Ohio State landed at No. 4 in the initial BCS Standings. But despite winning their last 19 games (longest current streak in NCAA), the Buckeyes aren’t getting the same respect as some other teams in the Top 10. The reasons: the lack of conference company in the top-10 and the negative national perception of the B1G.
There’s still plenty to be sorted out with six weeks left in the regular season, but it seems pretty clear Ohio State can’t play its own way into the national title game. With much of their heavy lifting behind them, the Buckeyes are already running low on chances to impress the voters and computers, and will need to do more than just handle their own business. They need to root for a couple of their B1G rivals to also finish the season strong.
Ohio State’s biggest wins so far have come against then No. 23 Wisconsin and then-No. 16 Northwestern, neither of which are in the top-25 of the BCS Standings. Even more damaging to the Buckeyes’ resume is the fact Northwestern has now lost three straight and is 0-3 in conference play.
Wisconsin, on the other hand, is helping Ohio State’s reputation by winning its last two games in impressive fashion, 35-6 over Northwestern and 56-32 over Illinois. If the Badgers continue to win, they’ll likely crack the top-25 in the coming weeks, which would be a huge boost for the Buckeyes.
But as it currently stands, Michigan and Nebraska are the only other teams in the B1G ranked in the initial BCS Standings. Making matters worse, neither is close to the top-10 or even remotely considered national title contenders. The No. 22 Wolverines represent Ohio State’s regular season finale, and the Buckeyes could conceivably play the No. 24 Huskers a week later in the conference title game.
Still, winning out and getting some help from their conference rivals might not bump the Buckeyes high enough in the standings. Ohio State would likely need two of the three teams ahead of them to lose.
Those three – No. 1 Alabama, No. 2 Florida State and No. 3 Oregon – all have stronger resumes than Ohio State, and each has an edge in strength of remaining schedule. Also, each has at least one other member of its conference in the current Top 10. Not to mention, if No. 5 Missouri wins out and beats the Crimson Tide for the SEC championship, the Tigers would easily jump the Buckeyes, if not sooner. The computers currently have Missouri third and the Buckeyes fifth.
In the end, Ohio State could be the unfortunate team that wins 25 games in a row while playing in an AQ conference and still not get a shot at a national title.