Ohio State Searching for Elusive Primetime Home Victory Over Non-Conference Power-5 Opponent

By James Grega on September 6, 2017 at 10:10 am
Ohio State Night Game

Ohio Stadium offers the Ohio State football program one of the best home-field advantages in college football. However, in recent years the Buckeyes have struggled to win primetime games at home, especially against non-conference opponents. 

Since 2000, the Buckeyes have hosted 10 Power 5 non-conference home games, compiling a record of 7-3. Of those 10 games, four have been primetime starts under the lights. In those games, Ohio State is 1-3. 

With Oklahoma coming to town for a 7:30 p.m. kick Saturday, Eleven Warriors takes a look back at the last four night games in Ohio Stadium against non-conference Power 5 opponents. We will start with the most recent matchup, which took place three years ago today.

September 6, 2014: Virginia Tech 35, No. 8 Ohio State 21

The first regular season loss of the Urban Meyer era at Ohio State came in shocking fashion. The Hokies pushed the Buckeye offensive line around with a 46 Bear defense that OSU and its coaching staff admittedly failed to adjust to. Redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett, starting his first game in Ohio Stadium, completed just 9-of-29 passes while throwing three interceptions. Barrett's 31 percent completion percentage in that game remains the worst of his career. 

The Buckeyes totaled just 108 yards rushing on 40 carries, good for just 2.7 yards per carry. Barrett was sacked seven times, the most of the Meyer era at the time (Michigan sacked Barrett eight times in 2016). The pain of the loss for Ohio State was lessened, however, as the Buckeyes rattled off 13 straight wins to end the season as national champions. 

September 12, 2009: No. 3 USC 18, No. 8 Ohio State 15

One year after getting thumped in the Coliseum, 35-3, Ohio Stadium played host to the highly anticipated matchup between the Trojans and Buckeyes. Both defenses dominated, as the teams combined for just 28 first downs and 578 yards of total offense. 

Despite scoring just one touchdown, Ohio State added a pair of Aaron Pettrey field goals and a safety after the Trojans' long snapper sent a snap over the head of his punter and out of the back of Ohio Stadium's north end zone. 

Leading 15-10 with 7:15 in the fourth quarter and with USC pinned at its own 14-yard line, Ohio State's Devon Torrence sacked freshman quarterback Matt Barkley on the first play of the Trojan drive. USC then committed a false start penalty and faced 2nd-and-19 from its own 5-yard line. 

Then, the legend of Matt Barkley was born. The freshman signal caller drove the Trojans 95 yards down the field as running back Stafon Johnson capped the drive with a two yard touchdown run with 1:05 remaining in the game. A last-gasp effort from Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State offense came up short, as USC escaped with the win. By season's end, though, the Buckeyes put together the better season, finishing with a 26-17 win in the Rose Bowl over Oregon. The Trojans dropped four games in 2009, capping the season with a win over Boston College in the Emerald Bowl. 

September 10, 2005: No. 2 Texas 25, No. 4 Ohio State 22

Taking on Vince Young's Longhorns, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel decided to start Justin Zwick against Texas, despite getting Troy Smith back from a two-game suspension. 

After trailing 10-0 at the end of the first quarter, Tressel inserted Smith into the game and the Glenville product led Ohio State on back-to-back scoring drives to tie the game at 10, highlighted by a 36-yard touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes. 

The two teams would convert on five field goals between them before Ohio State marched inside the Texas 10-yard line. Facing a 3rd-and-5 from the Longhorn 8-yard line, Zwick, back in for Smith, found a wide open Ryan Hamby in the middle of the end zone for what would have been a sure touchdown. Hamby, though, dropped the pass and the Buckeyes were forced to settle for a field goal. It would be their last points of the night. Led by Young, the Longhorns scored the final nine points of the night to take a 25-22 victory. Texas would go on to win the 2005 national title, finishing the season a perfect 13-0. 

August 30, 2003: No. 2 Ohio State 28, No. 17 Washington 9

Ohio State's last home victory in a primetime game against a non-conference Power 5 opponent came against the Huskies in the Buckeyes' first home game following their 2002 national title. 

With the Maurice Clarett controversy hovering over Columbus, Ohio State's running game accounted for all four of the Buckeye scores. Maurice Hall and Lydell Ross each scored once for the Buckeyes and quarterback Craig Krenzel found the end zone twice with his legs. He also threw for 203 yards, completing 15 of his 27 pass attempts. 

The Husky offense struggled against Ohio State's stout defense, accumulating just seven rushing yards. Washington scored its lone touchdown of the night with 3:27 remaining in the game, failing its two-point conversion attempt. 

Ohio State's six home games against non-conference Power 5 opponents since 2000 that weren't played under the lights have all resulted in wins for the Buckeyes. 

In 2002, the Buckeyes hosted Texas Tech and Washington State at Ohio Stadium, defeating the Red Raiders 45-21 and the No. 10 ranked Cougars 25-7. 

After its win over Washington in 2003, the Buckeyes later played host to Phillip Rivers and N.C. State, winning a triple-overtime thriller, 44-38. 

The remaining non-conference home games against Power 5 opponents featured Ohio State wins over Miami (2010), Colorado (2011) and California (2012). 

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