Friday, January 3, 2003

Remember those near misses?

Associated Press

Ohio State's last undisputed national title came after the 1968 season. Since then, OSU has come close to winning it all nine times. Here's a look at some of the factors that have prevented the Buckeyes from finishing No. 1:


Coach: Woody Hayes

Riding a 22-game winning streak and proclaimed by many as one of the greatest college teams of all time, Ohio State's season ended with perhaps the program's most bitter defeat. A year after stomping rival Michigan 50-14 on the way to a perfect 10-0 record and the No. 1 ranking, former Hayes assistant Bo Schembechler pulled off a stunning 24-12 upset in Ann Arbor and OSU finished No. 4 in the AP poll.


Coach: Woody Hayes

OSU entered the Rose Bowl unbeaten against No. 12 Stanford. Hayes called it "an afternoon of missed opportunities" as quarterback Jim Plunkett engineered a 27-17 comeback win for the Cardinal.


Coach: Woody Hayes

Ohio State had swamped UCLA 41-20 on Oct. 4. The rematch in the Rose Bowl had the unbeaten and No. 1 Buckeyes listed as 15-point favorites over the 11th-ranked Bruins. But UCLA won 23-10, and the Bucks dropped from No. 1.


Coach: Earle Bruce

Unranked in the preseason, Ohio State climbed all the way to No. 1 by winning Bruce's first 11 games, including an 18-15 victory over No. 13 Michigan. In the Rose Bowl, No. 3 USC's Heisman Trophy winner Charles White led an 80-yard march that ended with his diving TD from the 1 to lift the Trojans 17-16.


Coach: John Cooper

OSU wasn't challenged in its first 11 games, winning by double figures every time. Ohio State had stars such as Heisman winner Eddie George, QB Bobby Hoying, WR Terry Glenn and CB Shawn Springs. But Michigan had tailback Tim Biakabutuka, who rushed for a record 313 yards in the Wolverines' stunning 31-23 upset. Relegated to the Citrus Bowl, the Buckeyes then lost to Tennessee 20-14.


Coach: John Cooper

Cooper guided the second-ranked Buckeyes to an unbeaten season until Michigan again ruined the party. The Wolverines upset OSU 13-9. The Buckeyes still went to the Rose Bowl and beat Arizona State but ended up No. 2 in the rankings.


Coach: John Cooper

Favored by 17 points and ahead 24-9 in the second half, it appeared No. 1-ranked Ohio State was on its way to its ninth consecutive victory at Michigan State on Nov. 7. But the Spartans came back to win 28-24. The Buckeyes beat No. 8 Texas A&M 24-14 in the Sugar Bowl. But the damage already had been done and OSU finished second in the polls to Tennessee.

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