Bowl season is underway, but the Ohio State Buckeyes are unfortunately watching the games take place from the sofa. Due to NCAA sanctions, the team that finished the season undefeated was not eligible to participate in postseason play. With Urban Meyer and his troops running the table, it really makes you wonder where this team would be if this weren't the case.
Regardless of whether you would like to make a case for a national championship appearance, it is a certainty that the Buckeyes would be participating in some sort of bowl game. Instead, a total of seven other Big Ten teams are enjoying the benefits of a successful season and will play one more game before the college football season comes to a close.
But how would Ohio State stack up against the Big Ten's opponents in this year’s bowl games?
Let’s just say that playing the Big 12 and SEC is completely different than playing a watered down Big Ten.
Here is a look at all of the matchups that could have been.
The Real Big Ten Matchup: Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, Minnesota vs. Texas Tech (Dec. 28, ESPN, 9 p.m. ET)
How Ohio State Would Fare: Texas Tech has a passing game led by quarterback Seth Doege that could give any defense trouble. In fact, this was the second-best team throwing the ball in the country, averaging more than 350 yards in the air a game.
The problem that I have with the Red Raiders is that they were very inconsistent throughout the year and were shaky on defense against quality opponents. Texas Tech gave up more than 50 points to four Big 12 teams (losing three of those contests), and surrendered 380 total yards in a loss to the Oklahoma Sooners.
I simply don't trust this team and its defense to pick them to beat Ohio State.
Prediction: Buckeyes win 45-21
The Real Big Ten Matchup: Heart of Dallas Bowl, Purdue vs. Oklahoma State (Jan. 1, ESPNU, 12 p.m. ET)
How Ohio State Would Fare: If I couldn't pick Ohio State to lose to Texas Tech because of the subpar defensive play, there is no way I'm picking Oklahoma State in this one. The Cowboys are a team that gave up more than 400 total yards a total of six times. This includes allowing a combined 1,233 total yards in the final two games of the year.
I know Oklahoma State is terrific offensively, but a majority of those numbers were put up against other weak Big 12 defenses. Ohio State had its own share of issues on defense as well throughout the year, but you wouldn't have to walk around with a wishbone and a horseshoe in your pocket to force at least one punt in the game.
Ohio State has shown to be a much more balanced team, which is why I have to go against the Big 12 once again.
Prediction: Buckeyes win 38-24
The Real Big Ten Matchup: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Michigan State vs. TCU (Dec. 29, ESPN, 10:15 p.m. ET)
How Ohio State Would Fare: TCU was actually one of a few teams in the Big 12 that could play defense, as the unit was the best in the conference and ranked 18th in college football. The speed and physicality on that side of the ball could cause fits for the Ohio State offense, especially with Devonte Fields coming off the edge at defensive end.
This was a team that held an explosive Baylor offense to only 21 points and was one of the first teams to expose West Virginia.
The problem that I have with the Horned Frogs is that I am not a big believer in the offense. It is a unit that runs real hot and cold at times and you are never quite sure which temperature is going to show up.
With that being said, I think Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller makes enough plays and leads his team to a close victory.
Prediction: Buckeyes win 21-17
The Real Big Ten Matchup: Capital One Bowl, Nebraska vs. Georgia (Jan. 1, ABC, 1 p.m. ET)
How Ohio State Would Fare: Georgia is a team that had several chances to beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. In other words, this is a team that could have easily been playing Notre Dame in the national championship.
While you could say the same for Ohio State if it hadn't been banned from postseason play, the Bulldogs are just a different breed than what the Buckeyes have to offer.
Physicality on both sides of the ball is something that Ohio State wouldn't be able to handle with its current roster. An offensive line that allowed 29 sacks on the year would not be able to control guys such as Jarvis Jones and Jordan Jenkins up front.
Georgia is also an SEC team that is balanced on offense and has enough weapons to move the ball consistently against the Buckeyes. After all, this is a unit that dropped 394 yards against the Crimson Tide a few weeks ago.
Prediction: Bulldogs win 28-10
The Real Big Ten Matchup: TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, Northwestern vs. Mississippi State (Jan. 1, ESPN2, 12 p.m. ET)
How Ohio State Would Fare: Mississippi State appeared to be that SEC team that was turning the corner, but the end of the season showed that it is still a year or two away from competing with the big boys.
Despite winning eight games in the tough SEC West, the Bulldogs did not beat one ranked team all season long. Beating up on Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn is simply not good enough to believe that this team has what it takes to beat a solid Ohio State team.
The Bulldogs were ranked 11th in the SEC in rushing defense, which tells me that the Buckeyes could stick to their ground game and grind out a victory. It wouldn't be easy with an athletic team such as Mississippi State, but you have to prove something on the football field before receiving a bunch of credit.
Give me Ohio State to keep the Bulldogs unbeaten against ranked opponents.
Prediction: Buckeyes win 34-21
The Real Big Ten Matchup: Outback Bowl, Michigan vs. South Carolina (Jan. 1, ESPN, 1 p.m. ET)
How Ohio State Would Fare: Ohio State would have no answer for defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The sophomore is simply ahead of his time and is abusing massive linemen in the SEC. I could only imagine what would happen against the Buckeyes' weak offensive line.
As for the rest of the team, the Gamecocks are just a dominating team on the defensive side of the ball. Having a unit that flies to the football and unleashes bone-crushing hits is something a one-dimensional Buckeyes offense wouldn't know how to adjust to. Urban Meyer's offense is still a year away from being balanced like the teams he had at Utah and Florida.
Offensively, South Carolina struggles at times, but that may not even matter with the defense likely playing its part in the field position game. In order to beat a great defensive team such as South Carolina, you would need an offense that can do multiple things, and Ohio State isn't there yet.
Prediction: Gamecocks win 35-17
The Real Big Ten Matchup: Rose Bowl Game, Wisconsin vs. Stanford (Jan. 1, ESPN, 5 p.m. ET)
How Ohio State Would Fare: I don't think Stanford receives enough credit for the job it has done this season. A team that was supposed to be left for dead when Andrew Luck left is now in the BCS Rose Bowl with 11 victories.
Could Ohio State knock off the Cardinal?
I don't think so. If you would like to pick the best defense outside of the top units in the SEC, you would be wise to go with Stanford. The linebacker play is arguably the best in college football and the defensive line simply gets after it. We are talking about a unit that held Oregon to 14 points and was the first to expose the USC Trojans.
If Stanford was able to shut down those two high-powered offenses, I don't think there would be much fear involved facing a one-man show in Miller.
Add that to the fact Stanford has a power running game with Stepfan Taylor leading the way, and the Cardinal would be too much to overcome for a Buckeyes squad that isn't quite complete.
Prediction: Cardinal wins 24-13