Ohio State can Get Revenge for a Lost Record in Their Rematch Against Clemson

By Johnny Ginter on December 18, 2016 at 8:30 am
Ryan Shazier makes a tackle against Clemson in the 2014 Orange Bowl.

In general, it's not a good thing to get sentimental about most of the random stuff we try to hold on to forever.

Yeah, the car you've had since high school might be the location of the first time you made out with tongues, but you're also going to try and drive in the snow in like two weeks and your 2001 Chevy Cavalier's lack of functional ABS brakes will kill you dead faster than you can say "black ice."

This is the tyranny of things; an attachment to items that have no real functional value in our lives, but we hang on to anyway out of habit. It's better to realize that all things are finite, with an expiration date that should be followed once it comes up.

Or, alternatively, screw that! Some things are sacred, and I will be mad about losing them until the day I die. And one of those inevitably doomed yet still horribly missed things in my life is the greatest statistical record in college football history.

Before the 2014 Orange Bowl against Clemson, Ohio State was 279-0-1 all time in games in which they had scored 35 or more points.

That ridiculous statistic was more than just my go-to factoid when I wanted to sound like I know something about football to strangers, it was a mathematically and logically insane thing to contemplate. A football team accomplishing that over many, many decades of effort is somewhere on the same level of likelihood as you waking up every morning for the better part of a year at exactly 6:48 in the morning.

The best part of the record is that it wasn't the result of a hot streak that lasted a season or two, it wasn't the byproduct of one really good coach, and while it wasn't accomplished with Ohio State playing in a particularly offensively-minded conference, it also spoke to the tradition of excellent defense played by the Buckeyes.

It implied a lot of other things as well (namely, that Ohio State is awesome), but ultimately it was just really cool to know that if your team got to five touchdowns in a game, they were essentially guaranteed to win.

Their lone non-win in a game in which they scored 35 points or more came in a 1978 tie against SMU, which is truly one of the most hilariously aggravating box scores I have ever seen in my entire life. Art Schlichter threw more interceptions (four) than completions (three), and the Buckeyes gave up over 340 yards of passing. Here is the box score if you're feeling particularly masochistic, but long story short: it sucked.

That game was, probably not coincidentally, part of the last season of football that Woody Hayes would ever coach as he got himself fired for punching a – wait for it – Clemson player in a bowl game.

So maybe it's fitting that Clemson ruined everything. The following is the lone, sad mention of it in Ohio State's game notes after the Orange Bowl:

*anguished screaming*

One of the things that people forget about that game as part of what is clearly a defense mechanism is that the last six minutes or so were utter unwatchable garbage. The coolest record in college football died with a whimper, and by the end of the game I couldn't tell if I was more angry at the Buckeyes looking like crap or my statistical ace-in-the-hole being dashed forever.

In retrospect it is definitely the latter. The good news is that Urban, with his generally high flying offenses has run that record up to an impressive 305-1-1, but that lone loss remains a black mark that will surely haunt him until the end of his days.

I mean, not really, and the good news is that the 2016 Ohio State football team has been successful in a way directly contrary to the narrative that was developing after that Orange Bowl. The concern that Urban was unable to field a consistent defense has vanished, so now we can focus on less petty things like making weenie arm jokes and getting really angry at Zach Smith while enjoying probably the best secondary in the country and one of the best defenses overall.

But Clemson looms large. They have a fantastic quarterback and excellent wide receivers, and the threat of another 35-plus points loss looms large. Which is why I implore Urban Meyer and the Ohio State football team to win the 2016 Fiesta Bowl 2.0 by a score of exactly 35-34 to help me exorcise some personal demons. 306-1-1 helps me write a goofy story. 305-2-1 might send me into a downward spiral from which there is no escape.

Still, maybe I should just try and enjoy the record for what it was and not what I want it to be.

After all, in Clemson's last two losses, they scored 40 and 41 points.

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