Revisiting Ohio State's Primetime Non-Conference Games Over The Last 15 Years

By James Grega on May 17, 2018 at 8:57 am
Ohio Stadium

Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

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Night games. Good for recruiting and fan experience. 

Not so good when it comes to Ohio State victories. 

The Buckeyes have played quite a few primetime non-conference regular season games over the last 15 years, but despite the program's overwhelming success in that span, Ohio State has lost its fair share of night games early in the season. 

Ohio State will play in yet another primetime non-conference regular season game in 2018, as the Buckeyes are set to travel to AT&T Stadium to take on TCU in a "neutral site" game. The contest is set to kick off at 8 p.m., putting OSU on the premier stage once again. 

We decided to take a look back at Ohio State's last few primetime non-conference regular season contests, which contain more heartbreak for Buckeye fans than joy since 2003. 


Sept. 9, 2017: Oklahoma 31, Ohio State 16

Ohio State was on the big stage for the second year in a row, but instead of doubling up Oklahoma for the second time in as many years, the Buckeyes were run out of their own stadium. 

Baker Mayfield put himself firmly in the Heisman discussion by throwing for 386 yards and three scores, while the Buckeyes managed a regular season-worst 350 total yards of offense in the loss. 

The Sooners out-gained the Buckeyes 222-92 in the first half and did not attempt a punt until there were six minutes left in the third quarter. Oklahoma was also able to overcome two first half turnovers, allowing just three Ohio State points in the first 30 minutes.

Sept. 17, 2016: Ohio State 45, Oklahoma 24

The Buckeyes arrived in Norman, Okla. with bad intentions after a Sooner backup quarterback called the Ohio State defense "basic." 

After a weather delay, Ohio State came out swinging against Oklahoma, forcing Mayfield into a pair of interceptions while Noah Brown exploded for four touchdown receptions. 

Brown's over the back catch against an Oklahoma defender provided us with perhaps the play of the year for Ohio State, which would send Sooner fans home early, as the Buckeyes held a 42-17 lead in the opening minutes of the third quarter. 

Sept. 7, 2015: Ohio State 42, Virginia Tech 24

Perhaps the most highly anticipated season-opener in Ohio State history, the Buckeyes didn't reveal their starting quarterback until the first play of the 2015 season, when Cardale Jones walked out with the first team offense on Labor Day night in Blacksburg, Va. 

From there, the Buckeyes dominated the Hokies in what would be the final season-opener for head coach Frank Beamer. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 122 yards on just 11 carries while the Ohio State offense as a whole put up 572 yards, silencing a raucous crowd for much of the second half. 

The game provided the play of the year from quarterback-turned-wide receiver Braxton Miller, who spun out a pair of Hokies on his way to a long touchdown run. The game ended up being the most productive game of the season for the Ohio State offense, which struggled to find its rhythm all season, just one year after winning a national title. 

Sept. 6, 2014: Virginia Tech 35, Ohio State 21

The lone blemish on Ohio State's national championship season of 2014 came in the home-opener against the Hokiers, when the Buckeye offense was stifled by Virginia Tech's 46 Bear front defense. 

Ohio State managed just 108 yards rushing, while freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett threw a trio of interceptions, the last of which ended the game as Virginia Tech defensive back Donovan Riley housed a late pick for a touchdown in the closing moments. 

The story ended well for Ohio State that season however, as the Buckeyes rattled off 13 straight wins to take home the first national title of the playoff era in 2014-15. 

Sept. 17, 2011: Miami (FL) 24, Ohio State 6

The first road game of the Luke Fickell era ended in overwhelming disappointment as the Buckeyes failed to find the end zone in an 18-point loss to unranked Miami in the third game of the tumultuous 2011 season. 

The Buckeyes accumulated just 209 yards of offense, completing 4-of-18 passes for 45 yards and an interception between Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller. It was the last time Ohio State would be ranked until the start of the 2012 season when Urban Meyer arrived on campus.

Sept. 12, 2009: USC 18, Ohio State 15

Perhaps the loudest game in recent Ohio Stadium memory, the showdown with USC in 2009 featured an electric atmosphere from kickoff to the final minutes, when Matt Barkley broke the hearts of Buckeye nation, doing his best John Elway impression. 

Down 15-10 and backed up inside his own 10-yard line, Barkley marched the Trojans all the way down the field, as USC took an 18-15 lead with just 1:05 remaining as running back Stefan Johnson scored from two yards out. 

The game was not indicative of the seasons the two programs would have however, as the Buckeyes went on to win the Rose Bowl in 2009-10, while USC would drop four games and win the Emerald Bowl over Boston College, in what ended up being Pete Carroll's last season in Los Angeles. 

Sept. 13, 2008: USC 35, Ohio State 3

Ohio State's trip to Lala Land ended early, as the Buckeyes were blasted by 32 points in the Coliseum. 

The game was never close, as the Trojans limited Ohio State to just 71 yards on the ground, while Todd Boeckman proved to be ineffective through the air. On the other side, Trojan quarterback Mark Sanchez threw four touchdown passes in the victory. USC would go on to win the Rose Bowl over Penn State, while Ohio State fell to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl that season. 

The loss to USC ended up being the last game Boeckman ever started at Ohio State, as freshman phenom Terrelle Pryor started the following week against Troy and never let go of the reigns until his career came to an end in 2010. 

Sept. 9, 2006: Ohio State 24, Texas 7

In a game that featured the top two teams in the country, Ohio State went to Austin, and as Brent Musberger famously said, "messed with Texas."

The Buckeye defense forced a pair of Texas turnovers, forcing a fumble near the goal line and also intercepting freshman quarterback Colt McCoy. Troy Smith threw for 269 yards and a pair of scores, as Ohio State solidified itself as the No. 1 team in the country. 

Ohio State of course, would go on to win another matchup of top-two programs, defeating Michigan 42-39 in the season finale before getting blasted by Florida in the national title game, 41-14. 

Sept. 10, 2005: Texas 25, Ohio State 22

Vince Young came to Ohio Stadium and put together one of the best performances of his career in the biggest game of the non-conference season in 2005. 

Young, the Heisman Trophy winner Heisman runner-up, put up 346 yards of total offense, completing the game-winning touchdown pass to Limas Sweed in the Northwest corner of Ohio Stadium with just 2:37 to play, sending Ohio State fans home in disappointment. 

On the other side of the ball, Ohio State rotated quarterbacks as Troy Smith was coming off of a two-game suspension for taking money from a booster. Smith finished 5-of-11 passing for 78 yards and a touchdown to Santonio Holmes, while Justin Zwick completed 9-of-15 passes for 66 yards. Zwick though, committed a costly turnover following the Sweed touchdown, fumbling on the first play of the ensuing drive, ultimately sealing Ohio State's fate. 

The game also featured one of the biggest drops in Ohio State history, as Ryan Hammy dropped a sure touchdown in the back of the North end zone that would have given the Buckeyes a bigger lead in the third quarter. 

Aug. 30, 2003: Ohio State 28, Washington 9

The first game since Ohio State's thrilling win over Miami in the 2002-03 BCS title game featured questions surrounding the program regarding Maurice Clarett's eligibility. Once the game started though, the Buckeyes dominated. 

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 win over the Huskies is the last time Ohio State won a primetime, non-conference game over Power-5 opponent at home


Overall, Ohio State is 4-6 in its last 10 primetime, non-conference regular season games. The Buckeyes will get their chance to get closer to .500 on Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. at AT&T Stadium, where Ohio State is a perfect 2-0, defeating Oregon in the 2015 College Football Playoff title game and USC in the 2017-18 Cotton Bowl. 

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