If there is one thing American's love more than their football, it's ranking things.
Whether we're ranking college sports teams, high school sports teams or even the likes of your local daycare—America has a near obsession with ranking everything to find out "which is the best."
So, as the calendar inches closer to September every year, that means one big set of rankings come out—the preseason Top 25 College Football Polls.
For the Ohio State Buckeyes, the release of the preseason polls may have actually been the best thing that's happened to them in all of 2013.
Yes, the wins on the field over Wisconsin and Northwestern (to an ever increasing lesser extent) were helpful and impressive in their own ways, but starting the season ranked so high could be what is keeping the Buckeyes in the national championship picture today.
However, after finishing 2012 as the only undefeated football team in the country, OSU assumed the mantel of No. 2 behind the two-time defending national champions of Alabama in the preseason polls.
They were a clear-cut favorite for that No. 2 spot entering the season as well. Yet, as the season has gone on Ohio State quickly fell from its lofty perch and place in the national championship game that came with such a ranking.
Yet, Ohio State could also consider itself lucky to be in the position it is in based on how the season has played out so far.
After all, there are currently 10 teams that are all undefeated in FBS football.
But that's the double-edge sword of how the college football world works.
On the one hand, what exactly makes Ohio State a better team than say, Baylor?
On the other hand, the preseason rankings help us all formulate a narrative and assumptions about conferences and teams.
Having them also allows us all to argue the "who have you beaten" mantra in the early part of the season as well.
Of course, every year as we inch towards November, the assumptions and rankings that came with those assumptions, are proven wrong for the most part.
Had the college football world known what they now know about Baylor, do you think they wouldn't be where Florida State is?
Instead, the Bears were on the outside looking in at this season's preseason Top 25 polls.
Had chaos not ensued over the past few weeks, would Baylor even be a Top 5 football team?
It's a team certainly playing like it belongs in the conversation, right along with Ohio State.
Yet, it needed a ton of "help" just to get into a position to be sitting right below the Buckeyes.
There's no doubt that starting the season ranked higher helps ones chances of staying higher in the polls, but credit the Buckeyes for this—they are winning the games put in front of them and controlling what they can control.
After all, the only real ranking that matters is the one that comes out on Sunday night following the championship games in early December and if OSU is the Big Ten champion they would've done all they could to control their own fate.
*Andy Coppens is the Big Ten Lead Writer. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens.
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