Worst Football Opponents of the-Ozone Era
By Rob Ogden
The Florida A &M Rattlers are coming to town this weekend and the Buckeyes are 57-point favorites. That got us thinking, who are the worst teams the Buckeyes have faced in the last few years.
Here's the top five worst Football Bowl Subdivision teams Ohio State has faced during the Ozone era (1996 to present) starting with the most recent.
The 2011 Akron Zips (1-11):
celebrates a touchdown against Akron
Photo by Dan Harker
The 2011 Buckeyes were one of the worst teams in the history of Ohio State football, yet they still managed to beat the Zips 42-0, and that was before Braxton Miller was named the starting quarterback.
Coached by former Notre Dame receivers coach Rob Ianello, Akron finished the season 1-11 with its only win coming against VMI. Ianello was fired following the 2011 season after going 2-22 in his two seasons as Akron's head coach.
Joe Bauserman ran for a touchdown and hooked up with Jake Stoneburner for three scores through the air. Braxton Miller threw his first-career touchdown as he connected with Devin Smith for the score.
Things have not improved much for the Zips recently. They finished 2012 at 1-11 for the third consecutive season.
The 2010 Eastern Michigan Eagles (2-10):
Terrelle Pryor rambles for yardage against Eastern Michigan
Photo by Jim Davidson
You know it's bad when the 73-20 pounding the Eagles took at the hands of the Buckeyes wasn't even the worst loss of the season. A few weeks later, Eastern Michigan lost to Northern Illinois 71-3, and finished the season an abysmal 2-10.
Terrelle Pryor threw for four touchdowns, ran for one and caught another as Jordan Hall threw his only career touchdown pass, a 20-yard completion to his former high school teammate.
Kenny Guiton added a late touchdown run, as well.
Ohio State hadn't scored that many points since an 83-21 win over Iowa in 1950. Maybe Jim Tressel was getting revenge for the four times he lost to the Eagles while he was head coach at Youngstown State.
The 1997 Illinois Fighting Illini (0-11):
Under first-year coach Ron Turner, the 1997 Fighting Illini became the first Big Ten team to go winless since Northwestern in 1989. The 41-6 loss the Buckeyes handed Illinois was the Illini's 16th-consecutive defeat.
Illinois avoided the being shutout only when fourth-string Ohio State quarterback Steve Gehlert fumbled with seconds remaining and Illinois returned the fumble for a score.
Pepe Pearson and Stanley Jackson played their final game at Ohio Stadium in the win. Illinois remains the last Big Ten team to go winless in an entire season.
The 1996 Rice Owls (7-4):
Pearson and Michael Wiley each accounted for three touchdowns as the Buckeyes pounded Rice 70-7 in the opening game of the 1996 season. Following the loss, the Owls pulled it together and managed to win seven games.
The game was the debut of Wiley and David Boston, who caught his first-career touchdown pass. The Buckeyes out-gained the Owls 632-218.
The 1996 Pitt Panthers (4-7):
The Buckeyes followed up the win against Rice with another blowout — one of the largest in Ohio State history as the Buckeyes shut out Pitt 72-0.
142 points scored in the two games set an Ohio State record for most points scored in consecutive games. The combined 135-point margin of victory was a new record, as well.
Pearson again went for three touchdowns and Boston added three, as well. Ohio State out-gained Pitt 602-120 and had 29 first downs while holding Pitt to only four.
Ohio State led 52-0 at the half in what turned out to be the worst defeat in Pitt's history. The Panthers were shut out three times in their first five games of the season.
The game resulted in Ohio State's largest margin of victory in a shutout since a 76-0 over Western Reserve in 1934.
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