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Monday, January 24, 2011

A "Vest"rospective Look Back At Jim Tressel's First OSU Decade: The Bowl Wins (Sixth In A Series)

In the third part of the series, I wrote about Coach Tressel's ten seasons as head football coach at Ohio State. Over the span of his first ten years at Ohio State, Coach Tressel has compiled a winning bowl record at Ohio State (6-4), and I wanted to take a moment to rank the bowl game victories as I see them.

6. Oklahoma State, 2004 Alamo Bowl ~ Ohio State won this game easily, 33-7. Justin Zwick earned the start for the suspended Troy Smith, and even Ted Ginn, Jr. got into the act at quarterback. This game definitely qualified as a consolation game for Ohio State, helping the Buckeyes to close out with an 8-4 record. Ohio State finished the year ranked 19th in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, 20th in the AP poll.

5. Kansas State, 2004 Fiesta Bowl ~ Another thoroughly dominant performance by Ohio State, despite what the final score showed (35-28). Ohio State led this game 35-14 before taking their foot off the gas, allowing Kansas State to get back into it. Ohio State finished 11-2, ranked 4th in both polls.

4. Notre Dame, 2006 Fiesta Bowl ~ This was the bowl game performance that led college football fans to rank Ohio State the preseason favorite for 2006. Ohio State rolled up 617 yards of total offense on Notre Dame. Considering this was also a battle between future brothers-in law (A.J. Hawk of Ohio State, Brady Quinn of Notre Dame), this also brought out some interesting signs from the Ohio State fans in attendance. Ohio State finished 10-2, ranked 4th in both polls.

3. Oregon, 2010 Rose Bowl ~ Ohio State had lost three straight bowl games, and was considered to be too slow to stop Oregon's high-scoring, fast-paced offense. Ohio State QB Terrelle Pryor, with a partially torn PCL, kept Oregon off balance with effective passing and timely running. Surprisingly, someone actually predicted "Tressel Ball" to be the solid strategy and difference in this game that halted Ohio State's streak of bowl losses. Ohio State finished the season ranked 5th in both polls.

2. Arkansas, 2011 Sugar Bowl ~ All Ohio State fans, players, and coaches kept hearing and reading about was how Ohio State was 0-9 against the SEC in bowl games. The "Tattoo 5" controversy overshadowed the talk of the streak in the days leading up to the game. Surprisingly, someone again actually predicted an Ohio State victory against a supposedly faster opponent. Despite a rather conservative game plan in the second half (Terrelle Pryor threw the ball only six times in the second half), as well as an injury-depleted secondary, Ohio State held on for a nailbiter to edge Arkansas, 31-26. Ohio State finished the season ranked 5th in both polls at season's end.

1. Miami (FL), 2003 Fiesta Bowl ~ Ranked as one of the greatest games in football history, the Ohio State victory over Miami for its first national championship since 1968 was the first national championship game to go into overtime. For a team that lived on the edge all season, going into double overtime, and winning the game on a 4th down, goal line stand seemed a fitting way to win.

The talent level alone was extraordinary - of the 43 starters, 37 players went on to play in the NFL (86%).

One thing to consider - what did Clinton Portis do after he could not throw his celebration party for the Hurricanes?

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