Ohio State Football: Will 2012 Bowl Ban Keep Buckeyes out of 2013 Title Game?

David RegimbalFeatured ColumnistNovember 14, 2013

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 28:  Head Coach Urban Meyer of the Ohio State Buckeyes watches his team warm up before a game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium on September 28, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Despite finishing the 2012 season with a perfect record, Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes were shut out of the national title game because of a postseason ban brought on by the NCAA violations committed under Jim Tressel.

The Buckeyes, still unbeaten, are eligible this seasonbut is last year's bowl ban hurting Ohio State's chances to make this year's title game?

It shouldn't, but it might be.

When the Week 12 BCS rankings were released, the Buckeyes came in at a distant third behind top-ranked Alabama and No. 2 Florida State. Ohio State's position at No. 3 isn't solid, either, as fifth-ranked (and undefeated) Baylor has the schedule to potentially leap the Buckeyes.

Those four teams hold the nation's longest winning streaks. The Buckeyes, at 21, have the longest by a wide margin, yet somelike Yahoo's Pat Fordehold the opinion that they're the weakest of the group.

Why is that?

Of the 21 teams Ohio State has beaten, none are considered elite.

Only two of the opponents Ohio State defeated last year—No. 25 Nebraska and No. 24 Michigan—finished the season ranked in the AP poll. The Buckeyes' signature victory this year came over a two-loss Wisconsin team that's currently ranked 22nd in the BCS standings.

Still, winning 21 consecutive games is impressive, but the Buckeyes haven't looked as dominant against what is perceived to be weaker competition.

Baylor, for example, has only played one ranked team (a wildly overrated Oklahoma squad), but the Bears have destroyed their eight opponents by an average of 45.6 points per game this year.

The Buckeyes just don't get the kind of respect that would usually coincide with a 21-game win streak. One AP voter, Jon Wilner, has Ohio State ranked eighth behind five one-loss teams (Stanford, Oregon, Auburn, Clemson and Missouri).

Ohio State's struggled to beat a mediocre Northwestern squad, fueling the negative perception surrounding the Buckeyes.
Ohio State's struggled to beat a mediocre Northwestern squad, fueling the negative perception surrounding the Buckeyes.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If the Buckeyes had been bowl eligible last year, they would have had the opportunity to prove that they can beat elite competition.

It's unknown whether the Buckeyes would have gotten into the title game to play Notre Dame over a one-loss Alabama team, but at the very least, the Buckeyes would have gone to the Rose Bowl to face Stanford.

Had the Buckeyes played that game and hypothetically beaten a strong (and well-regarded) Cardinal team, would the national perception of Ohio State be different?

Teams often use bowl-game performances as a launching point for higher goals the following season. Because of the bowl ban, Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes missed out on an opportunity to change the way people view them.

Of course, this could be a moot point if Alabama or Florida State falter down the stretch. If that domino doesn't fall, though, last year's bowl ban could come back to haunt the Buckeyes this season.

David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.