Should the Buckeyes go undefeated, everything and nothing will happen as a result of the win streak. Coaches, players, fans and media will complain, but none of it will matter as Ohio State stands, nose pressed against the window, on the outside looking in at the BCS National Championship Game.
With every game that Urban Meyer's 2013 Buckeyes squad wins, including its most recent 56-0 dismantling of Purdue, the team pushes closer toward 25-0 since Meyer's arrival. That lofty number would push Ohio State into the top 20 where consecutive wins are concerned—something that, should it happen, is worthy of praise and recognition.
It is also something that, barring outside help, will see the Buckeyes staring at a 25-game win streak with merely a bid to the Rose Bowl to show for it. Ohio State will be all dressed up with somewhere to go, but it won't be the national championship game.
Under the circumstances, that means the system will be condemned by Buckeyes supporters, the same group that's benefited tremendously from the BCS. After playing in three BCS National Championships, plus six additional appearances, this will be the time when things are not fair to Ohio State or its fans.
But that's college football, and should the Buckeyes win the Rose Bowl to go 26-0 and have no national championship hardware to show for it, the team would be a true anomaly of the era.
Although it is wiped from the NCAA record book, USC's 34-game win streak was impressive because of its length but also because of the trophies the team brought home. After beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl following the 2003 season, the Trojans brought home the Associated Press national title. The 2004 season capped off an undefeated run and both the AP and BCS national championships.
Vacated or not, the nation knows the Trojans not only dominated football, but also put the crown on their heads to prove that dominance. As it stands, the Buckeyes will not get to experience that in the first 26 games of this streak.
The Buckeye faithful should also be familiar with the other recent 34-game win streak—Ohio State was the team that ended it, en route to a BCS title. Following a 2000, early September loss to No. 15 Washington, Miami finished the season with a Sugar Bowl win over Florida and a No. 2 ranking in both the Coaches' and AP Polls. In 2001, after surviving a close one with Virginia Tech, the Hurricanes would hoist the BCS championship trophy, still unblemished.
As 2002 rolled around, it seemed to be more of the same as the Hurricanes arrived at the Fiesta Bowl expecting to get to 35 wins and back-to-back trophies. What transpired was a solid Buckeyes defensive effort, a questionable pass interference call and ultimately an end to the winning at 34 games without the second title.
Ohio State, without serious help from Alabama, Oregon or Florida State, is on a crash course with a less-than-ideal destiny. There are no similar examples to the Buckeyes, because nothing like this has happened in the BCS era. Urban Meyer, a man whose legend has grown thanks in part to the BCS, would have a team with which Boise State and Auburn would empathize.
Boise State won 36 consecutive regular-season games from 2008-10 and was 38-2 over three seasons. A bowl loss to TCU in 2008 and the heartbreaker to Nevada in 2010 bookend the 24-game win streak spanning 2009 into 2010. After a Fiesta Bowl to cap off 2009's undefeated campaign, the Broncos kept winning, climbing to the No. 4 spot in the BCS Standings.
But that was as high as the Broncos climbed that season, losing in November to Nevada. But the parallel between Boise and Ohio State is clear: Boise State could not pass Oregon, Auburn and TCU, despite its best efforts; the Buckeyes cannot leap Alabama, Oregon and Florida State.
Similarly, the Broncos were not going to play for BCS Championship, even if the 26-game win streak was still active. That is precisely Ohio State's predicament.
The difference is the Buckeyes do not play in the Mountain West, and they're not an outsider to the world of major collegiate football, hoping to garner respect. The Buckeyes are not a proverbial little guy hoping to siphon off a little of the cash that the big boys hoard on a yearly basis. The Buckeyes are one of the "haves," and this is not supposed to happen to them.
Which is exactly what Auburn thought in 2004. But the Tigers found themselves on the outside, staring at No. 2 Oklahoma getting boat-raced by No. 1 USC in the Orange Bowl. Although Tommy Tuberville's team did not put together the win streak that Meyer's unit could amass, they know the sting of being a traditional college football stalwart left out in the cold.
A sting that Florida State, if all plays out as expected, would also be forced to get familiar with this postseason.
With the college football playoff set to begin next season, four or five undefeated teams from major conferences won't stir this much controversy...at least nothing that matters in the grand scheme of the collegiate football world.
There will be complaining. There will be people upset, especially fans. But as the odd man out, the Buckeyes will be forced to simply keep on, keeping on. The streak, by itself, would remain an achievement to be celebrated, and as far as consolation prizes go, a Rose Bowl win isn't too shabby.
Plus, should the Buckeyes get to 26-0, the team would be knocking on the door of history. With 26 in the tank, 12 on the schedule for 2013, a Big Ten Championship Game, plus the semifinals and finals, a 2014 championship in the inaugural season of the playoff mean potential to push for 41 in a row. A 41-game win streak would give the Buckeyes the championship Meyer likely won't get this season, and it would land Ohio State the second-longest streak in Division I football history.
But, let's not put the cart before the horse. Ohio State sits at 21 in a row, with plenty of football to be played. Meyer's team has to take care of business and, in the process, hope two of the roadblocks stopping them from climbing the BCS rankings take a tumble.