The Crimson Tide of coach Paul "Bear" Bryant absolutely dominated the Buckeyes (9-3) of coach Woody Hayes before 76,811 in the Louisiana Superdome. Alabama practiced at home until just four days before the game, while Hayes had the Buckeyes go to New Orleans two weeks beforehand because of concerns that they might not be able to have full workouts in cold, snowy Columbus. Too long at the bowl site? Almost three decades later, that would still be a troubling question for the Buckeyes when they played an SEC team.
Jan. 1, 1990 Hall of Fame Bowl Tampa, Fla. Auburn 31, Ohio State 14
The Buckeyes led 14-3 late in the second quarter, but the Tigers flipped the momentum with a touchdown just 11 seconds before halftime. It was just another late-season flop for Ohio State under coach John Cooper. The Buckeyes had climbed back from lopsided early losses to USC and Illinois to battle Michigan for the Big Ten title, only to lose 28-18, before falling flat in the bowl game.
Jan. 1, 1993 Citrus Bowl Orlando, Fla. Georgia 21, Ohio State 14
This game featured two of the premier running backs in the nation in Georgia's Garrison Hearst and the Buckeyes' Robert Smith. Hearst would finish with 163 yards rushing and two touchdowns, Smith with 112 and two scores. With the game tied at 14-14 in the final quarter, Ohio State QB Kirk Herbstreit, now known for analyzing football instead of playing it, bumped into FB Jeff Cothran on a handoff and the ball squirted loose, with Georgia's Travis Jones recovering it at the Bulldogs 20. They marched 80 yards for the go-ahead score and then played keepaway with Hearst continually ramming into the line and piling up yards.
Jan. 2, 1995 Florida Citrus Bowl Orlando, Fla. Alabama 24, Ohio State 17
The Buckeyes entered the game at No. 13 after a rare (under Cooper) victory over Michigan. With the score tied at 17-17 in the fourth quarter of this evenly matched contest, the Buckeyes were forced to punt. On second down near midfield, Crimson Tide QB Jay Barker tossed a short pass to TB Sherman Lewis who avoided tacklers as he raced up the heart of the field, crossing the goal line with 42 seconds left.
Jan. 1, 1996 Florida Citrus Bowl Orlando, Fla. Tennessee 20, Ohio State 14
A season of so much promise sure slipped away in a hurry. Eddie George won the Heisman Trophy and the Buckeyes were stocked with NFL draftees such as QB Bobby Hoying, DE Mike Vrabel, WR Terry Glenn and OT Orlando Pace. They mauled their first 11 opponents, but once again disaster awaited in the Michigan game where Tim Biakabutuka rushed for 313 yards on 37 carries to almost personally end the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes' national-title hopes. Then in a rainy, windy bowl game, there was more disappointment. Jeff Hall kicked field goals of 29 and 25 yards in the fourth quarter to help Peyton Manning beat the Buckeyes.
Jan. 1, 2001 Outback Bowl Tampa, Fla. South Carolina 24, Ohio State 7
Call it Cooper's Last Stand. While the Buckeyes were in the Sunshine State preparing for the game, it was discovered that one starter had a 0.00 grade-point average and that an Ohio State offensive lineman was suing a teammate for a punch thrown during a practice earlier in the season. Heavy favorites to beat the Gamecocks, the 18th-ranked Buckeyes couldn't stop Ryan Brewer, a former Mr. Football in Ohio whom Cooper had not recruited. Brewer rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns — both in the fourth quarter — to push Cooper's bowl record to 3-9. Factor in a 2-10-1 mark against rival Michigan and all the academic and legal problems, and it spelled the end for Cooper at Ohio State, who was fired soon after the game.
Jan. 1, 2002 Outback Bowl Tampa, Fla. South Carolina 31, Ohio State 28
A new coach didn't make much difference after all. Jim Tressel, hired to replace Cooper after spending 15 years at Youngstown State, did not inherit all that much talent. The Buckeyes never won more than two games in a row all season, and were rocked by starting QB Steve Bellisari's drunken-driving arrest late in the season. But Tressel retooled with sophomore Craig Krenzel calling signals and the Buckeyes upset Michigan and were favored to beat South Carolina in their second meeting in as many years in Tampa. But Phil Petty passed for two touchdowns and Daniel Weaver kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired to again give the Gamecocks — and the SEC — the victory.
Jan. 8, 2007 BCS National Championship Glendale, Ariz. Florida 41, Ohio State 14
Once again Ohio State had a Heisman Trophy winner, this time in QB Troy Smith. The Buckeyes rolled over 12 opponents, including No. 2 Texas in Austin and then No. 2 Michigan at home. Florida coach Urban Meyer had to stump for his team to even make it into the Bowl Championship Series title game. The Buckeyes were favored, and appeared to be ready to back that up after Ted Ginn Jr. returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. But the Gators controlled every facet of the game from then on, with Smith managing to complete just 4 of 14 passes for a meager 35 yards with one interception.
Jan. 7, 2008 BCS National Championship New Orleans LSU 38, Ohio State 24
Different SEC team, different year, same result. Less than a minute and a half into the game at the Louisiana Superdome, Chris "Beanie" Wells broke through a blockade at the line and sprinted away for a 65-yard touchdown. Moments later, Ryan Pretorius kicked a 34-yard field goal. But for the second year in a row, a Buckeyes lead was vaporized. LSU ran off the next 31 points. Matt Flynn passed for four scores and the Buckeyes turned the ball over three times.