Lost in the shuffle of Saturday's tough loss to Michigan State is something that's actually pretty impressive: Ohio State has an opportunity to be one of only two FBS schools that can win the Rose, Orange, Fiesta, and Sugar Bowls in the BCS era. The other school? The Oklahoma Sooners.
They both make strong cases for having a more impressive feat between the two, but I would make the argument that if both Oklahoma and OSU win their respective games, OSU's is a more impressive of an accomplishment than Oklahoma, for a couple reasons.
First, let's look at the resumes, shall we? Oklahoma is playing in their ninth BCS game, Ohio State their 10th. Oklahoma is 3-5 in BCS games, while the Buckeyes are 6-3. OSU has won all the BCS games except the Orange Bowl, which they play in this year, and for the first time since 1977. They won the Fiesta Bowl three times in a four year stretch from 2003-2006 (the 2003 game doubled as the national championship), the Sugar Bowl twice, in 1999 and 2011, and the 2010 Rose Bowl.Oklahoma won the 2001 Orange Bowl, the 2003 Rose Bowl, and the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.
Let's get the national championship stuff out of the way first, because that's a push, and eerily so. Both Oklahoma's and OSU's lone titles in the BCS era were huge upset wins for the respective schools. Oklahoma beat Florida State 13-2 in the 2001 Orange Bowl, and the Bob 'Big Game' Stoops moniker was born. We all know OSU's story, and I would contend that was even a bigger upset. For my money, and no disrespect to what Oklahoma accomplished, but the 2003 Fiesta Bowl was also the Greatest College Football Game Ever Played.
But, both the Sooners and Buckeyes got throttled in BCS title games, causing giving black eyes to each school. Oklahoma has lost three BCS title games, including back to back in '04 and '05, the latter a 55-14 pasting at the hands of USC. And the Buckeyes had a similar fate, losing back to back in the '07 and 08 games, getting pasted 41-14 in the former. Overall, Oklahoma is 1-3 in title games whils OSU is 1-2.
Although Oklahoma and OSU each have a national title in the BCS era, OSU has the better overall BCS record. As a matter of fact, regardless of how the Orange Bowl turns out against Clemson, Ohio State will do no worse than tie for the most BCS bowl game wins in the era, with six. A win will give them an impressive 7-3 BCS record, while an Oklahoma win in the Sugar Bowl would still leave them below .500, at 4-5.
When you look at the BCS record, and then break down the opponents, the Buckeyes come out looking better there, too. The Sooners lost back to back Fiesta Bowls in '07 and '08 to Boise State and West Virginia, two teams Boomer Sooner should've handled. They finally broke their five game BCS losing streak by beating UConn in 2011. UConn was about the most unworthy BCS team ever, to be honest, and if you were to look up the term 'slump buster' in the dictionary, you'd see a picture of the 2010 UConn football team. And while OSU avoided an upset by Kansas State, they throttled an evenly matched Notre Dame team, stifled an Oregon team most people thought would run OSU out of Pasadena, and beat a high powered Arkansas team that was the SEC runner up.
Finally, OSU has racked up this BCS resume under three coaches. John Cooper was at the helm when the BCS era began, and he lead OSU to a fairly easy win over Texas A and M in the 1999 Sugar Bowl. The Sooners wouldn't get to their first BCS game until 2001, when they beat Florida State is Stoops' second year. Jim Tressel guided Ohio State to the rest of their BCS wins, and now, Urban Meyer is at the helm to close out Ohio State in the BCS era. Those are three very different coaches, with two very turbulent periods during the coaching turnover, yet still, that's a pretty remarkable run of consistency. For a lot of teams, there can be a considerable period of transition, yet after Cooper left in 2000, Tressel was in the BCS and won the title in his second year. After Tressel was fired, Ohio State bounced back with a 24 game winning streak, and had it not been for a bowl ban last year, Meyer would be getting ready for his second BCS game as OSU coach in as many years.
For the Sooners, it's been Bob Stoops the entire time. Oklahoma is one of the most stable, well run, and consistent programs in America, and Stoops has been there through it all. At the beginning of the BCS era, in the 1998 season, John Blake was the coach, and lead the Sooners to a very forgettable 5-6 season. Stoops was named coach for the '99 season, and Oklahoma hasn't looked back. He went 7-5 his first year, and won the national title in his second, just like Tressel. But their 'down years', 2001, 2005, and 2009 ended up in Holiday, Cotton, and Sun Bowl wins. OSU's down years were marked by turmoil, turnover, and a completely new coaching philosophy. Not once, but twice.
This bowl season, both Oklahoma and Ohio State have a chance to accomplish something no other schools will be able to lay claim to. While I think OSU's resume would be a little bit better, it's too bad that they won't be playing each other to settle the matter once and for all.