Ohio State's SEC Struggles

01
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1993 Citrus Bowl: Georgia 21, Ohio State 14

1993 Citrus Bowl
Recognize this guy? ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbsteit was once an Ohio State quarterback, and like several other Buckeye signalcallers, he fell at the hands of an SEC foe. Georgia beat his team 21-14 in 1993 Citrus Bowl. Scott Halleran / Allsport

Ohio State has had its difficulties when playing SEC teams in bowl games. Not even the most die-hard Ohio State fan could deny it: The Buckeyes, historically, have had a dismal record against the SEC. Ohio State's struggles against the SEC date to 1978, when they were pummeled by Alabama, 35–6, in the Sugar Bowl. Still, Ohio State may be bouncing back: The school beat Arkansas, 31–26, in the 2011 Sugar Bowl, but the Buckeyes had to vacate the victory later that year under a cloud of NCAA sanctions. Ohio State even managed a degree of revenge, beating Alabama 42–35 in the 2015 Sugar Bowl on the way to winning the national championship that year.

Read on to learn about Ohio State's losses—and some recent successes—against SEC bowl opponents.

02
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1995 Citrus Bowl: Alabama 24, Ohio State 17

1995 Citrus Bowl
Bobby Hoying and the Buckeye offense were stymied by a good 'Bama defense in the 1995 Citrus Bowl. The Buckeyes had high hopes coming into this one, too, as they had beaten Michigan in the regular season finale (a rarity in the John Cooper years). Andy Lions/ALLSPORT

Ohio State lost to SEC opponent Auburn, 31–14, in the 1990 Hall of Fame Bowl followed by a loss to Georgia, 21–14, in the 1993 Florida Citrus Bowl. Ohio State's next trip to the Citrus Bowl was in 1995 when it lost to Alabama 24–17. Ohio State was actually leading the game 14–7 late in the second quarter, but the Crimson Tide managed to knot the score at 14 just before the half. The game remained tied through a scoreless third quarter. After each team kicked a field goal in the final period, the game remained tied, 17–17, late in the quarter. But Alabama scored the winning touchdown with only 42 seconds remaining in the game when Crimson Tide quarterback Jay Barker hit Sherman Williams for a 50-yard touchdown reception and a 24–17 Crimson Tide victory, continuing Ohio State's SEC curse.

03
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1996 Citrus Bowl: Tennessee 20, Ohio State 14

1996 Citrus Bowl
After winning 11 straight to start the 1995 season, the Buckeyes were upset by Michigan. Instead of playing for the national title, then, they ended up in the Citrus. Not surprisingly, they didn't play like they wanted to be there. Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Ohio State came into the Citrus Bowl with a 10–1 record, having lost its only regular season game 31-23 to rival, the Michigan Wolverines. That game was considered an upset, and that lone loss cost Ohio State a chance to play in the Rose Bowl—and for the national championship. Instead, Ohio State was matched up against SEC rival Tennessee, which also came into the game having posted a 10–1 regular-season record. Still, the Ohio State curse vs. SEC teams in bowl games continued, and it lost a close one to Tennessee. The game was actually tied 7–7 at halftime, but the Volunteers scored 13 points in the second half against only seven for Ohio State.

04
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2002 Outback Bowl: South Carolina 31, Ohio State 28

In Jim Tressel's first bowl at Ohio State, his Buckeyes fell behind, 28-0, then rallied to tie it up, only to lose on a late field goal. The loss was the second straight Outback Bowl defeat the Buckeyes had suffered against South Carolina. Scott Halleran/Getty Images

This game was actually a rematch of the 2001 Outback Bowl, when South Carolina—led by legendary coach Lou Holz—had blown out Ohio State, 24–7. Though the 2002 game was much closer with Ohio State losing by just three points, the result was the same—an Ohio State loss to an SEC bowl opponent. The Gamecocks led 28–0 late in the third quarter, and the game looked to be another blowout. But, Ohio State made a furious comeback attempt, scoring a touchdown in the third quarter and 21 points in the fourth. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, South Carolina managed a single field goal in the fourth quarter, and those three points were enough for the win.

05
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2007 BCS Championship: Florida 41, Ohio State 14

2007 BCS Championship
Even with Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith running the show, the Buckeyes couldn't do anything against a ferocious and fast Florida defense. The blowout loss stunned Buckeyes and national pundits alike. Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Ohio State had not lost a game in the 2006 season, earning the chance to play for the national championship in the title game at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on Jan. 8, 2007. Ohio State was even named the country's No. 1 team in both the coaches and Associated Press polls as well as in the Bowl Championship Series rankings. Florida, by contrast, came into the game 12–1 record, having lost to Auburn during the regular season. Nevertheless, the Gators trounced the Buckeyes, winning the national championship. Ironically, Florida's coach at the time was Urban Myer, who would later go on to coach Ohio State's football team.

06
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2008 BCS Championship: LSU 38, Ohio State 24

After Ohio State jumped out to an early 10-0 lead, it seemed their SEC troubles were over. Then LSU rattled of 31 unanswered points and the Tiger defense swarmed over Buckeye quarterback Todd Boeckman. The end result? More misery for Ohio State fans.

The year saw Ohio State post another No. 1 ranking coming into the BCE championship, while its SEC opponent again came in ranked No. 2: It made little difference as the result was the same. Many sports analysts had predicted that Ohio State would finally grab the national title this year. Indeed, Ohio State actually led 10–0 after the first quarter. "Things had to look easy at this point for Ohio State, seeing as how the Buckeyes gave up just a nation-leading average of 10.0 points per game (during the regular season)," noted the Allstate Sugar Bowl website. "This one, to some, must have seemed over." But, it was not to be: The LSU Tigers, with an 11–2, record coming into the bowl game, handily defeated the Buckeyes, securing the win with a 21-point second quarter.

07
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2011 Sugar Bowl: Ohio State 31, Arkansas 26

Ohio State seemingly broke its SEC bowl curse in the 2011 Sugar Bowl, outscoring Arkansas  28–10 in the first half. But, even this game—which the Buckeyes had seemed to have well in hand—turned into a nailbiter as the Razorbacks made a comeback attempt in the second half, putting up 16 second-half points, compared to just three for the Buckeyes. Still, Ohio State won the game, finally succeeding against an SEC bowl opponent.

08
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2012 Gator Bowl: Florida 24, Ohio State 17

Though the teams were ranked much lower than in their previous meeting for the 2007 BCS championship game, this game was essentially a rematch, pitting Ohio State against yet another SEC opponent in a bowl game. And, the teams were tied 7–7 late in the first half. But, the Gators outstanding special teams play—including a kickoff returned for a touchdown and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown—led to a Florida win and a continuation of Ohio State's difficulty in matching up with SEC opponents in bowl games.

09
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2015 Sugar Bowl: Ohio St 42, Alabama 35

All State Sugar Bowl - Alabama vs Ohio State
Michael Thomas #3 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the All State Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 1, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Dec. 31, 2014 - Source: Stacy Revere/Getty Images North America)

Ohio State turned the tables on the SEC in the 2015 Sugar Bowl. The Buckeyes came into the Jan. 1 game ranked No. 4 in the AP poll, No. 4 in the coaches poll and No. 4 in the Bowl Championship Series ranking. By contrast, Alabama was ranked No. 1 across the board. This game was not for the national championship; it was one of two games in a mini-tournament that would determine which squads would play for the national title. After knocking off Alabama, Ohio State earned a spot in the national title game, where it easily defeated the Oregon Ducks ​​42–20.

10
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2016 Fiesta Bowl: Clemson Tigers 31, Ohio State 0

Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on against the Maryland Terrapins during a game at Ohio Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio.
Head coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on against the Maryland Terrapins during a game at Ohio Stadium on October 10, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Joe Robbins | Getty Images Sport

Though Ohio State had seemingly excised its SEC bowl curse with its win over Alabama the previous year, the Buckeyes again suffered a loss to a Southeastern Conference opponent—its worst bowl defeat in school history. "Clemson became just the second team in college football history to shut out Ohio State (11–2) in a bowl game, joining U.C. Berkeley in the 1921 Rose Bowl," notes Wikipedia. Ohio State's coach Urban Meyer expressed shock at the loss: "Ohio State's not used to this, I'm not used to this, and we will not get used to this," he told CBS Sports. Only the future will tell if Ohio State's SEC bowl curse continues.

 

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Your Citation
Hyland, Tim. "Ohio State's SEC Struggles." ThoughtCo, Jul. 8, 2017, thoughtco.com/ohio-state-vs-sec-4123021. Hyland, Tim. (2017, July 8). Ohio State's SEC Struggles. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ohio-state-vs-sec-4123021 Hyland, Tim. "Ohio State's SEC Struggles." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ohio-state-vs-sec-4123021 (accessed November 24, 2017).