It happened almost five days ago, and most of us are all still in disbelief about the absolute dismantling that took place at the hands of the Southern California Trojans. No, we were not favored. But even the most pessimistic Buckeye fan did not imagine that the Scarlet and Gray would fail to score a touchdown. Not one. Senseless penalties, questionable play-calling, and downright lifelessness all lead to the debacle in Los Angeles, California.
The result? Well, you have a slew of opinions from fans, as well as those who were waiting for the Buckeyes to fail. Take your pick…We have the comments from our open blog. We even have the take from our friends over at Eleven Warriors. And then there are the others…
All in all, the consensus among journalists, bloggers and fans of college football: The Buckeyes’ hopes of a National Championship are done. Kaput. Finished. And more often than not, you have a splash of “We told you so.” Alas, the polls took us down a few rungs as the Associated Press has Ohio State 13th, USA Today places them 14th, and the Coaches Poll is 11th. Regardless, there are about a dozen teams ahead of Ohio State, and this is all before the BCS even releases their initial take on matters.
But while all hope appears to be squashed, did we not all say the same thing after last season’s week 10 loss to Illinois? The following week, Ohio State was placed seventh in the AP Poll, as well as the BCS Standings – quite a difference from 13th. However, it was considerably later in the season that offered a lot less time to make up ground.
But it happened.
Believe it or not, losing to the best team in the nation at any point in the season is not that bad. The score? Sure. Awful. But last I checked, margin of victory (or loss) did not matter. Factor in the point that it is better to lose earlier than later, and things actually may look up. Last season provided us with a complete meltdown of all six teams ahead of Ohio State; something that is completely unheard of. Or was. Black Swan or not, that event now becomes possible in the realm of statistics, so why not again?
With that said, here is a quick look at the 12 teams that are ahead of Ohio State in the current AP Poll…
|1. USC (61) 2-0 1,596|
|2. Oklahoma 3-0 1,485|
|3. Georgia (2) 3-0 1,437|
|4. Florida (1) 2-0 1,414|
|5. Missouri 3-0 1,389|
|6. LSU 2-0 1,274|
|7. Texas 2-0 1,140|
|8. Wisconsin 3-0 1,076|
|9. Alabama 3-0 982|
|10. Auburn 3-0 958|
|11. Texas Tech 3-0 904|
|12. South Florida 3-0 801|
Now, all it takes is one quick glance to realize that several of these teams will lose a game. That’s what happens when there are a handful of teams from the SEC that all play each other and that you cannot tie in college football.
But what counts is also when these teams lose, and who they lose to. It’s bound to happen to a handful, but can they have a merry-go-round of beating themselves at the same time?
So given all of this, let’s break down the remaining schedules for all of the teams currently ranked above The Ohio State University.
12) South Florida
Conference: Big East
Remaining Schedule: @FIU, @NC State, Pitt, Syracuse, @ Louisville, @ Cincinnati, Rutgers, UCONN, @ West Virgina
If this were basketball, I would feel a lot better about this remaining slate. Squeaking past Kansas was a huge win for USF. However, UCONN is also undefeated. And despite one loss, West Virginia is still a top-25 team. The back-to-backs at Louisville and Cincy could pose some trouble in the middle of the season. It’s looking like a three-team race in the Big East for right now, but a loss to one of the Louisville/Cincy pair would knock the Bulls down several pegs. What needs to happen? Any loss to the abovementioned.
11) Texas Tech
Conference: Big 12
Remaining Schedule: UMass, @Kansas St, Nebraska, @Texas A&M, @Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma St, @Oklahoma, Baylor
The Big 12…Quarterback haven. Too bad I don’t think that even Bobby Knight could help the Red Raiders get through the second half of this schedule unscathed. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are both 3-0. Texas is right there with two wins and joins Oklahoma in the top 10; and traveling to Kansas will not be a cakewalk by any means. So with a minimum of three tough games, Ohio State fans should be able to root for these guys to lose to any of said three match-ups. Heck, even two losses for good measure sound good to me, though that means more work for the other teams to come up with a loss. But we won’t get ahead of ourselves…
Remaining Schedule: LSU, Tennessee, @Vanderbilt, Arkansas, @West Virginia, @Mississippi, Tennessee Martin, Georgia, @Alabama
The first of several SEC teams we’ll discuss, Auburn obviously has their work cut out for them as well. Though already disappointing on opening night, Tennessee could easily surprise the Tigers in two weeks. As mentioned, West Virginia is a ranked out of conference opponent. And obviously, Georgia will be a tough game right before the final week. LSU is the sixth ranked team in the nation, so if they can get by those Tigers, a loss to Tennessee or Georgia would do the trick. Ideally, Tennessee would be the one we need given their place in the rankings – or lack thereof.
Remaining Schedule: @Arkansas, @Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, @Tennessee, Arkansas St, @LSU, Mississippi St, Auburn
Traveling to Georgia, Tennesee and LSU will be a chore in and of itself. But if the Tide can somehow pull out a season of dreams and meet Auburn for the final game of the season, just imagine all of the houndstooth hats that would be out for that November meeting. But just like every other member of the SEC, there are bound to be teams in this list that will top others, and whether it is one of the three mentioned or another intra-conference game, it will be quite a feat if ‘Bama can stay in the top 10 come the end of the season. And if they do, you won’t find a bigger Auburn fan in the land come that weekend.
8 ) Wisconsin
Conference: Big Ten
Remaining Schedule: @Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, @Iowa, Illinois, @Michigan State, @Indiana, Minnesota, Cal Poly
A team we know all too well. A loss at the Big House would be huge for Ohio State, but given their showing this past weekend I am unsure that we can hold our breath on this one. If anything, you now have a reason to root for Michigan. But if the Blue can’t get it done, the ball is in our court. A head-to-head win would be a perfect way to gain some ground on the top spot in the rankings. I do not want to have to count on Penn State or Illinois to do the job, though both teams are more than capable. A loss here and we’re d-u-n, done.
Conference: Big 12
Remaining Schedule: Arkansas, Rice, @Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State, @Texas Tech, Baylor, @Kansas
The southern portion of the Big 12 is a tough place to be this season – or any season for that matter. Thankfully for the Longhorns, their match-ups against Oklahoma and Missouri are at home. Unfortunately for Texas, they’ll be playing exactly that: Oklahoma and Missouri. The road games against Texas Tech and Kansas will also be tough to weather, even if they do get to play Baylor in between. Regardless of how good Texas is, they’ll be in for a rude awakening if they’re expecting any of these games to be like the Florida Atlantic or UTEP contests. Perhaps they can hope for more postponed games?
Remaining Schedule: @Auburn, Mississippi St, @Florida, @South Carolina, Georgia, Tulane, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas
The fun could start this week for LSU as they travel to Auburn, and then to Florida two weeks later. If they manage to get through that gauntlet, the Tigers have Georgia waiting for them right before Halloween. There’s a reason why the LSU/Auburn game is the prime time broadcast on ESPN, so you can bet all eyes will be on this one – including those that reside in the state of Ohio as this one has just as big of implications as any other game on the docket. Did you know the SEC is “fast?”
Conference: Big 12
Remaining Schedule: Buffalo, @Nebraska, Oklahoma St, @Texas, Colorado, @Baylor, Kasnas St, @Iowa St, Kansas
After topping Illinois in a great opening week match, Missouri may in fact have the easiest road to the national title game, assuming they can get past the Texas Longhorns – posing their biggest challenge from here out. Kansas during the final week could be a nail-biter, but I would just feel a lot more comfortable as a Buckeye fan if Missouri happened to stumble before the final week of the season. A very, very strong team that could win it all if given the chance. I just don’t want them to have that chance.
Remaining Schedule: @Tennessee, Mississippi, @Arkansas, LSU, Kentucky, Georgia, @ Vanderbilt, South Carolina, The Citadel, @Florida State
As good as Florida has been over these last two weeks, I find it difficult to believe that Hawaii and Miami have prepared Florida enough for what is to come. The game in Tennessee could be a huge upset for the Volunteers, and you can bet I’ll be pulling for the “T” to top Tebow and company this weekend. LSU and Georgia are waiting for their crack at Urban’s crew, and Florida State is looking to prove a point as they have climbed back into the national rankings. An FSU win would be huge for both the Seminoles and the Buckeyes, but we’ll have to get there first.
Remaining Schedule: @Arizona St, Alabama, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, @LSU, Florida, @Kentucky, @Auburn, Georgia Tech
Speaking of Georgia… While they get to take on the Gators at home, traveling to LSU and Auburn to take on the pair of Tigers will not be easy. And the Bulldogs will have to be careful that they aren’t looking ahead to far, as the Alabama Crimson Tide will be coming over to see if Uga is all that she’s been hyped to be. Georgia is only a few points behind Oklahoma in the polls, but this band could be a lot wider after next weekend’s prime time clash.
Conference: Big 12
Remaining Schedule: TCU, @Baylor, @Texas, Kansas, @Kansas St, Nebraska, @Texas A&M, Texas Tech, @Oklahoma St
If only I had more faith in Texas Tech. The Sooners will get an idle week before locking up with TCU. After that, they’ll have a decent stretch that is capped off against Kansas. The Longhorns contest is in Dallas, which is technically in Texas. This is another case where I would like for the team to lose sooner (no pun intended) than later given their late-season schedule. Of course, stumbling against an unranked opponent would just be glorious, yet not likely. And finally…
Conference: Pac 10
Remaining Schedule: @Oregon St, Oregon, Arizona St, @Washington St, @Arizona, Washington, California, @Stanford, Notre Dame, @UCLA
The Trojans have a total of one nationally ranked opponent left on their schedule, and they will also be traveling to Los Angeles as the Ducks take on USC next weekend. We can always hope for a late-season slip-up like the years previous, as you know UCLA has one game on their mind. However, watching UCLA take on BYU last weekend, and my hopes of that have been quenched quite a bit. Coupling the cake schedule with the fact that USC is a very powerful team, and it would be shocking if the Men of Troy were not on top of this list come the end of the regular season.
But as Buckeye fans, this would be alright…for the most part. Technically, all the Buckeyes need to do is get to the second spot on this list. But would the BCS Committee allow for another OSU/USC game? Assuming Beanie Wells comes back, the re-match wouldn’t exactly be a re-match. But there was little chance that the Nation was going to see OSU/Michigan two seasons ago, so I would be hard-pressed to think that we could get to lock up with USC all over again.
With that said…Below, you will find (one of) the official road map(s) to a Buckeye assent:
9/20: Auburn over LSU
10/4: Ohio State over Wisconsin
10/11: Texas over Oklahoma
10/18: Texas over Missouri
10/25: Kansas over Texas Tech
10/25: LSU over Georgia
11/1: UCONN over USF
11/1: Texas Tech over Texas
11/1: Georgia over Florida
11/29: Alabama over Auburn
12/6: WVU over USF
November 1st could wind up being the best weekend of football over the entire season. The end of October is not too shabby either. But I digress…
Now it goes without saying that the Ohio State Buckeyes would have to win out against ranked opponents like Penn State and Illinois. A loss to any conference opponent for that matter would make this entire exercise a complete waste of time – not that I mind. And there are also more ways that this puzzle could form together given the Texas/Texas Tech/Kansas trio as well as LSU/Georgia/Florida and whom they all have to play from here on. None of the wins listed above are far-fetched, but they’re also only a sliver of hope. Or dismay, depending on the side of fence on which you reside.
If Texas runs the table, that takes care of three teams. Ideally, having a team like Georgia run the table and then stumble against Auburn during the second last week of the season would be the best way to clean out the SEC. Is this playing the system? You bet it is.
And it also goes without saying that all 2000 words above this line are the complete ramblings of a Buckeye fan that would just like to see another shot at the title, even though we were completely embarrassed as a lifeless, confused team that could not get anything going last weekend. And of course, if this incredibly slim-chanced plethora of wins and losses were to occur, would we even be given that third shot? That is for the committee to decide.
But if it does happen, can you can just hear the heads of the collective NCAA football fan (outside of Ohio, naturally) explode? A kid can dream…