We are continuing our simulation series where we use our friends at WhatifSports.com to simulate matchups of the best Ohio State teams over the last 20 years. It may (or may not) determine which OSU team was the best over that time, but hey, it’s all good fun either way, right? We’re going to the second half of the bracket in the first round with 1996 vs. 2003.
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Ohio State Football Simulation Series: Round One, Game Five – 1996 vs. 2003
As we talked about last week, we’re going through the best Ohio State teams of the last twenty years by holding a single-elimination tournament of sixteen seeded teams. We’ve already gone through the top half of the bracket, and now we are focusing on the bottom half.
And as a reminder, we used the seeding method used by the Sports-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System (SRS) to seed the teams. SRS uses both strength of schedule and margin of victory, so it gives preference to teams that beat quality opponents — not necessarily where you might think teams would be slotted based on record and trophies.
Here we go with the 1996 team vs. the 2003 team.
(3) 1996 vs. (14) 2003
Setting The Table
The 1996 team was another one of those John Cooper teams of the mid-90’s that had all the talent in the world and could have done more. In retrospect, it was still a fantastic year with a stifling defense and a two-quarterback system that actually worked.
Joe Germaine was the quarterback that could sling it around a bit, and for a change of pace, Stanley Jackson could come in and add a dual-threat to the equation. This particular Buckeye team won every single game aside from a hard to swallow loss to Michigan 13-9. The team would rebound in an all-timer of a Rose Bowl, knocking off an undefeated Arizona State team in the waning moments. The team would finish No. 2 in the final AP Poll.
The 2003 team underachieved despite finishing the season at 11-2, including a win in the Fiesta Bowl over Kansas State. There team had a lot of pieces coming back after the memorable run to the national title in 2002 including Craig Krenzel at QB, but instead of putting the foot on the gas, the Buckeyes lost in Madison to a hungry and emotionally charged Wisconsin team 10-7, then fell again to Michigan in Ann Arbor 35-21 with a berth in the BCS Championship on the line.
How It All Went Down
Just as he did in the 1997 Rose Bowl, Joe Germaine came off the bench to provide a spark and lead the 1996 squad to victory.
With the defenses getting the upper hand in the contest for most of the first two and a half quarters, John Cooper brought in Germaine for a series to try to break a 3-3 deadlock. He responded by connecting on two of his three attempts, including a crucial 24-yard strike that gave the 1996 Buckeyes first and goal at the three-yard line.
That turned out to be all of the offense that Cooper’s team would need. The 1996 defense dominated the line of scrimmage all afternoon, holding the 2003 squad to just 53 yards on 38 carries. It was especially tough on third down, limiting 2003 OSU to convert on just four of its 16 opportunities.
Final Score And Link To Summary