The undefeated teams in college football have started to fall, but the Ohio State Buckeyes haven’t been one of them. Similarly, teams have begun to fall out of contention for the national championship, but Ohio State hasn’t, and they’re not going to.
Everything is in place for Ohio State to replicate exactly what the Notre Dame Fighting Irish did last year: go undefeated against a weak schedule, end up in the national championship game undeservingly, and get embarrassed by the SEC champion in the BCS title game. It’s all setting up to fall into place just like that.
The two toughest teams that the Buckeyes will play for the rest of the season are a home game against a resilient but under-manned Penn State Nittany Lions team that plays a true freshman at quarterback (albeit a good one), and then a road game against the rival Michigan Wolverines who had trouble beating both Connecticut and Akron, two teams that have combined for one win all season (Akron’s two-point win over James Madison).
It’s a schedule that the Buckeyes should be embarrassed to play, knowing that it could be enough to carry them to a spot in the BCS title game. Even the Big 10 title game, which could end up be a rematch against Michigan, wouldn’t make their schedule any more daunting, especially compared to the teams in the SEC, ACC, or Pac-12 that would be far more deserving of spots in the national championship game, even with one loss.
But just like the Irish last season, if Ohio State gets through their schedule undefeated and there is no more than one other undefeated team from a BCS conference, they know they will advance straight to the title game, and the wheels are already in motion that will turn that possibility into reality.
The Stanford Cardinal has now lost a game, likely eliminating them from national championship contention. However, they remain the team most likely to knock off the Oregon Ducks and crush their title hopes as they did last season.
Clemson and Florida State meet this week, which will knock one of those teams out of contention, while the winner will still have to get past their in-state rival from the SEC and then the ACC championship game, which is far more challenging than what lies in front of Ohio State.
If things unfold like that, Ohio State would be the only undefeated team left standing, just like Notre Dame was last year. As we saw last year with teams like Oregon and Kansas State, the pressure mounts on undefeated teams late in the season, and in games against teams that have nothing to lose, anything could happen.
Ohio State would have to survive a few pressure-filled games as well, but the level of competition they would face in those late-season games would be well below what the other elite teams would be facing down the stretch and in their conference title games.
There’s obviously a long way to go before Ohio State solidifies a spot in the national title game. But right now, everything is working in their favor. Just like Notre Dame last season, the Buckeyes look destined to make an undeserving appearance in the national title game.