Ohio State has played 1,309 games in its storied history and boast a .731 winning percentage (930-326-53), which is tied with Boise State for the highest among Football Bowl Subdivision schools, but – believe it or not – there are a handful of programs the Buckeyes have never beaten. That includes Clemson, Ohio State’s opponent in the 2021 Sugar Bowl, as the Tigers have beaten the Buckeyes in all four of their previous matchups.
So who are the seven other FBS schools that hold bragging rights and remain unbeaten against Ohio State? Take a look below:
The 1978 Gator Bowl is considered one of the darkest moments in Ohio State history, as head coach Woody Hayes was fired after he punched Clemson’s Charlie Bauman following an interception late in the Buckeyes’ 17-15 loss to the Tigers.
The two teams did not meet again until the 2014 Orange Bowl, which turned into an unexpected shootout. Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins set an Orange Bowl record with 16 catches for 227 yards to lead the Tigers to a 40-35 win. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller – who suffered a shoulder injury during the game that would ultimately require surgery and force him to move to wide receiver later in his career – threw for 234 yards and running back Carlos Hyde ran for 113 more for the Buckeyes, who lost for the first time in school history while scoring 35 points or more.
Clemson and Ohio State played for the third time in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, with the Tigers advancing to the national championship with a 31-0 win. The Buckeyes were limited to just 215 yards of total offense and nine first downs and were shut out for the first time since a 28-0 loss at Michigan in 1993. It was also Ohio State’s first shutout loss in a bowl game since the 1921 Rose Bowl against Cal (28-0).
The most recent meeting for between the two programs came in the 2019 Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State and first-year head coach Ryan Day jumped out to a 16-0 lead with seven minutes in the first half thanks to a pair of 60-plus yard runs from junior running back J.K. Dobbins, but Clemson added two quick scores to cut the deficit to two at the half. The Buckeyes and Tigers exchanged the lead three times in the second half, but quarterback Justin Fields was intercepted in the end zone with 37 seconds remaining to give Clemson the 29-23 win, advancing the Tigers to the national title game.
Florida State (0-3)
Ohio State quarterback Art Schlichter threw for 458 yards and two touchdowns and wide receiver Garry Williams caught a school record 13 passes for 220 yards and two scores, but it was not enough as Florida State pulled off a 36-27 upset win at Ohio Stadium in the fourth game of the 1981 season.
The Seminoles were still considered an up-and-coming program at the time and returned to Columbus again the next season. The Buckeyes were unable to stop the tailback tandem of Greg Allen and Ricky Williams, who combined for 181 yards and two touchdowns in the 34-17 win.
Ohio State took an early 3-0 lead in their next meeting with Florida State in the 1998 Sugar Bowl, but the Seminoles scored 21 straight points to take a commanding halftime lead. The Buckeyes cut the lead to 24-14 in the fourth quarter when quarterback Joe Germaine threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to tight end John Lumpkin, but Florida State scored again with 47 seconds remaining to get the final score of 31-14.
Ohio State jumped out to a 7-0 lead when Ted Ginn returned the opening kickoff of the 2007 BCS National Championship for a touchdown, but Florida and head coach Urban Meyer overwhelmed the Buckeyes from there on the way to a shocking 41-14 upset.
Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith completed just 4 of 14 passes for 35 yards and one interception, was sacked five times and was held to minus-29 yards rushing on 10 attempts.
Meyer was then named Ohio State’s next head coach a little over one month before the two programs met in the 2012 Gator Bowl. The Gators relied on dominant special teams play that afternoon, including a kick return and a blocked punt return for a touchdown, to beat the Buckeyes and interim head coach Luke Fickell, 24-17.
South Carolina (0-2)
South Carolina running back Ryan Brewer, an Ohio native, rushed 19 times for 109 yards, caught three passes for 92 yards and scored three touchdowns (two rushing) to lead the Gamecocks to a 24-7 win over Ohio State in the 2001 Outback Bowl. It was John Cooper’s final game as head coach for the Buckeyes.
The first bowl game of the Jim Tressel era had the same outcome for Ohio State, meanwhile as the Buckeyes fell to the Gamecocks in the 2002 Outback Bowl. Ohio State stormed back from a 21-point, fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game, only to surrender the game-winning field goal as time expired, giving South Carolina a 31-28 victory.
Auburn and Ohio State played to a scoreless tie in their first meeting in 1917, when the Buckeyes were two-touchdown favorites over the Tigers (known then as the Plainsmen). Chic Harley missed two field goals and was unable to get into the end zone despite impressive runs of 45, 25 and 20 yards throughout the game.
The two teams met again in the 1990 Hall of Fame Bowl, and Auburn got four touchdowns (three passing) from quarterback Reggie Slack in a 31-14 win. Wide receiver Jeff Graham was the lone star for the Buckeyes, as he finished the game with five catches for 103 yards.
Ohio State was up 14-3 early when defensive back Zack Dumas leveled running back Stacy Danley on a third-down pass. The Tigers scored 28 straight points after that hit.
Air Force (0-1)
Air Force held Ohio State running back Robert Smith, who that season broke Archie Griffin’s freshman rushing record, to just 62 yards and one score in a 23-11 win over the Buckeyes in the 1990 Liberty Bowl. The Falcons meanwhile, finished the game with just 11 yards passing and 254 yards on the ground, including 93 from third-string quarterback Rob Perez.
Running back Garrison Hearst rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns to help Georgia to a 21-14 win over Ohio State, earning himself most valuable player of the 1993 Citrus Bowl. Smith rushed for 113 yards and one score for the Buckeyes, who suffered their fourth straight bowl defeat that afternoon.
Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning threw for 182 yards and one touchdown and the Volunteers’ defense held Ohio State’s Heisman Trophy-winning running back Eddie George to a season-low 89 yards and one touchdown in a 20-14 win over the Buckeyes in the 1996 Citrus Bowl.
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