As we all know, Ohio State isn't eligible to play in the Big Ten Championship game or any bowl games this season. It's been a particularly difficult year to endure that fact in Columbus, given the Buckeyes are currently 11-0.
However, there have always been other things to play for. One was to win the Leaders Division in the conference, an achievement the team has accomplished. Another is to help Braxton Miller win the Heisman Trophy, a possible but unlikely accomplishment.
And of course, there's always beating Michigan.
However, the biggest prize would be to finish the season atop the Associated Press rankings, which remains detached from the BCS altogether and would cause a split national title. While that remains a possibility, I don't think the voters should allow Ohio State to finish No. 1 barring a crazy shuffle amongst the top teams.
For one, the Buckeyes have played a cupcake schedule. Even if they beat Michigan, the only other quality win will be over Nebraska. They didn't play a good team outside of the conference, and the Big Ten was incredibly weak this season.
For another, even if Notre Dame loses and Ohio State is the only undefeated team left in the country, imagine what some of the other National Championship contenders would have to go through after Ohio State is done playing.
Alabama or Georgia would have to beat the other in the SEC Championship and win the National Championship game. Oregon would have to beat UCLA and win the BCS title game after that. Florida State would have to beat Florida, whatever scrub team wins the Coastal Division and win the National Championship game.
Florida would need crazy luck, a win over Florida State and, well, you know the rest.
As it looks now, those are the only teams that appear capable of getting voted into the National Championship game unless November goes batty on us and all of the top teams start losing each week.
Let's say Alabama beats Georgia and Notre Dame to finish the season, and already has victories over LSU, Michigan and Mississippi State on its resume. Not only that, but nobody in their right mind would pick the Buckeyes to beat the Crimson Tide.
You mean to tell me that Ohio State deserves to be ranked ahead of Alabama in that scenario?
Run the same scenario for Georgia. Again, there is no question the Bulldogs should be ranked higher than Ohio State. I'd argue the same for Oregon, as I doubt many folks would ever pick the Buckeyes to beat the Ducks.
Should an undefeated season be enough for Ohio State to finish No. 1 in the AP Poll?
Florida would have the better resume by far. As for Florida State, I think you could flip a coin over whether the Seminoles or the Buckeyes were better.
I'm sorry, but without playing in a conference championship or bowl game, Ohio State simply won't have the resume that teams surviving a tough postseason slate of games will possess. As a result, an undefeated Buckeyes side shouldn't finish atop the AP Top 25 ahead of a more-deserving one-loss team.
It's the final insult in a season full of them for a Buckeyes team that has done everything right on the field, I know. However, if I were a voter, the above would be my thought process.
If Notre Dame loses at some point, that is.
I guess we'll find out in January.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets predict crazy things like Baylor upsets. Seriously.