Ohio State record vs. SEC teams: Will Buckeyes' bowl struggles continue in College Football Playoff?

Ohio State record vs. SEC teams: Will Buckeyes' bowl struggles continue in College Football Playoff?

No. 4 Ohio State meets No. 1 Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl on Saturday – and that offers the Buckeyes another chance to prove it against a SEC opponent. 

The Buckeyes are 104-12 (.897) in the CFP era – one of four programs with a winning percentage of better than 80%. The other three programs are Alabama at 114-12 (.905), Clemson at 110-15 (.880) and Georgia at 99-21 (.825). 

This is the first matchup against the Bulldogs in a bowl game – and a chance to score a defining program victory. Ohio State’s history against the SEC has not been kind, but there is one memorable victory that still stands out. 

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Ohio State record vs. SEC in bowl games 

Ohio State is 5-12 against the SEC all time, but that record drops to 2-11 in bowl games. 

The Buckeyes’ first bowl game against a SEC opponent was the 1978 Sugar Bowl, a top-10 showdown between No. 9 Ohio State and No. 3 Alabama that featured legendary coaches Woody Hayes and Bear Bryant. The Crimson Tide won, 35-6. 

Ohio State also had a rough stretch against SEC opponents in bowl games in the 1990s before the Bowl Championship Series. John Cooper was on the losing end of all four bowl games against top-10 SEC teams. 

DATEBOWLRESULT
Jan. 1, 1990Hal of FameNo. 9 Auburn 31, No. 21 Ohio State 14
Jan. 1, 1993CitrusNo. 8 Georgia 21, No. 15 Ohio State 14
Jan. 2, 1995CitrusNo. 6 Alabama 24, No. 13 Ohio State 17
Jan. 1, 1996CitrusNo. 4 Tennessee 20, No. 4 Ohio State 14

Ohio State vs. SEC in BCS era 

The Buckeyes had seven more bowl matchups against SEC opponents in the BCS era, which began in 1998. That started with back-to-back Outback Bowl losses against South Carolina in 2001-02. 

No. 14 South Carolina beat No. 22 Ohio State 24-7 on Jan. 1, 2001, which was Cooper’s last game as the Buckeyes’ coach. The following season, No. 14 South Carolina beat No. 22 Ohio State 31-28 in Jim Tressel’s first bowl game. 

Tressel would lead Ohio State to back-to-back BCS championship appearances in 2006 and 2007. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 both times, but they were rough losses. Florida – led by future Ohio State coach Urban Meyer – beat Ohio State 41-14 in the first one, and LSU beat the Buckeyes 38-24 the following season. 

No. 6 Ohio State finally broke the curse against No. 8 Arkansas with a 31-26 victory in the Sugar Bowl on Nov. 4, 2011, but that win was later vacated because of NCAA violations. The following season, Florida beat Ohio State 24-17 in the Gator Bowl. 

MORE: Revisiting Kirk Herbstreit’s 1993 Citrus Bowl vs. Georgia, a lowlight in his Ohio State playing career

Ohio State vs. SEC in College Football Playoff 

It took a former SEC coach to break the SEC curse. Meyer, who took over at Ohio State in the 2012 season, led the Buckeyes to their first bowl victory against a SEC opponent on the biggest stage possible. 

No. 4 Ohio State met No. 1 Alabama in the first year of the College Football Playoff in the Sugar Bowl semifinal. Ezekiel Elliott’s 85-yard touchdown run helped seal a 42-35 victory, and the Buckeyes won the national championship with a 42-20 victory in the CFP championship game. 

The Crimson Tide met Ohio State in a rematch in the 2020 season in the CFP championship in a COVID-19 impacted season. That was Ryan Day’s second season as a head coach, and Alabama routed Ohio State 52-20. 

Ohio State vs. Georgia in 2022

Now, Georgia and Ohio State will meet for the first time since the 1993 Citrus Bowl in a matchup of heavyweights. The Bulldogs are 6.5-point favorites in the game, and they are playing close to home in Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Georgia also is 10-2 against Big Ten schools in bowl games. 

It’s a strength on strength matchup. Ohio State ranks second in the FBS with 44.5 points per game. Georgia ranks second in scoring defense at 12.8 points per game. Both rosters are flush with future NFL talent, and the winner likely would be favored in the CFP championship game. 

Will the Buckeyes score a huge victory against the Bulldogs and the SEC? Or will those bowl-game narratives resurface with a loss?