Under Urban Meyer, Ohio State has won all 17 games since took over as coach in 2012. Last year, the Buckeyes went 12-0 but didn't even get to play in the Big Ten championship game because they were on a one-year bowl ban. This year, it's looking promising that they might go 12-0 again.
If they do, they'll play in the Big Ten championship game for sure. But then does that mean they'll get to play in the BCS National Championship Game if they win?
Right now, that looks like a 50-50 proposition.
In the latest simulated BCS standings (compiled by BCS Guru), Ohio State is a distant fifth, behind Alabama, Oregon, Stanford and Clemson. It's barely ahead of one-loss Georgia, which is among three one-loss teams currently in the top 10. These standings are pretty close to the real thing, since five of the six BCS computer ratings are available and the AP Poll is used to stand in for the Harris Interactive Poll, which is scheduled to come out next Monday.
The Buckeyes, despite ranking No. 3 in the Coaches Poll, isn't getting much love from the computers. Their placements of seventh, 12th, 13th, 14th and 20th put their overall computer rankings at No. 10. Some of this may be blamed by Ohio State's weak non-conference schedule that included San Diego State and Florida A&M, an FCS school that did its job in dragging down the Buckeyes' computer rankings despite a 76-0 drubbing.
Ohio State entered Big Ten play last week and held off Wisconsin. This week, it'll face Northwestern, another ranked team. It is presumed that once they're playing conference teams, the Buckeyes' computer rankings will float back up. But that is far from assured thanks to the Big Ten's lackluster standing among the computers.
According to Jeff Sagarin's rankings, the Big Ten is the fourth strongest conference, trailing the SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12, and barely ahead of the ACC. And even within the Big Ten, the Buckeyes will end up playing the weaker teams as they likely won't face another ranked team after this week until the regular-season finale at Michigan.
That means the Buckeyes' BCS destiny are out of their hands and they'll need to 1) score style points with the voters to keep their rankings in the polls high; 2) do lots of scoreboard watching and hope for not just the teams in front of them to falter but also teams immediately behind them to pile up losses as not to leapfrog them.
Ohio State's predicament actually isn't nearly as dire as Louisville's. The Cardinals are ranked No. 7 in both polls but are out of the top 10 all together in the simulated BCS standings. Playing in the reconstituted American Athletic Conference, which ranks dead last among the six AQ conferences, has been a severe handicap. Louisville likely won't face a single ranked team the entire season and therefore has no shot of making a move in either the computers or human polls.
Two other unbeaten teams won't have a shot to play for the national title, but will have a season-long duel for a possible BCS bowl bid. Both Northern Illinois and Fresno State are ranked in the simulated standings, with the Huskies surging ahead this week after an impressive win over Purdue. But for now, NIU's sim BCS ranking of 21 over Fresno State's 24 means relatively little.
The Bulldogs will be helped by playing in the Mountain West, ranked seventh by Sagarin as opposed to ninth for the MAC, where NIU plays. Fresno State likely will get a rematch against Boise State in the inaugural MWC championship game, and a second victory there over the Broncos just might cement its BCS bid over the Huskies. But both teams will need to remain unbeaten to keep their respective quest alive.