What Should We All Have Had From 2001-10?

What Should We All Have Had From 2001-10?

Submitted by Gordon on June 9th, 2011 at 12:36 AM

One of the pressing topics around the whole implosion of Ohio State University Football is how that team dominated the Big Ten illegally.  The team won games they shouldn't, with the most obvious being the 2011 Sugar Bowl.  Ohio State shouldn't have played as well in that game, and frankly shouldn't have been in it at all.

Everyone seems to be talking about what Ohio State's record books will look like when all this is done.  Seasons getting voided, players getting wiped out, all of that.

With that in mind, I'd like to take a look back at what truly should have been.  What seasons should have gone differently for the various schools tormented by Tressel?  What teams got screwed out of bowl games, out of national championships, out of huge victories?  There's many victims of Ohio State's illegal run besides us here in Ann Arbor.

Let's take a look back, year-by-year.  Here are the basic ground rules to keep in mind:

- Ohio State wouldn't have realistically lost every game.  At worst, they'd have been a version of the 2009-10 Wolverines:  losing many games, but not completely out of it.  So, close games in Columbus will now tip towards the visitor, and fairly close by the Buckeyes will also  go towards their opponents.  I'd assume that Ohio State would still be pretty good, just not great.  Or, if they were amazing, simply great.

- I'm not going to go back to look for specific players, instead the entire team will be downgraded.  Specifically, i don't want to wade through Ohio State game logs to figure out how much of an effect a replacement RB would have had over Maurice Clarett, for example.

- Except when it ties into Michigan, no frivolous extraneous circumstances.  So, no jobs will be saved by a miracle win over the Buckeyes that leads to a random Big Ten coach keeping his job.  I don't want to open up too much alternate history.

- I'm mainly focusing on the Big Ten championship race, and the national championship race, when applicable.  No September non-conference wins that led to some opponent winning another conference.

- No recruiting alternate histories.  The only players that would be added to different games are the guys that picked the school in the first place.  This opens up one scenario later on.  Existing transfers can still happen though.  Ohio State gets the same general recruits they had before, only they are universally downgraded.  The assumption is that Ohio State, even in bad times, would still get some great players, as they are Ohio State.

- Things in bold are major changes.

Okay, on to the games...

 

2001
 
Ohio State's actual schedule
 
Sep 8 Akron            W  28-14
Sep22 at UCLA          L   6-13
Sep29 at Indiana       W  27-14
Oct 6 Northwestern     W  38-20
Oct13 Wisconsin        L  17-20
Oct20 San Diego State  W  27-12
Oct27 at Penn State    L  27-29
Nov 3 at Minnesota     W  31-28
Nov10 Purdue           W  35-9
Nov17 Illinois         L  22-34
Nov24 at Michigan      W  26-20
Jan 1 South Carolina   L  28-31 (Outback Bowl)
 
Ohio State's revised schedule
 
Sep 8 Akron            W
Sep22 at UCLA          L
Sep29 at Indiana       W
Oct 6 Northwestern     W
Oct13 Wisconsin        L
Oct20 San Diego State  W
Oct27 at Penn State    L
Nov 3 at Minnesota     L
Nov10 Purdue           W
Nov17 Illinois         L
Nov24 at Michigan      L
 
A rough start for Jim Tressel.  As he takes over a program in crisis, he can only manage five wins, dropping Ohio State out of bowl contention.  Games that were turned into losses were a squeaker win at Minnesota, and the season finale at Michigan.  Both wins cause great concern going into the offseason, as the pressure builds for 2002.
 
Actual Big Ten standings
 
#12 Illinois        7–1 10–2
#20 Michigan        6–2  8–4
    Ohio State      5–3  7–5
    Iowa            4–4  7–5
    Purdue          4–4  6–6
    Indiana         4–4  5-6
    Penn State      4–4  5–6
    Michigan State  3–5  7–5
    Wisconsin         3–5  5–7
    Minnesota         2–6  4–7
    Northwestern    2–6 4–7
 
Revised Big Ten standings
 
# 8 Michigan        7–1  9–3
#10 Illinois        7–1 10–2
    Iowa            4–4  7–5
    Purdue          4–4  6–6
    Indiana         4–4  5-6
    Penn State      4–4  5–6
    Michigan State  3–5  7–5
    Minnesota       3–5  5–6
    Wisconsin       3–5  5–7
    Ohio State      3–5  5–7
    Northwestern    2–6 4–7
 
Under this new history, Michigan and Illinois would have shared the Big Ten championship in 2001, and Michigan would have represented the conference in the BCS (thanks to a victory over Illinois).  That year, since the Wolverines wouldn't have contended for the national title, Michigan would play LSU in the Sugar Bowl (like Illinois did).  Since both Michigan and LSU pasted Illinois by similar scores during the season, it would've been a good game.
 
There were no national changes.  Both Miami and Nebraska had no contact with Ohio State during the season in any way.
 
2002
 
Ohio State's actual schedule
 
Aug24 Texas Tech        W 45-21
Sep 7 Kent State        W 51-17
Sep14 Washington State  W 25-7
Sep21 at Cincinnati     W 23-19
Sep28 Indiana           W 45-17
Oct 5 at Northwestern   W 27-16
Oct12 San Jose State    W 50-7
Oct19 at Wisconsin      W 19-14
Oct26 Penn State        W 13-7
Nov 2 Minnesota         W 34-3
Nov 9 at Purdue         W 10-6
Nov16 at Illinois       W 23-16
Nov23 Michigan          W 14-9
Jan 3 Miami             W 31-24 (Fiesta Bowl NC)
 
Ohio State's revised schedule
 
Aug24 Texas Tech        W
Sep 7 Kent State        W
Sep14 Washington State  W
Sep21 at Cincinnati     L
Sep28 Indiana           W
Oct 5 at Northwestern   W
Oct12 San Jose State    W
Oct19 at Wisconsin      W
Oct26 Penn State        L
Nov 2 Minnesota         W
Nov 9 at Purdue         L
Nov16 at Illinois       W
Nov23 Michigan          L
Jan 1 Auburn            W (Capital One Bowl)
 
Here's where things get interesting.  Yes, Ohio State does have a rebound year in 2002.  Unfortunately, it's not as glorious of one.  The Buckeyes end the season at 9-4, playing on New Year's Day against Auburn, where they beat the Tigers.  To start the season, Ohio State was picked to rapidly improve, and the team hit all their reasonable targets, except for a letdown upset in Cincinnati.  In that game, only a late interception gave Ohio State the original win, so I made that a loss this time around.  Also, the Krenzel bomb on 4th down can't set up a win against Purdue, Penn State ends up being solid enough to beat the Buckeyes, and a Michigan juggernaut pulls out a close one in Columbus.  Other than that, Jim Tressel gets nine wins, Maurice Clarett becomes a Heisman hopeful for future seasons (as he's not dominating enough to get any pro ideas), and Ohio State becomes a team right on the brink of winning a big one.
 
Actual Big Ten standings
 
# 1 Ohio State      8–0 14–0
# 8 Iowa            8–0 11–2
# 9 Michigan        6–2 10–3
#16 Penn State      5–3  9–4
    Purdue          4–4  7–6
    Illinois        4–4  5–7
    Minnesota       3–5  8–5
    Wisconsin       2–6  8–6
    Michigan State  2–6  4–8
    Northwestern    1–7  3–9
    Indiana         1–7  3–9
 
Revised Big Ten standings
 
# 4 Iowa            8–0 11–2
# 6 Michigan        7–1 11–2
#12 Penn State      6–2 10–3
    Purdue          5–3  8–5
#20 Ohio State      5–3 11–3
    Illinois        4–4  5–7
    Minnesota       3–5  8–5
    Wisconsin       2–6  8–6
    Michigan State  2–6  4–8
    Northwestern    1–7  3–9
    Indiana         1–7  3–9
 
The big winner here is Iowa.  The Hawkeyes become the 2002 Big Ten champions, and cause a huge logjam at the top of the BCS standings.  Iowa would go on to play Washington State in the Rose Bowl, and Michigan would go on to play future rival USC in the Orange Bowl, taking Ohio State's BCS spot.  Penn State would move up to the Outback Bowl, and Ohio State would settle for the Capital One Bowl.
 
Nationally, Miami becomes the consensus #1 team in the nation as the last undefeated power.  However, there suddenly becomes a controversy over who is the #2 team.  The Georgia Bulldogs play for the national title.  As they were originally the #3 team in the country, Georgia uses a win in the SEC Championship Game to vault over fellow one-loss Iowa to play for the national championship.  In the end though, the Miami Hurricanes are 2002 National Champions.
 
2003
 
Ohio State's actual schedule
 
Aug30 Washington       W 28-9
Sep 6 San Diego State  W 16-13
Sep13 NC State         W 44-38 3OT
Sep20 Bowling Green    W 24-17
Sep27 Northwestern     W 20-0
Oct11 at Wisconsin     L 10-17
Oct18 Iowa             W 19-10
Oct25 at Indiana       W 35-6
Nov 1 at Penn State    W 21-20
Nov 8 Michigan State   W 33-23
Nov15 Purdue           W 16-13 OT
Nov22 at Michigan      L 21-35
Jan 2 Kansas State     W 35-28 (Fiesta Bowl)
 
Ohio State's revised schedule
 
Aug30 Washington       W
Sep 6 San Diego State  W
Sep13 NC State         L
Sep20 Bowling Green    W
Sep27 Northwestern     W
Oct11 at Wisconsin     L
Oct18 Iowa             W
Oct25 at Indiana       W
Nov 1 at Penn State    W
Nov 8 Michigan State   W
Nov15 Purdue           W
Nov22 at Michigan      L
 
Jan 1 Georgia          L (Capital One Bowl)
 
Looking at Ohio State's schedule, the 2003 Buckeyes had so many games that they just barely won.  It's really quite amazing that they even managed the actual season that they did.  With that in mind, there's only one other loss I could tack onto this season, what was a triple-OT win over North Carolina State.  Triple-OT is close enough to fall the other way, even if this team now has Maurice Clarett.  Other wins that could come into question were ones over Purdue, Penn State, and San Diego State.  Again, I'm trusting that Clarett would've given them a little bit more of an edge to compensate for what I'm taking away.  Tressel would still play in January, only in Orlando, instead of in the BCS.
 
Of course, Maurice Clarett is still a total bonehead, and leaves college for the NFL draft after the season.
 
Actual Big Ten standings
 
# 6 Michigan        7–1 10–3
# 4 Ohio State      6–2 11–2
#18 Purdue          6–2 9–4
# 8 Iowa            5–3 10–3
#20 Minnesota       5–3 10–3
    Michigan State  5–3 8–5
    Wisconsin       4–4 7–6
    Northwestern    4–4 6–7
    Penn State      1–7 3–9
    Indiana         1–7 2–10
    Illinois        0–8 1–11
 
Revised Big Ten standings
 
# 6 Michigan        7–1 10–3
#16 Ohio State      6–2 10–3
#18 Purdue          6–2 9–4
# 8 Iowa            5–3 10–3
#20 Minnesota       5–3 10–3
    Michigan State  5–3 8–5
    Wisconsin       4–4 7–6
    Northwestern    4–4 6–7
    Penn State      1–7 3–9
    Indiana         1–7 2–10
    Illinois        0–8 1–11
 
Michigan wins the Big Ten in 2003, just like in real life.  The last game of the season, as per tradition, ultimately decides the title, as Chris Perry wins the running back battle over Clarett.
 
The big change here is Ohio State's national ranking.  That loss to NC State proved to be a constant weight on the season, dragging down the Buckeyes.  By not beating Michigan for the conference championship, Ohio State drops out of BCS consideration.  The Buckeyes' spot in the BCS goes to Tennessee, the second-place finisher in the SEC.  The Volunteers defeat Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, just like Ohio State did.
 
Nationally, there is no effect on the controversial split title.  LSU beats Oklahoma in the official title game, while #1 ranked USC defeats Michigan in the Rose Bowl.  Ultimately, Michigan couldn't vault into that top-two due to Ohio State's subpar performance, and the Wolverines couldn't get part of the split title with their loss.  A rivalry begins to develop between Michigan and USC, with two straight bowl games.  LSU and USC are still national champions for 2003.
 
2004
 
Ohio State's actual schedule
 
Sep 4 Cincinnati         W  27-6
Sep11 Marshall           W  24-21
Sep18 at NC State        W  22-14
Oct 2 at Northwestern    L  27-33
Oct 9 Wisconsin          L  13-24
Oct16 at Iowa            L   7-33
Oct23 Indiana            W  30-7
Oct30 Penn State         W  21-10
Nov 6 at Michigan State  W  32-19
Nov13 at Purdue          L  17-24
Nov20 Michigan           W  37-21
Dec29 Oklahoma State     W  33-7   (Alamo Bowl)
 
Ohio State's revised schedule
 
Sep 4 Cincinnati         W
Sep11 Marshall           L
Sep18 at NC State        W
Oct 2 at Northwestern    L
Oct 9 Wisconsin          L
Oct16 at Iowa            L
Oct23 Indiana            W
Oct30 Penn State         L
Nov 6 at Michigan State  W
Nov13 at Purdue          L
Nov20 Michigan           W
 
Ohio State was a really crappy football team in 2004, and the ensuing chaos only makes them intolerably bad.  The Buckeyes are given losses against Marshall, and against Penn State, both games that should've gone the other way.  That drops the team from 7-4 to 5-6, and out of bowl contention.  Jim Tressel immediately becomes Embattled Jim Tressel.  Poorly designed websites are launched, and Utah coach Urban Meyer is called for.  The victory over Michigan still stands, as I remember that game.  Michigan would have lost to anyone that day.
 
Actual Big Ten standings
 
# 8 Iowa            7–1 10–2
#14 Michigan        7–1  9-3
#17 Wisconsin       6–2  9–3
    Northwestern    5–3  6–6
#20 Ohio State      4–4  8–4
    Purdue          4–4  7–5
    Michigan State  4–4  5–7
    Minnesota       3–5  7–5
    Penn State      2–6  4–7
    Illinois        1–7  3–8
    Indiana         1–7  3–8
 
Revised Big Ten standings
 
# 8 Iowa            7–1 10–2
#14 Michigan        7–1  9-3
#17 Wisconsin       6–2  9–3
    Northwestern    5–3  6–6
    Purdue          4–4  7–5
    Michigan State  4–4  5–7
    Minnesota       3–5  7–5
    Penn State      3–5  5–6
    Ohio State      3–5  5–6
    Illinois        1–7  3–8
    Indiana         1–7  3–8
 
No real changes here.  Michigan and Iowa tie for the Big Ten championship.  Michigan goes to the Rose Bowl, and loses to Texas.  Iowa loses out on the BCS.  USC defeats Oklahoma for the championship, just like in real life.  Nothing to change here.  Move along.
 
2005
 
Ohio State's actual schedule
 
Sep 3 Miami (OH)       W 34-14
Sep10 Texas            L 22-25
Sep17 San Diego State  W 27-6
Sep24 Iowa             W 31-6
Oct 8 at Penn State    L 10-17
Oct15 Michigan State   W 35-24
Oct22 at Indiana       W 41-10
Oct29 at Minnesota     W 45-31
Nov 5 Illinois         W 40-2
Nov12 Northwestern     W 48-7
Nov19 at Michigan      W 25-21
Jan 2 Notre Dame       W 34-20  (Fiesta Bowl)
 
Ohio State's revised schedule
 
Sep 3 Miami (OH)       W
Sep10 Texas            L
Sep17 San Diego State  W
Sep24 Iowa             W
Oct 8 at Penn State    L
Oct15 Michigan State   W
Oct22 at Indiana       W
Oct29 at Minnesota     W
Nov 5 Illinois         W
Nov12 Northwestern     W
Nov19 at Michigan      L
Jan 1 Auburn           W (Capital One Bowl)
 
As I'm trying hard not to look like a homer, this season was the hardest one to do. Obviously, some change had to be made.  Unfortunately, every Ohio State win was pretty resounding...except for one.  Therefore, the tables get turned on Ohio State in 2005.  Last year, it was the Buckeyes spoiling Michigan despite being in a down year.  This time, it's the other way around.  Michigan beats Ohio State in the Big House, knocking the Buckeyes out of the BCS.  Jim Tressel still can't win in Ann Arbor, and a national crisis is averted as Brady Quinn's sister doesn't have to choose between Notre Dame and Ohio State.
 
Actual Big Ten standings
 
# 3 Penn State      7–1 11–1
# 9 Ohio State      7–1 10–2
#15 Wisconsin       5–3 10–3
    Michigan        5–3  7–5
    Northwestern    5–3  7–5
    Iowa            5–3  7–5
    Minnesota       4–4  7–5
    Purdue          3–5  5–6
    Michigan State  2–6  5–6
    Indiana         1–7  4–7
    Illinois        0–8  2–9
 
Revised Big Ten standings
 
# 3 Penn State      7–1 11–1
    Michigan        6–2  8–4
# 9 Ohio State      6–2  9–3
#15 Wisconsin       5–3 10–3
    Northwestern    5–3  7–5
    Iowa            5–3  7–5
    Minnesota       4–4  7–5
    Purdue          3–5  5–6
    Michigan State  2–6  5–6
    Indiana         1–7  4–7
    Illinois        0–8  2–9
 
The big change here is that Penn State becomes the undisputed Big Ten champion.  Ohio State falls to third place, losing a tie-breaker with Michigan.  Michigan jumps up to second place, finishing at 8-4, and playing in the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day.  Taking the Buckeyes' place in the BCS is Oregon, who defeats Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
 
Nationally, #2 Texas defeats #1 USC, as no changes are made there.

(More To Come tomorrow, as I do 2006-2010 then.)