Best Super Bowl Buckeyes

The Super Bowl is just six days away and not a single ex-Buckeye can be found on the roster of either the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks. Ohio State, however, has had a knack for making an impact in the big game in years past, as evidenced by our list of the top ex-Buckeyes of the Super Bowl era.

Super Bowl XLVIII will kickoff from East Rutherford, N.J.'s MetLife Stadium on Sunday, and for the first time in 16 years, neither participating team in the NFL's championship game will feature an alumnus of Ohio State.

But just because there's not a former Buckeye on the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks this season doesn't mean that OSU hasn't made its mark on the Super Bowls of past years. With 77 combined alums having appeared in the each season's biggest professional football game, Ohio State has been well-represented throughout the history of the Super Bowl, as evidenced by the 29 former Buckeyes who can call themselves Super Bowl champions.

With that in mind, here is a list of the top five Ohio State alums of the Super Bowl era, as history shows that it shouldn't be long before a former Buckeye finds himself back in the big game.

5. Orlando Pace, left tackle, St. Louis Rams

"The Greatest Show on Turf" probably wouldn't have been possible if not for Pace protecting Kurt Warner's blindside and paving lanes for Marshall Faulk

The first overall pick of the 1997 NFL Draft, Pace enjoyed an 12-year career with the Rams, which peaked when St. Louis defeated Eddie George's Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. The Rams' Super Bowl-winning season in 1999 coincided with the Sandusky, Ohio native's first of five consecutive All-Pro campaigns in his career, and culminated with St. Louis posting 436 yards of offense in one of the greatest Super Bowl games to have ever been played.

The Rams would return to the Super Bowl just two years later -- a season that saw Pace play in 100 percent of their offensive plays -- but St. Louis was defeated by the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI.

4. Santonio Holmes, wide receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers

The only ex-Buckeye to ever win Super Bowl MVP honors, Holmes played an obviously crucial role in the Steelers' Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Arizona Cardinals. The Belle Glade, Fla. native tallied nine catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in the biggest game of his career, but it was his timing that was more impressive than anything.

With Pittsburgh trailing by a score of 23-20 with 2:37 remaining in regulation, the Steelers appeared to need 78 yards to capture a record sixth Super Bowl victory in franchise history, but the number of yards needed soon became 88 after a holding call on the first play of the drive. Ben Roethlisberger and Holmes soon came to the rescue, however, with the Pittsburgh quarterback finding the Ohio State alum four times for 73 yards on a game-winning drive that resulted in Holmes catching the game's go-ahead six-yard score with 35 seconds remaining.

It would be just one year later that off the field problems would force the Steelers to trade Holmes to the Jets, but his part in Pittsburgh's sixth championship victory will forever make him a part of Steelers and Super Bowl lore.

3. Pepper Johnson, linebacker, New York Giants

It didn't take long for the two-time Buckeyes captain (1984, 1985) to get a start on his jewelry collection, as Johnson walked away from his rookie season with a championship ring following the Giants' 39-20 win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXI. But while the second round pick still recorded two tackles despite not starting in his Super Bowl debut, he managed to make an even bigger impact four years later, when his first All-Pro season played a key role in bringing New York to Super Bowl XXV.

It was there that Johnson captured his second ring, recording four tackles in the Giants' 20-19 victory over the Buffalo Bills. In a battle between the league's top offense and top defense, the latter prevailed, when Bills placekicker Scott Norwood's last-second field goal attempt sailed wide-right.

Johnson wasn't done winning rings when his playing days ended, as the Detroit, Mich. native added three more championships to his resume as a defensive assistant with the Patriots in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX.

2. Matt Snell, fullback, New York Jets

Super Bowl III may be best remembered for Joe Namath's guarantee, but you could make a compelling argument that Snell deserved to be named that game's MVP, after the former Ohio State two-way player rushed for a game-high 121 yards and scored what still stands as the Jets' only touchdown in Super Bowl history. Snell also added four receptions for 40 yards in New York's 16-7 win over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts, who were paced by a 116-yard rushing effort from ex-Buckeye Tom Matte, a performance which set the Super Bowl record for yards per carry (10.5) -- a mark that still stands today.

Snell would ultimately spend nine seasons with the Jets, tallying 4,285 yards and 24 touchdowns over the course of his career. He followed his lone Super Bowl victory with an All-Pro season in 1969, which also marked the third time that the Garfield, Ga. native was named to a Pro Bowl.

1. Mike Vrabel, linebacker, New England Patriots

You'd be hard pressed to find a former Ohio State player who's made more of an impact in the Super Bowl than Vrabel, who has appeared in and won more Super Bowls than any other ex-Buckeye. The Akron, Ohio native played a key role in the Patriots jump-starting their dynasty of the early-2000s, as he started at outside linebacker and recorded five tackles in New England's 20-17 win over Pace's Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

Vrabel followed that two years later with an even bigger outing in Super Bowl XXXVIII, as he not only posted six tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble against the Carolina Panthers, but he caught a one-yard fourth quarter touchdown after lining up at the tight end position in what was ultimately a 32-29 Patriots win. There was certainly a strong case to be made for Vrabel being named that game's MVP, although the award was given to quarterback Tom Brady.

Ohio State's all-time sacks leader would again make an impact on both sides of the ball a year later in Super Bowl XXXIX, as New England repeated as world champion with a 24-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Again catching a touchdown as a tight end -- this one from two yards out -- Vrabel also recorded four tackles and one sack -- a 16-yard loss -- in the Patriots' third Super Bowl victory in four years.

Vrabel and New England would return to the Super Bowl at the end of the 2007 season, but fell victim to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. After a three-year stint as an Ohio State defensive assistant from 2011-2013, Vrabel recently returned to the NFL, accepting a job with the Houston Texans as the team's linebackers coach.


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