Ohio State Football: Do the Buckeyes Need to Play for Wins and Style Points?
The Ohio State Buckeyes have made a habit of winning football games—they've posted 17 consecutive victories, including five this season—but they've lost ground in the AP Poll almost every week since beating Buffalo on opening weekend.
It raises the question: Do the Buckeyes need to play for wins and style points to reach the BCS title game this year?
After opening the season ranked No. 2 behind top-ranked Alabama, the Buckeyes fell one spot despite defeating the Bulls by 20 in Week 1. A week later, Ohio State dropped again after beating San Diego State by five touchdowns.
Ohio State held serve following two convincing victories over Cal and Florida A&M. The argument could be made that the Buckeyes needed a quality win to not only hold their position, but gain ground on the three teams ranked ahead of them—Alabama, Oregon and Clemson.
Did that happen when the Buckeyes notched a 31-24 victory over No. 23 Wisconsin last Saturday? According to Doug Lesmerises of the Plain Dealer, Ohio State didn't improve its stock, and in fact lost points in the poll while staying pat at No. 4.
The Buckeyes had a commanding 17-point lead over the Badgers, but abandoned the aggressive offense that produced those points and turned to a conservative approach to to kill the clock in the fourth quarter.
It gave the Buckeyes coaching staff exactly what it was looking for—a victory—but with their tenuous poll position, it left many questioning the strategy.
If Urban Meyer is worried about Ohio State's situation, he isn't showing it. He has made it clear that he has no interest in producing style points when the game is on the line, according to Lesmerises of the Plain Dealer.
The end of the day, you're up three scores against a team that supposedly can't throw the ball as well as they did, and we made a decision that the way we lose that game is turn the ball over. Maybe style points - I heard something (about) style points - we're not really concerned about that. But we won the game.
Those comments suggest Meyer thinks winning all their games will be enough to earn a spot in the title game. History would suggest he's right.
Since the inception of the BCS in 1998, only one undefeated team from an automatic-qualifying conference was left out of the national title game (Auburn in 2004). College football's regular season is nearly impossible to navigate unscathed, and because of that, undefeated power-conference teams are almost guaranteed a chance to play for it all.
That's why Meyer chose to play it safe Saturday instead of keeping his foot on the gas. That will likely be the formula the Buckeyes use the rest of the season, and if history really does repeat itself, Ohio State will be in good position to reach the title game if it remains undefeated.
David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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