While it is “What If” week here at LGHL, today we aren’t going to ask what would have happened had a result or performance gone a different way for the Buckeyes. Instead. we are just going to stick with straight up pain and anger.
There have been many games over the years that stick in our memory just because of how tough the final result was to stomach. Back-to-back BCS Championship Game losses in the 2006 and 2007 seasons. Also, back-to-back losses in the national title games in football and basketball to Florida in a four-month span in early 2007. Losing in the Final Four to Kansas in 2012, followed by a loss to Wichita State in the Elite Eight in 2013 when the Shockers were a nine-seed. Those are just a few of the many heartbreaking setbacks for the Buckeyes.
Today’s question: What is the Ohio State game that still haunts you?
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: The 25-22 loss to Texas in 2005
September 2005 was when I moved to Columbus to attend Ohio State. I had been down here in 2002 for the weekend of the Michigan game, but I didn’t actually attend the game. Since our lease didn’t start until Sept. 15, for the first two games of the year I drove down from Western New York and stayed in hotels for the weekend and attended the games, with my first-ever Buckeye game being the season opener against Miami (OH).
Obviously there was a lot more juice for the Texas game, especially with it being under the lights. I remember the day being one of the 90-degree days where there was barely any clouds in the sky, which made those sudsy beverages go down so smooth. In the afternoon Notre Dame and Michigan tangled, which made for some fun tailgate entertainment. The Fighting Irish downed the third-ranked Wolverines, 17-10.
Ohio State had an extremely talented team under Jim Tressel, but there was a lot of uncertainty at quarterback after Troy Smith was suspended for the season opener for taking money from a booster. While Justin Zwick was a serviceable quarterback, it was obvious that Troy Smith brought a different element to the offense. Had Smith not been suspended for the opener, it would’ve been who should’ve been starting for the Buckeyes.
I had a great seat for the game, sitting in either 4A or 6A. The only downside is I was sitting near the Texas band. I only heard the Texas fight song about 74,000 times during the game, and I had it stuck in my head for like a week after. Add in screaming so much during the game that I had no voice for a number of days after the game, I was quite a mess when I headed back to New York on Sunday.
Not only was I exhausted physically in the days after the game, I was totally worn out mentally. Texas took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but Ohio State fought back and went into halftime with a 16-13. It should have been a bigger lead though, as Ohio State had to trot Josh Huston out for three field goals, with two of them coming inside 40 yards.
The missed opportunities loomed even larger with Texas having Vince Young at quarterback. We all saw how great Young was throughout the 2005 season, which ended in a thrilling comeback win over USC in the BCS National Championship Game. Ohio State was able to get to Young at times though, picking off two of his passes in the game.
The most heartbreaking moment came in the third quarter, when Ryan Hamby dropped a pass in the end zone. The Buckeyes kicked a field goal to take a 22-16 lead, but had Hamby scored it would have given Ohio State a two-score lead, which is something they never had in the game. Texas would make the Buckeyes pay for not having that killer instinct, as Vince Young found Limas Sweed for a 24-yard touchdown with 2:37 left in the game.
Who knows if Ohio State would have went to the BCS National Championship Game had they beat Texas, especially since Penn State beat the Buckeyes in early October in State College. Ohio State still had a great season, beating Michigan and finishing the regular season 10-2 after a win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
The loss to Texas hurt a lot since it was so early in my time as a Buckeye, and I felt like a bit of a jinx because I had plenty of Buffalo sports failures that I had lived through as a fan. Obviously this is a loss that will stick with me forever, not only because it was such a storied game between two elite college football programs, but it hurt even more because I was there, and it was my first huge Ohio State game that I was in attendance for.
Meredith’s answer: The 41-14 loss to Florida in 2007
There are a few games that readily come to mind when I think of soul crushing losses (and yes, 2005 versus Texas, which I attended while in high school, is one of them). The 2015 loss to Michigan State — a sad, rainy affair where Ezekiel Elliott anticlimactically shared that he’d be entering the draft after the season — was another.
However, the one game that sticks out in my mind as a formative, draining experience, was the 2007 BCS National Championship game between Ohio State and Florida. It was a painful game in many ways, not the least of which was that it seemed like Ohio State would literally run away with things after Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff — only to sit out the rest of the game after getting injured following the play. It would be the last play of Ginn’s storied collegiate career. It also didn’t help that Troy Smith, who’d won the Heisman Trophy that season, had one of the worst games of his own college career.
On the other sideline, nevermind that Urban Meyer was coaching the Gators and that eventually Ohio State would get the better end of that deal. It didn’t make watching the 41-14 (*cringe*) loss any easier, even in hindsight. Meanwhile, it was so easy to dislike Tim Tebow in his freshman season, and the fact he continued to linger at Florida and in the NFL for seemingly decades after this game was like a consistent sprinkling of salt in the wound.
It didn’t help that in the year following, in what would have seemed a prime opportunity for redemption for the Buckeyes, Ohio State was once again trounced by another SEC program in LSU in the same title game.
Of course, because sometimes misery inspires change, that loss to Florida was probably the first step to the evolution of Ohio State’s program from the bigger, slower teams which had been successful in the early 2000s to the faster game we’ve come to know.
If only it didn’t take a 41-14 loss to get the process started.