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Some Ohio State football losses hurt more than others

Ohio State hasn’t lost many games over the last two decades, which makes them even tougher to stomach when they happen.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 28 CFP Semifinal at the Fiesta Bowl - Clemson v Ohio State Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

I wish I could say that I was born a Buckeye, but I can’t claim that since I was born and raised in Western New York. Because of that, my Buckeye fandom started later than most. While I remember some of the John Cooper years, 2002 was when I really dove into being an Ohio State, as I was helped by a friend from home who was attending Ohio State.

As I close in on two decades as a Buckeye fan, I have seen two national titles and a lot of other really great wins. Look at what Ohio State has done since Jim Tressel took over and it’s not very often that the Buckeyes lose multiple games in a season. That’s why when Ohio State does suffer a loss, it hurts.

Some losses hurt a lot more than others, which is why I’m going to dive into the 10 most painful losses that I’ve seen as an Ohio State fans. While I can’t say that any of these losses made me cry, they certainly did make me feel pretty awful. I’m just glad that I’m not a Michigan fan where I’d have to get used to seeing my team lose three or four games a year.


1) 29-23 loss to Clemson - 2019 Fiesta Bowl/College Football Playoff Semifinal

Two undefeated titans battled in Glendale for the right to take on LSU in the title game, but Ohio State had to battle more than just Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers in this game. The Buckeyes jumped out to a 16-0 lead but it really should have been more after J.K. Dobbins dropped a pass that would have certainly been a touchdown had the running back hauled it in.

Clemson’s comeback began when Shaun Wade was ejected for targeting for a hit on Trevor Lawrence. Not only did the Buckeyes lose Wade, but the penalty on third down gave Clemson a first down, which they would soon turn into points. Ohio State also was called for roughing the punter in the first half.

As if those two calls weren’t enough help to Clemson, the Buckeyes loked like they had stripped the football from Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross and returned it for a touchdown, but replay officials ruled the pass incomplete. Of all the calls to go against Ohio State in this game, this was the most egregious.

Ohio State was able to take the lead back on a Chris Olave touchdown catch but the Buckeyes couldn’t make the lead stick. Clemson answered with a touchdown of their own before Justin Fields threw a rare interception with the game on the line.

Not only was the loss tough to handle because Ohio State still has never defeated Clemson, but it also deprived the country of Ohio State squaring off with former quarterback Joe Burrow. The Buckeyes deserved better in 2019 and now the pressure is even higher in 2020 because of the loss to Clemson.


2) 41-14 loss to Florida - 2007 BCS National Championship Game

Ohio State had just one more hurdle to clear before they could cap off 2006 undefeated and claim their second national title under Jim Tressel. All that was standing in the way of Ohio State was Urban Meyer, who campaigned for his Florida Gators to get a shot at the Buckeyes instead of Michigan, who took Ohio State down to the wire.

There seemed like there was six months in between the Michigan game and the national title game, which gave Troy Smith time to take a few spins on the banquet circuit, as he took home the Heisman Trophy and a number of other major awards. Ohio State entered the game as a touchdown favorite, which made the result even more shocking.

Things looked good early for Ohio State when Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff for the Buckeyes, but that was the last thing to go right for Ohio State, as Ginn was injured in the celebration. Florida would go on to pick apart Ohio State, closing out the career of many talented Buckeyes in disappointment.


3) 25-22 loss to Texas - 2005

This is the regular season loss that hits me hardest, since it was just the second Ohio State game I had ever attended, and the first night game. I left the game with no voice as I had spent four quarters screaming as loud as I could. My voice didn’t end up coming back for about a week after the game. It also didn’t help that I was sitting near the Texas band, so I had their fight song in my head for about two weeks after the game.

This was the year that Texas went on to win the national title with Vince Young at quarterback. I always wonder what would have happened in this game if Tressel wasn’t playng musical chairs at quarterback with Justin Zwick and Troy Smith, who was suspended for the first game of the season. Also, how would the season had played out if Ryan Hamby hadn’t dropped the football.


4) 17-14 loss to Michigan State - 2015

The weather in Columbus was terrible for this game and Ohio State’s offensive gameplan was even worse. I know the Buckeyes were going up against a very stout Michigan State defense, which is a major reason why Ohio State couldn’t find any traction on offense in the game, but how can you not give the football to your best player?

If Ohio State just feeds Ezekiel Elliott a little bit more, they go on to the playoff for the second consecutive year and it’s very likely that we see them match up with Alabama again. Instead, Ohio State has to settle for another Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame. Not that beating Notre Dame ever gets old, Ohio State just had the potential for so much more.


5) 28-21 loss to Illinois - 2007

This was another Ohio State loss at Ohio Stadium that I had to sit through. Even though I had plenty of liquid assistance prior to the game, it didn’t help how this game made me feel. If you remember the days of 4 Kegs then you remember Liquid Dope. Why do I mention this? A roommate at the time had the recipe for it, so I made Liquid Dope....by doing a shot of each ingredient before the game. That was the only thing that went right.

On this Saturday in November, Ohio State saw their 28-game regular season winning streak snapped, as Illinois won their first game against a #1 ranked team since 1956. Todd Boeckman threw three interceptions in the loss for Ohio State, while Juice Williams and Rashard Mendenhall ran 27 plays in Illinois’ last two drives to secure the victory.


6) 40-34 loss to Michigan - 2011

Losses to Michigan these days are extremely rare. The lone win for the Wolverines over the Buckeyes came in 2011 when Luke Fickell was Ohio State’s interim coach and Braxton Miller was just a true freshman quarterback. Even with the down year that was sandwiched between the end of Jim Tressel’s reign in Columbus and the beginning of the Urban Meyer era, the Buckeyes still nearly beat That Team Up North.

The Game was wildly entertaining in 2011 with Ohio State holding a 24-23 halftime lead and never trailing the Wolverines by more than 10 in the game. All that matters though is Michigan was able to snap a seven-game Ohio State winning streak in the rivalry. The Wolverines should be lucky, because if they hadn’t beaten Ohio State in Ann Arbor in 2011, the Buckeyes could very well be riding a 16-game winning streak right now over the maize and blue.


7) 55-24 loss to Iowa - 2017

Ohio State entered this game coming off an incredible 39-38 comeback win over Penn State the week before. This game just felt off from the beginning, with J.T. Barrett throwing a pick-6 on the game’s first play. Things wouldn’t get better the rest of the day for Ohio State. Barrett would go on to throw four interceptions in the game, and Nick Bosa was ejected in the first half for targeting. The Hawkeyes waived goodbye to the Buckeyes pretty early in this one, leaving only sadness for fans of the scarlet and gray.


8) 49-20 loss to Purdue - 2018

After watching Ohio State get throttled on the road last year by Iowa, you would think that Urban Meyer would have had his team ready to go under the lights against Purdue. I feel like a fool for believing in Ohio State here. There was some warning signs but the Buckeyes hadn’t played anyone coming into this game who could exploit the defensive issues of Ohio State.

David Blough and Rondale Moore wore out the Buckeyes in this game, while Dwayne Haskins was forced to throw the football 73 times in the loss. What hurt so much about this loss was Ohio State was undefeated, and this was the only loss they suffered in 2018. Had Ohio State taken care of business, who knew what could’ve happened for the Buckeyes in playoff.


9) 34-27 loss to Nebraska - 2011

This game was really funny for a half. With 10 minutes to go in the third quarter Ohio State led Nebraska 27-6 and it was looking like the Buckeyes were going to be successful in their first trip to Lincoln. Then Braxton Miller sprained his ankle and the game immediately changed.

Enter Joe Bauserman, who completed more passes to the Nebraska crowd than to Ohio State receivers. Bauserman finished the game with just one completion in 10 attempts. The Cornhuskers would go on to score 28 unanswered points in the second half to secure their only win against Ohio State. I know 2011 was a weird year for Ohio State with what “Tatgate” did to the program, but even with everything they were missing, the Buckeyes should have closed this game out.


10) 35-21 loss to Virginia Tech - 2014

The loss to the Hokies wouldn’t have been as painful if you would have told me at the time that Ohio State was going to go on and win the College Football Playoff. This was just J.T. Barrett’s second start at quarterback, and he couldn’t get comfortable because Ohio State’s offensive line was dreadful against Bud Foster’s defense.

The only good thing about this game was that I watched it at Out-R-Inn. At least there were a few festive hours at my favorite campus bar prior to the game. Once it became obvious Ohio State wasn’t going to win this game, I started wondering about what other losses I might have to endure in 2014. Thankfully I was wrong about where the program was heading that year.


Honorable mentions:

  • 38-24 2008 BCS National Championship Game loss to LSU
  • 18-15 loss to USC in 2009
  • 34-24 2013 Big Ten Championship Game loss to Michigan State
  • 24-21 loss to Penn State in 2016