Michigan vs. Ohio State: Buckeyes Only Unbeaten Because B1G so Weak in 2012
The Ohio State Buckeyes finished a perfect 12-0, but only because the Big Ten is a weak conference from top to bottom.
Without question, the 2012 season with Urban Meyer was one outstanding turnaround for the Bucks'.
And we can definitely expect Ohio State to be in the national title mix under Meyer for quite some time. Mainly because any time a coach can run the table with nothing to play for at season's end deserves utmost recognition.
Nevertheless, would Ohio State have gone perfect against an SEC or Pac-12 schedule? That said, let's look at the Buckeyes' 2012 regular season campaign and see how everything unfolded so perfectly.
The good news is obviously perfection. The downside is Ohio State having only played three ranked teams at the time of those games.
Michigan State was No. 18 in the coaches' poll when the Buckeyes defeated the Spartans in East Lansing. Unfortunately, Ohio State hasn't gotten much help from Sparty since as Michigan State entered the final week at 5-6.
Nebraska is by far Ohio State's biggest and most impressive victory. The Cornhuskers won the Big Ten Legends Division and were No. 14 in the BCS heading into this week. Michigan was Ohio State's only other ranked opponent, as the Wolverines were No. 19 in the BCS entering Saturday.
Rather slim victories over significantly inferior opponents Central Florida (9-3, Conference USA), California (3-9, Pac-12), UAB (3-9, Conference USA), Purdue (6-6) and Indiana (4-8) don't hold much weight.
Overcoming Wisconsin and Penn State on the road is definitely noteworthy; however, the Badgers and Nittany Lions—who lost to the Ohio Bobcats at home—are in the midst of down years as well.
As we get ready for December, Ohio State will have only played two ranked schools by regular season's end: Nebraska and Michigan.
Comparison to Other BCS Conferences
Because Ohio State is not ranked in the BCS or coaches' polls, Nebraska becomes the Big Ten's highest-ranked bowl eligible team. Michigan is the conference's only other ranked team in both polls.
The SEC, though, is represented by five schools in the BCS top 10 entering this weekend. Even in the AP poll Alabama and Georgia were ahead of undefeated Ohio State before Thanksgiving. As for the Pac-12, Oregon and Stanford reside in the BCS top 10 with Oregon State, UCLA in the top 20.
Even the ACC has been more impressive than the Big Ten from an all-encompassed perspective. Florida State and Clemson are obviously carrying that conference, and they sat No. 10 and No. 11 respectively in the BCS after last weekend—each ahead of Nebraska.
Could Ohio State have gone perfect provided it faced an SEC or Pac-12 schedule? Obviously that question cannot be answered and we'll never know about this team against the best of what's offered in 2012.
It is interesting, though, that Urban Meyer never had a perfect season while at Florida. Despite two national championships, Meyer had at least one conference loss those seasons (2006 and 2008). His only other perfect campaign came in 2004 with the Utah Utes.
In 2012, where does the Big Ten rank among the 6 BCS conferences?
Big Ten in Recent Seasons
Just look back at the 2009, 2010 and 2011 college football seasons, and the Big Ten was immensely better across the board.
In each of those three previous years the Big Ten presented a minimum of three schools with 10-plus wins: four in 2009, three with 11-plus in 2010 and three with 11 in 2011.
Even more impressive were the Big Ten's BCS showings from 2005 through 2011. During this seven-year stretch the conference sent two schools every season to the biggest of stages for college football.
Most definitely was part of that due to Ohio State competing in multiple BCS title games, but consistently receiving an at-large bid regardless is extremely dominant. Only the SEC can rightfully be viewed as the better conference during this time frame.
As for 2012, the Big Ten has taken simply a step back, especially when you exclude Ohio State's perfection.
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