On paper, John Cooper’s 1996 Buckeyes had a banner, his best in Columbus. But OSU fans will probably remember that season more for what might have been.
The Buckeyes won 11 games, captured the Big Ten title and defeated previously undefeated Arizona State 20-17 in one of the most exciting Rose Bowls ever contested. Left tackle Orlando Pace would become the top overall pick in the ensuing NFL Draft and the defense featured future NFL standouts like Mike Vrabel and Shawn Springs.
But the one loss really stung. Ohio State was 10-0 and ranked second when the Buckeyes lost in Columbus to Michigan 13-9. The loss bumped them down to fourth in the polls, and even the win over the Sun Devils couldn’t propel them back up to the top. Florida won the national championship while OSU finished second in the polls.
Cooper coached for 13 seasons at Ohio State. His record versus Michigan? 2-10-1.