It's been 13 years since the last time.
Back then it seemed like an annual event, especially on the one-year anniversary of the biggest disaster ever. That one featured the marching band coming out at halftime and reanimating the Titanic sinking for entertainment. It couldn't have been a more appropriate complement to the football game we were watching.
Thirteen years have passed since Ohio State can't beat SEC teams was the most overwhelming and accurate crescendo in college football. The Buckeyes were 0-9 against God's Conference back then, spanning generations of football and football players. It was statistically significant and impossible to refute.
Ohio State had been slobbered all over for a full year BY every media outlet on account of being legitimately great.
That #narrative didn't really grow legs until the Titanic football game in Glendale, which took place after the BCS had marinated long enough to transform college football out of being a regional sport of semi-competitive fiefdoms and into a national one with a unified champion. Which, well, they ended up mostly being a handful of programs from the SEC.
It's a conference that had always aggregated its pride, but the rest of the country finally adopted the practice - with enthusiastic encouragement from ESPN - after the Gators shellacked the Buckeyes. Ohio State had been slobbered all over for a full year by every media outlet on account of being legitimately great.
Subplots and drama sell the product, and the King of the North repeatedly dying in the South sold and still sells extremely well. But only then did everyone do the math and realize Ohio State had a big hole in its forever resumé.
|YEAR||OPPONENT||RANK||OSU RANK||BOWL GAME||RESULT|
||No.3||No.9||Sugar Bowl||L 6-35|
||No.9||No.21||Hall of Fame||L 14-31|
||No.2||No.1||BCS Title||L 14-41|
||No.2||No.1||BCS Title||L 38-24|
||No.1||No.4||Sugar CFP||W 42-35|
Did we say 13 years? Don't whatabout the Taxslayer Bowl - let's explain how this works.
Ohio State didn't start college football. Rutgers and Princeton did that. Ohio State didn't invent the forward pass, the T formation, inside zone or even the Script Ohio formation. Other programs invented those things and the Buckeyes simply reappropriated them (and in some cases like Script Ohio, upgraded them) for their own use.
But Ohio State did invent and perfect Postseason Loss Justification. Let's expand the grim chart.
|YEAR||OPPONENT||RANK||OSU RANK||BOWL GAME||RESULT||OSU PRIMED TO LOSE BECAUSE|
||No.3||No.9||Sugar Bowl||L 6-35||X||X|
||No.9||No.21||Hall of Fame||L 14-31||X||X||X|
||No.2||No.1||BCS Title||L 14-41||X|
||No.2||No.1||BCS Title||L 38-24|
||No.1||No.4||Sugar CFP||W 42-35|
- BAD: These teams were either ranked lower than their opponent, were badly overrated - or both.
- SAD: Ever lose to Michigan? It absolutely sucks the life out of you. That used to be the only thing that mattered *lowers voice* it still does; you young people just don't know what it's like to feel dead inside for a year or a whole-ass decade.
- DISTRACTED: These Buckeye teams either had their hearts set on a different and better postseason destination that never materialized or were told they were unbeatable. In 2010 they were beginning a journey into what would eventually become the dumbest year-long media-driven scandal in college football history.
You may notice every one of these games took place in the SEC geographical footprint is absent from the Loss Justification table. We've evolved out of home field advantage, even for that LSU game in the Louisiana Superdome - because anyone, anywhere has to be a part of Ohio State's current value proposition.
Friends, when Ohio State literally could not beat a single ranked team it faced (year: 1977) it was not going to beat Bear Bryant's Crimson Tide. When the Buckeyes thought they were destined for Pasadena up until Michigan abruptly altered their holiday plans (year: ugh, several) for Orlando, they were not going to fight for a trophy none of them ever wanted.
When Ohio State's Heisman quarterback was plugging cheap hamburgers on the banquet circuit for two full months while Urban Meyer's staff was producing deepfake hype videos of the media slandering his Florida Gators, it wasn't going to end well. The subsequent Buckeye team finished its season ranked no.7 and then watched everyone above it fail Ohio State up to no.1 in the BCS. Disaster. That was 13 years ago.
Ohio State is 2-10 in bowl games against SEC opponents. That's John Cooper's record against Michigan, minus the tie.
Losses all count the same, but only on paper. Nobody is hanging that Taxslayer Bowl defeat over anyone's head, ever. No one cares. Ohio State fans don't care. Florida fans don't care. It's now a footnote from what is still a lopsided record the Buckeyes have to carry around with them, kind of like their Michigan rivalry deficit that nobody currently cares about outside of Ann Arbor.
No one cares about the SEC record because of the last time the Buckeyes faced the SEC champion. Ohio State is 2-10 in bowl games against SEC opponents. That's John Cooper's record against Michigan, minus the tie. Crickets. And it's because of the loss justification system the Buckeyes created going national.
You know why Bama lost that 2015 Sugar Bowl with Ohio State? It was distracted. The Buckeyes started a 3rd string quarterback they didn't take very seriously. Blake Sims just wasn't up to their usual standard. Lane Kiffin forgot about Derrick Henry.
The Buckeyes lost at home to Virginia Tech by 14 points. They played in the Big Ten. How tough could they be? This kind of bargaining should sound quite familiar and comforting.
Southern Comfort is more than just shitty liquor. This booze was originally distilled in Ohio.
A funny thing happened on the way home from Ohio State being 0-9 against SEC teams in bowl games: SEC teams, now geared toward national championships, started losing the exact same type of late December and early January affairs that are largely responsible for the Buckeyes' deficit. SEC teams now only lose bowl games when they don't want to be there.
And that's one thing that only COVID can touch with the current playoff system. Alabama wants to be there. Ohio State wants to be there. They're both really good. Neither lost their rivalry game. The next entry to the chart above will look like the one from 2008 - the last time - 13 years ago when the Buckeyes only had inconvenient excuses. The CFP killed anyone's concern over Ohio State's bowl record against SEC teams.
For all the complaining about how the playoff is already stale with the same helmets showing up in every edition, the year nobody ever wanted somehow delivered a championship game every other season has failed to deliver. Hopefully it won't be for the last time.