So we've got a bit of a developing situation in the Big Ten. After three weeks, only three undefeated teams remain (and holy cow is that depressing): Minnesota, Northwestern...and bowl-ineligible Ohio State.
Now, we can go ahead and assume that Minnesota and Northwestern are not going undefeated. Minnesota is much, much less talented than the majority of the Big Ten, and Northwestern's secondary will lose multiple games on its own come conference play—as it has over the last few years.
But Ohio State? There's a team that certainly can go 12-0. Urban Meyer doesn't want to hear that kind of talk—really, what coach would?—but the possibility of great things is certainly there.
And yet it would be painfully awkward if the Buckeyes pulled off the perfect season. Jim Delany can't possibly want to be there in Columbus to hand Meyer and the Buckeyes the Leaders Division trophy; congratulate them on a 12-0 season; then say, "Well, your season's still over, blame Jim Tressel and the NCAA, goodnight everybody!" and try to leave town without getting his brakes cut.
And lord help the NCAA if Ohio State ends up the only undefeated team in the nation. What we'd probably end up with is a repeat of USC's 2003 season, in which the Trojans went 12-1 and were named AP poll champions even though they didn't participate in the BCS National Championship (which was LSU's victory over Oklahoma).
Of course, it's not as if USC didn't play in a bowl at all; the Trojans easily outpaced Michigan, 28-14, in the Rose Bowl instead. So the AP may not be as amenable handing Ohio State the top spot in this instance, especially with an actual BCS Championship being played elsewhere.
But there are almost assuredly many voters who'll just say, "Hey, look, Ohio State won every game and nobody else did, and that's title worthy to me."
If the Buckeyes go undefeated, then it's a pretty safe bet that Braxton Miller's going to be at the center of the season. And he'll be the subject of a great many discussions by sportswriters about whether he deserves Heisman consideration in the midst of program sanctions; and those discussions will usually end in, "Yes, he does," after however many hundreds of words that are not about how great a player Miller is; and Miller will then receive about 60-80 percent of the Heisman votes he really deserves.
Now, that all said, a bucket of cold water: Ohio State is probably not going 12-0. The last time we predicted that would happen, it was Wisconsin, and the Badgers are currently undergoing one of the most horrific meltdowns of a great program that we've seen in years. So if Ohio State goes 2-6 or so in the Big Ten, sorry; that one's on us.
But seriously, having watched this team through three weeks, it's not elite. Not yet. The offense disappears at times, the defense is prone to giving up big plays, and the ground game still doesn't have much of an identity. We love John Simon and the rest of the front seven, but as it stands right now, that's not an elite secondary.
The Buckeyes will be tested over and over in the Big Ten, and the odds aren't great that they'll pass every single test.
And yet, this is still the best team in the Big Ten right now, and best teams have uncanny knacks for having the best records in their conferences. In a hilariously weak Big Ten, that could mean big things for Ohio State—and awkward moments for everyone who has to deal with that.
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