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Alabama won the first three in the series before Ohio State turned the Tide

Ray Stein
Buckeye Xtra

A brief look at the previous meetings between Ohio State and Alabama, who play Monday in the College Football Playoff championship game:

1978 Sugar Bowl

Date: Jan. 2, 1978 

Site: New Orleans

Score: No. 3 Alabama 35, No. 9 Ohio State 6 

Star: Crimson Tide quarterback Jeff Rutledge was named game MVP after completing 8 of 11 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. 

The skinny: The first matchup between the two storied programs was a lopsided affair notable only for being the first and only meeting between legendary coaches Paul “Bear” Bryant of Alabama and Woody Hayes of Ohio State. The game itself was a mauling: Alabama led 13-0 at halftime, prompting Hayes to punch a goalpost on his way to the locker room. The win propelled the Tide to No. 2 in the final polls, but they were leapfrogged by No. 5 Notre Dame for the national title. 

He said it: “They beat us with a team that had half the talent we had. Our team had about a quarter of the coaching their team got.” — Hayes

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1986 Kickoff Classic

Date: Aug. 27, 1986 

Site: East Rutherford, N.J.

Score: No. 5 Alabama 16, No. 9 Ohio State 10 

Star: 'Bama kicker Van Tiffin kicked three field goals, including a 28-yarder with 1:02 remaining to account for the final margin. 

The skinny: The 1986 opener in the Meadowlands was a sloppy mess, the teams combining for seven turnovers and OSU’s Pat O’Morrow missing two field-goal attempts. Alabama scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, then survived a bizarre finish in which Ohio State twice ran untimed plays because of pass interference on Tide linebacker Derrick Thomas. Jim Karsatos’ last-gasp attempt to Cris Carter from the Alabama 18 fell incomplete to end the game.

He said it: “I told our players it wasn’t pretty. But who said it had to be pretty?” — Alabama coach Ray Perkins 

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1995 Citrus Bowl

Date: Jan. 2, 1995 

Site: Orlando, Fla.

Score: No. 6 Alabama 24, No. 13 Ohio State 17 

Star: Crimson Tide running back Sherman Williams rushed for 166 yards, caught eight passes for 155 yards and scored two touchdowns. 

Sherman Williams of Alabama bursts past Ohio State defensive end Mike Vrabel for the winning touchdown in the Crimson Tide's 1995 Citrus Bowl victory.

The skinny: Coach John Cooper’s Buckeyes were largely outplayed, yet they led Alabama 17-14 with five minutes remaining thanks to two Joey Galloway touchdown catches and a defense that came up with three fumble recoveries, a blocked punt and a blocked field-goal try. The Tide got a tying field goal, then broke OSU’s heart when Williams accepted Jay Barker’s short pass over the middle and jetted his way for the go-ahead, 50-yard touchdown with 42 seconds remaining. SEC speed, they called it.

He said it: “That’s what happens. One guy makes a play, and one guy doesn’t make a play. Obviously you don’t expect a 4-yard pass to score but …” — Alabama coach Gene Stallings, on the winning TD

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2015 Sugar Bowl

Date: Jan. 1, 2015 

Site: New Orleans

Score: No. 4 Ohio State 42, No. 1 Alabama 35 

rstein@dispatch.com

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