Many of us remember all too well how TTUN two years in a row ruined Buckeye perfect seasons and Ohio State’s chances for a natty in 1995 and 1996. That seemed like almost the nadir of the Cooper years—so close yet so far. (And that ‘95 Buckeyes team might have been as talented as any ever to represent Ohio State.)
I like to think Ohio State can outdo Michigan in just about anything and what I think gets overlooked or forgotten completely is that the Buckeyes one-upped the Wolverines in this regard: from 1972-1974 they ruined perfect seasons for Michigan and the Wolverines’ chances for a natty three years in a row (and even prevented them from going to a bowl game—more on that in a moment).
Michigan’s class of 1975 had an outstanding overall record of 30-2-1; yet they never got to a bowl game and all of their blemishes were courtesy of Ohio State.
For me, 1972-1974 represented the absolute peak of the rivalry. For those three years, the combined number of losses the two teams had entering The Game was two!
Ohio State had only one loss in ‘72 and ‘74 going into the final weekend, and had a perfect record in ‘73. And Michigan was undefeated and untied all three years prior to The Game.
The national rankings were (Ohio State) #9 vs. (Michigan) #2 in 1972, 1 vs. 2 in ‘73, and 3 vs. 2 in ‘74.
And what made it even better if possible, was how Ohio State survived 4th quarter scares to emerge victorious twice by virtually the narrowest of margins, and tied in one game.
In 1972, Michigan had a 1st and goal on the 1-yard-line in the 4th quarter, and Ohio State stuffed them four times in a row. In 1973 and 1974, Michigan had very makable last-minute field goal attempts for the win—and both went wide.
The final scores were 14-11, 10-10, ands 12-10.
What made it even more painful for Michigan was that, as even many people know who weren’t alive back then, Ohio State was voted by the Big Ten athletic directors to go to the Rose Bowl after the 10-10 tie in 1973. And because only one Big Ten team was allowed to go to a bowl game back then, Michigan sat home on New Year’s Day three years in a row notwithstanding their superb record.
So, you think Ohio State fans had it tough in the mid-‘90s?
At least there was the immense satisfaction of the exciting Rose Bowl win over Arizona State to close out the 1996 season. That was one of the great games in Buckeyes history in my humble opinion.
And thank goodness it was only two years in a row of a perfect season being ruined. (And, yes, I’m not forgetting 1993. But Ohio State did not have a perfect season on the line that year and they were behind Florida State, the eventual national champions, in the polls going into The Game. So Ohio State was probably not going to win a natty.)
But, from 1972-74, Ohio State, in essence, deprived Michigan of EVERYTHING in close, bitterly fought games.
Imagine where Bo would stand in college lore if his teams had scored a TD on first and goal from the one and had managed to make those last-minute two field goals.