Ohio State Football: Buckeyes' Road to the 2013 BCS

David Regimbal@davidreg412Featured ColumnistOctober 21, 2013

After defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes 34-24 and pushing the nation's longest winning streak to 19, the Ohio State Buckeyes come in at No. 4 in the initial BCS rankings.

Despite holding the nation's longest winning streak by a wide margin (Alabama is second with 11 consecutive victories), Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes are looking up at a number of other contenders in the BCS poll.

Why are the Buckeyes on the outside looking in? What will it take for Ohio State to gain some ground?

Let's take a look at where the Buckeyes stand and what lies ahead of them on their road to the BCS.


Where Ohio State Stands

Buckeyes In the Polls
RecordAP RankingCoaches RankingBCS RankingStrength of Schedule

The AP, coaches and BCS polls all have Ohio State ranked No. 4 behind Alabama, Florida State and Oregon.

Ohio State's strength of schedule is clearly impacting its ranking. The Buckeyes have the easiest slate among the top four teams, and while Oregon is close (No. 68), the Ducks have been winning games in dominant fashion, while Ohio State is just getting by mediocre competition.


Biggest Obstacles to a BCS Berth

Ohio State will undoubtedly need to go undefeated for a shot at the BCS title game, and fortunately, that's the case for each of the top four teams.

That's fortunate because Ohio State has the easiest slate. The Buckeyes only have two teams on their remaining schedule that currently boast winning records.

Penn State (4-2) will be traveling to Columbus this Saturday for a prime-time matchup in the 'Shoe. The Nittany Lions are coming off an emotional quadruple-overtime victory over Michigan, and they have a true freshman quarterback in Christian Hackenberg who will challenge an Ohio State secondary that has been susceptible to big plays this season.

The biggest remaining test of the regular season, though, will come when the Buckeyes travel to Ann Arbor for their game against No. 22 Michigan.

Ohio State's Remaining Schedule
October 26vs. Penn State
November 2@ Purdue
November 16@ Illinois
November 23vs. Indiana
November 30@ No. 22 Michigan

The Wolverines (6-1) haven't been what many expected this year, but they're still a talented team that can be explosive on offense with Devin Gardner at the helm. Playing on the road will be an added challenge for the Buckeyes.

If Ohio State navigates its remaining schedule unscathed, it will likely face Michigan State or Nebraska in the Big Ten title game.


Help Needed 

Simply put: Ohio State needs a lot of help.

Because of their standing in the poll, the Buckeyes will need two of the three teams ranked ahead of them to lose. All three of those teams have big tests ahead.

Top-ranked Alabama hosts No. 13 LSU on November 9 and then travels to No. 11 Auburn on November 30. That's not to mention the SEC title game opponent, if in fact Alabama wins the SEC West.

No. 2 Florida State will host No. 7 Miami, the only remaining ranked opponent on the Seminoles' schedule, on November 2. The season-ending game at Florida won't be easy, but the Gators have been decimated by injuries this year.

No. 3 Oregon hosts No. 12 UCLA this Saturday and then travels to No. 6 Stanford the following week. The Ducks' final three opponents (Utah, Arizona and No. 25 Oregon State) have a combined record of 14-6, so there isn't a "cupcake" left on Oregon's schedule.

The Buckeyes' remaining slate will be much easier to navigate.

Ohio State will also get a boost if Wisconsin continues to win. The Buckeyes beat the Badgers 31-24 in Week 5, and that victory will look more impressive if Wisconsin can win out.


The Big Picture 

There's no way around it: Ohio State's strength of schedule is a huge liability. If there are three undefeated teams at the end of the year from the group of Alabama, Florida State, Oregon and Ohio State, the Buckeyes will be left out of the national championship.

Ohio State would get a small boost from winning the Big Ten title game, but it wouldn't be enough to make up a hypothetical gap between the Buckeyes and two other unbeaten teams.


Final Bowl Prediction


David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.

Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.


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