Losses are never fun. Luckily Ohio State football fans don’t have to deal with many of them. Since 2012, the Buckeyes have only lost 12 games, with seven of those losses coming the regular season. When you rarely lose games, the ones that you lose are usually going to be memorable and hit a little harder.
Saturday’s loss 35-28 loss to Oregon was Ohio State’s first regular season loss under Ryan Day. The last time the Buckeyes lost a regular season game came all the way back in 2018 when they went to West Lafayette and were blown out by Purdue. The last Ohio State loss at home was in 2017 when Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma beat the Buckeyes.
There are some losses that resonate more than others. Obviously losses in the conference title games, bowl games, and national title games are going to hurt more than others because there is more on the line. Because of that, we are going to disqualify any of those losses from today’s question. We are only going to include losses in the regular season.
Today’s question: What Ohio State regular season loss hurt you the most?
We’d love to hear your choices. Either respond to us on Twitter at @Landgrant33 or leave your choice in the comments.
Brett’s answer: 2015 to Michigan State
The only thing that kept Ohio State from having a shot at winning back-to-back national titles was this debacle in Columbus. Not only did the Buckeyes enter this game 10-0, they were also taking on a Michigan State team that was without starting quarterback Connor Cook. Ohio State entered the game as a two touchdown favorite.
Rainy and windy weather certainly didn’t help Ohio State in the game. You would think the simple thing to do in those conditions would be to give the Michigan State defense a steady dose of Ezekiel Elliott. Apparently Urban Meyer, Ed Warinner, and Tim Beck didn’t think the same way. Elliott only carried the football 12 times and saw his 15 game streak of rushing for at least 100 yards snapped.
Not that Michigan State’s defense was easy to have success against, Ohio State should have just had a better plan on how to attack the Spartans. There was absolutely no originality in the game plan. The Buckeyes finished the game with 132 yards of offense, which was the lowest total for an Urban Meyer-coached team.
What made the loss even more frustrating was how Ohio State performed in their final two games of the season. The Buckeyes went on to beat Michigan 42-13 in Ann Arbor the following week, followed by a 44-28 win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Michigan State went on to win in the Big Ten Championship Game, but were shutout 38-0 by Alabama in the CFP semifinal.
Had Ohio State been able to defeat Michigan State, it likely would have seen the Buckeyes enter the College Football Playoff as the top seed. Their opponent in the semifinal would have been Oklahoma, with the winner of Clemson/Alabama waiting in the title game.
Even though the 2014 Ohio State team won the title, the 2015 was more talented in my opinion. The only thing that kept that from the title was that Michigan State game. This loss was worse for me than the Iowa and Purdue losses later during Meyer’s time with the Buckeyes. Those teams were good, but you knew they weren’t quite as talented as the 2015 team. For me 2015 was a wasted year for Ohio State, which is crazy to say considering the Buckeyes went 12-1.
Meredith’s answer: 2003 to Wisconsin
When I think of painful regular season losses, I have to go in the way back machine, because there really aren’t all that many to choose from. And frankly, when I think back even to this past week to the Buckeyes’ loss to Oregon, I’m somewhat comforted by the fact it feels similar in some ways to Ohio State’s 2014 non-conference week two loss to Virginia Tech. We all know how that turned out.
For the purpose of discussion this week, we’re going to take it way back to 2003. Ohio State was coming off an undefeated season and a national title over Miami (FL).
Winners of 19-straight games, the then-No. 3 Buckeyes waltzed into Camp Randall Stadium to face No. 23 Wisconsin.
It was a knock-down, drag-out contest. The Buckeyes had made their mark as a stout defensive team, and had successfully contained Wisconsin’s rushing attack, but still entered the fourth quarter down 10-3. A sustained, 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by a six-yard pass from quarterback Craig Krenzel to wide receiver Michael Jenkins, tied things up in the final minutes.
Then Wisconsin did the impossible — well, the improbable. It also happens to be something that feels improbable for the Badgers of today: Quarterback Matt Schabert, who came in in place of an injured Jim Sorgi, threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Lee Evans with 5:55 remaining in regulation.
The Buckeyes couldn’t come back. Ohio State fell 17-10.
This particular loss sticks out as painful because it had been so long since the Buckeyes had lost, and as an arrogant Ohio State fan, it was easy to pick the Buckeyes to repeat as title contenders. Wisconsin saw that ego and firmly knocked Ohio State out. To 13-year-old me, it had felt like the Buckeyes would secure a win they had for the previous year-plus — with solid defense and a miraculous fourth-quarter score.
I remember being in total disbelief after the game, convinced that it had all been a strange dream (it had been a 9 p.m. ET kickoff, after all). But of course, like the rest of Buckeye nation, I had to stomach the loss, and realize that, alas, my team was not invincible after all.