Decade in Review: Ohio State Football's Most Crushing Losses of the 2010s

By Chris Lauderback on January 23, 2020 at 11:05 am
Jeff Okudah is about to force a fumble, or so Buckeye fans thought.
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

BREAKING: Ohio State's football program churned out a pretty impressive decade.

Decade in Review: The 2010s

The Buckeyes racked up 117 wins against just 18 losses during the past 10 seasons – and only 11 defeats if you throw out the 2011 debacle – while going 9-1 against Michigan, recording seven top-5 finishes and winning the 2014 College Football Playoff national championship. 

The flip side to a program winning at such a dominant clip? The few losses are usually soul-crushers. 

As Eleven Warriors' Decade in Review series marches on, we must now get to the most excruciating losses of the last 10 years. This is your cue to grab a chilled glass of gasoline. Cheers.

10. Nov. 26, 2011: Michigan 40, Ohio State 34

Generally speaking, a loss for an Ohio State team entering a game with a 6-5 record wouldn't normally qualify for such a list but this was The Game. 

With Luke Fickell acting as interim head coach taking on first-year head coach Brady Hoke and No. 15 Michigan in Ann Arbor, Denard Robinson scorched the Buckeyes for 337 total yards and five touchdowns. 

Despite Robinson's heroics, the Wolverines led by a mere six points, 40-34, with just under two minutes to play. Ohio State's offense revolved around true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller and the kid had a chance to pull off a stunner but he overshot a wide open DeVier Posey on what could have been a 76-yard touchdown pass on the Buckeyes' final possession. 

Miller finished with 335 total yards and three touchdowns but it wasn't enough to keep Michigan from beating Ohio State for the first time since 2003. 

If not for this loss, Ohio State would currently be the owners of a 16-game winning streak against the Wolverines. 

9. Jan. 3, 2014: Clemson 40, Ohio State 35

Forced to take a trip to the Orange Bowl as a BCS at-large selection following a loss to Michigan State in the 2013 Big Ten championship game, the No. 7 ranked Buckeyes headed to Miami to face No. 12 Clemson. 

Dabo Swinney's crew entered the contest with an 11-1 record fueled by a lethal combo featuring Tahj Boyd and quarterback and his favorite receiving target, Sammy Watkins. 

The Buckeyes led 29-20 late in the third quarter and 35-34 with 11:35 left in the fourth but mistakes including a muffed punt return try by Philly Brown followed by a lost fumble and a pair of interceptions from Braxton Miller proved too much for Ohio State to overcome.

Boyd's 486 total yards and six total touchdowns included 227 yards and two touchdowns from Watkins as the Tigers demolished Ohio State's defense to the tune of 567 total yards. Clemson became the third team to score at least 30 points on the Buckeyes that season. 

Miller took some serious shots while cranking out four touchdowns against those three costly turnovers. 

8. Oct. 22, 2016: Penn State 24, Ohio State 21

Ranked No. 2 in the country on a strength of a 6-0 record, Ohio State headed to Happy Valley to take on a 4-2 Penn State team in whiteout conditions. 

The Buckeyes built a 21-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter before allowing the Nittany Lions to close the game on a 17-0 run. 

Still nursing a 21-17 lead with 4:39 left in regulation, Meyer opted late in the play clock to rush his field goal unit onto the field to attempt a 45-yard field goal instead of using one of his multiple timeouts remaining.

Barely set before the snap, the Buckeye front couldn't defend the rush as Marcus Allen blocked Tyler Durbin's kick and Grant Haley scooped it up and raced 60 yards for a touchdown giving Penn State a 24-21 lead with 4:27 left on the clock. 

Ohio State's offense failed to reach midfield on its last possession giving James Franklin an improbable victory. 

The Buckeyes did go on to reach the College Football Playoff that year only to be smoked by Clemson. 

7. Nov. 4, 2017: Iowa 55, Ohio State 24 

Sitting at 7-1 overall and 5-0 in league play coming off a huge come-from-behind victory against No. 2 Penn State, Urban Meyer's No. 6 ranked team headed to Iowa City to take on a 5-3 Hawkeyes squad in prime time. 

The game got off to an ominous start as J.T. Barrett tossed a pick-six on Ohio State's first play from scrimmage while the defense struggled to contain Iowa's tight end heavy attack. 

The Buckeyes found themselves in a 17-17 game with 10 minutes left in the first half but were outscored Ohio State 38-7 the rest of the way. Barrett tossed three more picks, Nick Bosa was ejected for targeting and Iowa's tight end combo of Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson recorded nine receptions for 125 yards and four touchdowns against an confused set of linebackers and safeties. 

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley tossed five touchdowns as the Hawkeyes recorded more points than any other team to face the Buckeyes in the Meyer era. The loss ensured Ohio State would not make the College Football Playoff field, instead spanking No. 8 USC in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. 

6. Oct. 16, 2010: Wisconsin 31, Ohio State 18

Newly minted as the No. 1 team in the land with a 6-0 record, Jim Tressel's Buckeyes headed to Camp Randall to face No. 18 Wisconsin. 

Things started off with a dang as David Gilreath returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Staggered from the early haymaker, Ohio State fell into a 21-0 hole barely two minutes into the second quarter before finally waking up. 

Devin Barclay hit a short field goal before the half and Boom Herron capped a 77-yard touchdown drive with a short plunge early in the third quarter before adding another score early in the fourth, pulling the Buckeyes to 21-18 with 11:38 left in regulation. 

Wisconsin regrouped and scored the game's final 10 points to win 31-18, ending Ohio State's chances at reaching the BCS national championship game. John Clay and James White combined to run for 179 yards and three scores while Terrelle Pryor completed just 14 of 28 throws for 156 yards and an interception. 

The Buckeyes went on to win their their last six games to finish 12-1 including a 37-7 win over Michigan and a 31-26 thriller over No. 8 Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl leading to a No. 5 final ranking. 

5. Oct. 20, 2018: Purdue 49, Ohio State 20

Here's a familiar opening for you.. Undefeated at 7-0 and ranked No. 2 in the country, Ohio State hit the road for a night game, this time against a 3-3 Purdue squad in Depressed Lafayette. 

Similar to the loss in Iowa City, the Buckeyes allowed the opponent to get off to a hot start, fueling thoughts of an upset for both the players and fans. Purdue jumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead and which became a 28-6 cushion early in the fourth quarter. 

Ohio State's offense woke up in time to score two touchdowns sandwiched between a D.J. Knox's third touchdown of the game making the score 35-20 with 4:40 left. Smelling blood, Purdue added a 43-yard touchdown catch from Rondale Moore and a 41-yard pick six pushing the final score to 49-20. 

A historically bad Ohio State defense was historically bad in this one giving up 539 total yards as some guy named David Blough threw for 378 yards and three scores. Moore recorded 194 total yards (170 receiving) with two touchdowns. 

The theme of Ohio State's offense being unable to run the ball was front and center as it recorded 76 yards on 3.0 yards per carry. As a result of no run blocking and playing from behind, Meyer and Ryan Day relied on Dwayne Haskins to air it out 73 times, completing 49, for 470 yards and two touchdowns against one interception. 

The only silver lining came in the form of Tyler Trent getting to see his beloved Boilermakers pull off a stunner. 

Ohio State would go on to win the Big Ten championship but the blowout loss to the Boilers was too much for the College Football Playoff committee to overlook. Instead, Meyer's last game at the helm came in the Rose Bowl as his squad took down Washington to finish 13-1. 

4. Dec. 31, 2016: Clemson 31, Ohio State 0

Having lost to Penn State earlier in the season, Ohio State failed to win the Big Ten but still managed to earn a No. 3 slot and a date with No. 2 Clemson in the College Football Playoff. 

Unfortunately, Ohio State forgot to show up in Glendale as the Tigers gutted the Buckeyes 31-0, marking the first time Urban Meyer was shut out in 193 games as a head coach. 

Dabo Swinney actually took it easy on Meyer yet the Tigers still held the Buckeyes to nine first downs, 3-for-14 on third down and 215 total yards thanks to a dominant defensive line led by Christian Wilkins, Carlos Watkins, Clelin Ferrell and Dexter Lawrence.

J.T. Barrett threw for 127 yards with two picks and Ohio State managed 88 yards rushing. 

Meanwhile, Deshaun Watson tossed a couple interceptions of his own but still tallied 316 total yards and three scores to lead the Tigers. 

The loss ended Ohio State's season with an 11-2 record while Clemson went on to defeat Alabama to claim the national title. 

3. Dec. 7, 2013: Michigan State 34, Ohio State 24

Still with me? Just three more to go. Too bad they only get more gut-wrenching. 

Next up, Ohio State entered the 2013 Big Ten championship game riding a 24-game winning streak and ranked No.2 in the nation. With a berth in the BCS national championship game on the line, Meyer's 12-0 squad just needed to get past No. 10 Michigan State on a neutral field in Indianapolis. 

The Buckeyes led 24-17 late in the fourth quarter before the Spartans scored the game's final 17 points to win 34-24, ending Ohio State's national title aspirations. 

With just over five minutes to play, Ohio State faced a 4th-and-1 near midfield, trailing 27-24. Meyer dialed up a Braxton Miller keeper to the right side which was blown up when tight end Jeff Heuerman failed to hold his block. Giving the ball the Carlos Hyde, who finished with 118 yards on 18 carries was another option but Meyer stuck with Miller with the season on the line. 

Michigan State's Jeremy Langford would run for a 26-yard touchdown on the ensuring Spartan possession to seal the deal. 

Miller finished with 243 total yards and three touchdowns but the Buckeyes converted just 1-of-10 third down tries and went 0-for-2 on fourth down attempts. 

Meanwhile, Connor Cook led Michigan State with 304 passing yards and three scores before capping his night with a low-class snatch of the game's MVP trophy from Archie Griffin. 

The Buckeyes would go on to lose a 40-35 heartbreaker to Clemson in the Orange Bowl, finishing the season with a 12-2 mark. 

2. Nov. 21, 2015: Michigan State 17, Ohio State 14

Oh, look. Michigan State again. Urban Meyer's 2015 squad had under-performed through the first 10 games but still managed to win them all with designs on repeating as national champs. 

Ranked No. 3 and hosting No. 9 Michigan State in a dank and dreary Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes entered the contest as 13-point favorites. 

Without their starting quarterback, the Spartans somehow managed to score the game's final 10 points while Ohio State's offense could only muster 132 total yards and five first downs. The Buckeyes' two scoring drives went for 32 and six yards. 

Ezekiel Elliott carried the ball eight times for 26 yards on Ohio State's first scoring drive which overlapped the end of the first quarter and the beginning of the second. Elliott would register just four carries for seven yards the rest of the game. 

A muffed punt return by Michigan State set up a 6-yard touchdown toss from J.T. Barrett to Jalin Marshall to give the Buckeyes a 14-7 lead late in third quarter but the Spartans would score those 10 unanswered points in the final period. 

Tied at 14 with three seconds left on the clock, Michael Geiger's 41-yard field goal try ended Ohio State's bid to repeat. 

The Buckeyes would go on to beat Michigan 42-13 before cruising to a 44-28 win over Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl to finish at 12-1. 

1. Dec. 28, 2019: Clemson 29, Ohio State 23

Turns out, this one is still a little too fresh for me to go deep. You saw it. Ohio State played itself into a No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff after falling into a halftime hole against Wisconsin before rallying in the second half of the Big Ten championship game. The penalty? A date with No. 3 Clemson in the CFP semifinal instead of a No. 1 seed and a matchup with No. 4 Oklahoma. 

No matter, Ohio State raced out to a 16-0 lead against the Tigers but too many field goals in the red zone, questionable officiating and self-inflicted wounds helped the Buckeyes snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in a a 29-23 soul-crusher. 

Despite all that, Ohio State had a shot to win on its final possession but a Justin Fields pass intended for Chris Olave was intercepted in the end zone after Olave misread Fields' pocket manuevering and broke his route. 

The loss ended Ohio State's season with a 13-1 mark and frustrating thoughts of what might have been. 

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