Perfection may not be enough for Ohio State, and that reality was on full display following the Buckeyes’ 56-0 dismantling of Purdue on Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.
After a flawless performance against an overmatched opponent, Ohio State’s rating in the BCS standings still sustained a fractional decrease. The Buckeyes stayed at fourth overall behind Alabama, Florida State and Oregon but saw their rating drop from .884 to .872.
Two-time defending national champion Alabama (.980) maintained its near-flawless rating, while Florida State (.953) re-jumped Oregon (.944) for the No. 2 spot following an impressive 41-14 triumph against previously unbeaten Miami. Both Alabama (against No. 13 LSU on Nov. 9) and Oregon (against No. 5 Stanford on Nov. 7) each face what amounts to their toughest tests of the regular season in their next contests.
Though the Buckeyes have won 21 consecutive games under head coach Urban Meyer, its’ not a stretch to conclude that a second consecutive perfect season won’t guarantee a berth in the BCS National Championship. A loss by at least one of Oregon or Alabama this weekend – and certainly losses by both – would give Ohio State’s national championship hopes an enormous boost.
With the Buckeyes facing an open week, Meyer once again downplayed the focus on the national championship race and attempted to shift it to his team’s need to keep improving and progressing.
“That’s not something that we discuss,” he said. “We discuss something about playing for championships in November and that’s what we’re doing. The goal on this team is to come back faster and stronger than they were in the bye week. We gotta make sure we’re not worried about any of that. That’s the unfortunate thing about bye weeks. You let guys go for the weekend and you start hearing – with all due respect, stuff like that – you just need to come back stronger and faster.”
Ohio State sits on an island in the standings, with large gaps on both sides of the BCS table. Now that the Seminoles have tacked on another quality win, OSU’s deficit to third-place Oregon is looking insurmountable without a loss from the Ducks. On the other hand, the Buckeyes lead fifth-place Stanford (.793) by nearly a tenth of a point.
Potential Big Ten title game opponent Michigan State (.339) was the second highest conference team in the BCS rankings at 17th, while Wisconsin (.129) came in at No. 24 to give the Buckeyes one opponent in the top 25.
The Buckeyes’ fourth-place listing once again came as no surprise, especially after the three national polls were released Sunday morning. Both listings that factor into the BCS standings – the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and the Harris Poll – placed the Buckeyes at fourth, as did the Associated Press Poll. In the AP and coaches’ polls, Ohio State lost votes, moving from 1,317 to 1,315 in the AP and 1,375 to 1,369 in the USA Today listing. In the Harris Poll, however, OSU increased from 2,301 to 2,317.
In each of the three major polls, Michigan State and Wisconsin are the only two Big Ten teams currently ranked. Michigan, which had previously been ranked, fell out of each following its loss to the in-state rival Spartans. Michigan State controls its own destiny in the Legends Division and could give Ohio State a chance at another quality win if the two programs meet in the conference championship.