Ohio State's 1999 Sugar Bowl win was nice, but could have been sweeter
Jan. 1, 1999
Each week, Gameday+ takes a look at an Ohio State game played on this date:
Ohio State 24, Texas A&M 14
The Sugar Bowl against Clemson won’t be the first time Ohio State takes the field for a postseason game in New Orleans hoping a win would lead to a national title. Why, just six years ago the Buckeyes created lifetime memories for OSU fans with a victory against Alabama in the Superdome. Cardale, Zeke … legendary. A Buckeyes game in the Crescent City seven years prior was, ahem, less dreamy, a thumping loss to LSU in the BCS Championship game to close the 2007 season.
But the first time Ohio State played in 'Nawlins with designs on a title was something of a mix of those two games. In 1998, the first year of the Bowl Championship Series, the one-loss, No. 3 Buckeyes accepted a Sugar Bowl matchup against No. 8 Texas A&M hoping that a dominating victory would lead some voters to pick them over one-loss Florida State — if the No. 2 Seminoles were to beat No. 1 Tennessee three nights later in the title game in Arizona. In the end, OSU got neither the style points nor the Florida State help it sought.
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Senior quarterback Joe Germaine and junior receiver David Boston capped their OSU careers with strong games, Germaine passing for 222 yards and game MVP Boston hauling in 11 passes for 105 yards. Joe Montgomery added 96 yards rushing and a touchdown, and a defense led by departing seniors Jerry Rudzinski and Antoine Winfield stifled A&M, allowing only 283 yards.
The Buckeyes spotted A&M an early 7-0 lead, then ran off three touchdowns in a 6½-minute span of the first quarter on Germaine’s 18-yard TD pass to Reggie Germany, Montgomery’s 10-yard scoring run and Kevin Griffin’s 16-yard return of a punt blocked by Derek Ross. After that Ohio State added only a field goal by Dan Stultz, who missed two others, but the defense never allowed the Aggies any real hope.
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Ohio State’s bid for a piece of a national championship — the coaches already had declared that the Tennessee-Florida State winner would win its title — was a long-shot hope, at best, after the Buckeyes had lost their No. 1 ranking in an upset loss to Michigan State in November. And in the Sugar Bowl, OSU did itself no favors by failing to hang 50-plus on the Aggies. (Besides, the Volunteers took care of FSU to cap an undefeated season.) Still, the victory over A&M gave the Buckeyes wins against Michigan and in a bowl game in the same season for the first time in coach John Cooper’s 11 years and the first time since 1982.
“Obviously, those two victories are special. Any time you beat Michigan and any time you win a bowl game — you don’t play a bad team in a bowl game. Any time you do that, it’s going to make the winter a little warmer.” — Cooper, whose OSU record improved to 3-7 in bowls.