbeaten and ranked No. 1 coming in. Schlichter threw for 297 yards, including a 67-yard TD pass to Gary Williams.

But this was RB Charles White’s day. The USC back went for 247 yards on 39 carries and scored the game-winning 1-yard TD with just 1:32 left.

7. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1976: UCLA 23, Ohio State 10 – Unbeaten and top-ranked Ohio State was heavily favored to duplicate its regular season win over UCLA and claim the national title. But Bruins coach Dick Vermeil and his QB John Sciarra had other ideas. Sciarra threw for 212 yards and two scores in pulling off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the Rose Bowl.

6. Gator Bowl, Jan. 2, 2012: Florida 24, Ohio State 17 – OSU had already hired Urban Meyer as its new coach, although this was Luke Fickell’s last game as the coach in his one season in that job. Both teams were 6-6 and there was sentiment OSU should have self-imposed a bowl ban to possibly avoid one in 2012.

Florida’s defense and special teams ruled the day with six sacks, a blocked punt for a touchdown and a 99-yard kick return score by Andre Debose. Braxton Miller had two touchdown passes for OSU, which lost a fourth straight game to end the year and finished under .500 for the first time since 1988. OSU lost seven games in a year for the first time since 1897.

5. BCS Championship Game, Jan. 8, 2007: Florida 41, Ohio State 14 – Top-ranked Ohio State was unbeaten and had the Heisman Trophy winner in QB Troy Smith. When Ginn returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, it seemed like OSU would go on and claim its second national title under Tressel in five years.

But Florida’s smothering defense held the Buckeyes to an all-time BCS bowl record-low 82 yards total offense. Dueling QBs Chris Leak and Tim Tebow each threw TD passes and the freshman Tebow also ran for one as the Gators, a seven-point underdog, upset the Buckeyes and claimed the national title.

4. Gator Bowl, Dec. 29, 1978: Clemson 17, Ohio State 15 – This is a game that lives in infamy for Ohio State. Schlichter threw a late interception to Clemson’s Charlie Bauman. At the end of the play, Hayes slugged the celebrating Bauman on the sideline. Hours later, athletic director Hugh Hindman forced Hayes out as the OSU coach.

3. Rose Bowl, Jan. 1, 1971: Stanford 27, Ohio State 17 – This stands as one of OSU’s most bitter defeats as Hayes and his Buckeyes were shooting for a second national title in three seasons. But Stanford Heisman Trophy-winning QB Jim Plunkett threw for 265 yards and a touchdown.

The Cardinal thwarted OSU’s title bid despite the fact that Kern (129 yards) and RB John Brockington (101 yards, two TDs) each eclipsed the 100-yard mark and the Buckeyes had 380 yards rushing.

2. Outback Bowl, Jan. 1, 2001: South Carolina 24, Ohio State 7 – This stands as one of the most embarrassing efforts in OSU history. OSU was outplayed by heavy underdog USC, whose coach Lou Holtz got his first win over the Buckeyes in five tries. Ohio native Ryan Brewer piled up 214 all-purpose yards and three TDs in leading the Gamecocks to the win.

OSU athletic director Andy Geiger, six weeks after giving Cooper a public vote of confidence at the team’s banquet, was so distressed over this performance he sent the team buses ahead to the airport and spent an hour roaming the streets near Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. He conferred with OSU president Brit Kirwan and, a day later, cited a “deteriorating climate” in the program in announcing that Cooper had been fired after 13 years on the job.

1. Liberty Bowl, Dec. 27, 1990: Air Force 23, Ohio State 11 – To lose a bowl to an SEC team like South Carolina is one thing. But to lose to a military academy team in a bowl game on a cold and dreary night in Memphis, well, that’s something else entirely.

Air Force led 13-5 after three quarters before OSU trimmed the gap to 13-11 on Robert Smith’s 29-yard TD run. The Falcons tacked on a field goal and an interception return for a score of a Greg Frey pass to win going away. OSU gained just 214 yards total offense, while Air Force used its wishbone to pile up 254 yards rushing.

Some OSU Bowl Notables

* By not playing in a bowl this season, OSU’s string of consecutive bowl appearances was snapped at 12 straight years (technically, 10 years if you discount the 2011 Sugar Bowl).

OSU’s longest consecutive bowl string is 15 seasons between 1972-86. OSU also went to 10 straight bowls between 1989-98.

* Sixteen of OSU’s last 17 bowl appearances have been in January. The lone exception in that period, dating to 1993, was the 2004 appearance in the Alamo Bowl.

Ohio State’s all-time record on Jan. 1 is 9-14.

OSU’s earliest bowl date ever was in the 1982 Holiday Bowl against BYU on Dec. 17. The latest bowl date was the 2007 national title game against Florida on Jan. 8.

* The Buckeyes are 6-3 in nine previous BCS bowl appearances since that format came online with the 1998 season. OSU has appeared in more BCS bowl games than any other school, although the “official total” of eight (discounting the 2011 Sugar) ties OSU with Oklahoma at eight appearances. USC has been in seven BCS games, although officially that total is five.

Florida and Florida State will move into a tie for third all-time with their seventh BCS appearances this January.

* OSU’s all-time Rose Bowl record is 7-7. The Buckeyes are also 4-2 all-time in the Fiesta Bowl, 2-2 in the Sugar Bowl and 1-0 in the Orange Bowl. OSU is 0-2 in the BCS national championship game.

Keep in mind, up until 1975 Big Ten teams were permitted to play only in the Rose Bowl. OSU has played in 12 different bowl games.

The rest of OSU’s records by bowl: Gator, 0-2; Liberty, 1-1; Holiday, 2-0; Citrus/Capital One, 1-3; Cotton, 1-0; Hall of Fame/Outback, 0-4; Alamo, 1-0.

* OSU’s largest margin of victory in a bowl game is 30 points with the 47-17 win over BYU in the 1982 Liberty Bowl. The largest margin of defeat in a bowl game is 29 points in the 35-6 loss to Alabama in the 1978 Sugar Bowl.

* Some individual bowl game records for OSU:

Rushing Yardage – Raymont Harris, 235 yards, vs. BYU, 1993 Holiday Bowl

Touchdowns – Raymont Harris, 3, vs. BYU, 1993 Holiday Bowl

Passing – Troy Smith, 342 yards, vs. Notre Dame, 2006 Fiesta Bowl

Touchdown Passes – Craig Krenzel, 4, vs. Kansas State, 2004 Fiesta Bowl

Receptions – David Boston, 11, vs. Texas A&M, 1999 Sugar Bowl

Receiving Yardage – Cris Carter, 172, vs. USC, 1985 Rose Bowl

Field Goals – Mike Nugent, 4, vs. Oklahoma State, 2004 Alamo Bowl

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