Big Ten Losses Outside the Conference Affect Ohio State's BCS Title Hopes

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IINovember 17, 2013

The last time Ohio State won a national championship, Craig Krenzel was the quarterback, and Jim Tressel was the head coach.
The last time Ohio State won a national championship, Craig Krenzel was the quarterback, and Jim Tressel was the head coach.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Even though Ohio State is a perfect 10-0 in 2013, the Buckeyes remain No. 3 in the BCS Bowl rankings and appear to be out of the picture for an appearance in the BCS Championship game in January.

The Buckeyes are 22-0 over the past two seasons under head coach Urban Meyer. With a career record of 127-23, Meyer has been successful at every stop. He began his collegiate head coaching career at Bowling Green State University, moved on to Utah and won two national championships at Florida in 2006 and 2008. He has yet to lose a single game at OSU but does not have any hardware to put in the Ohio State trophy case to prove it.

Last year the Buckeyes went 12-0 but were ineligible to play for the Big Ten championship or in the national championship game due to self-imposed sanctions and stayed home during the bowl season.

The undefeated Buckeyes are ranked third behind two other undefeated teams, Alabama and Florida State.

Alabama, under head coach Nick Saban, has won the NCAA Division I National Championship three of the last four years. Florida State’s young quarterback, Jameis Winston is all the rage among college football media and may keep Ohio State out of the national championship game again this year.

Braxton Miller and Urban Meyer have a 22-0 record at Ohio State.
Braxton Miller and Urban Meyer have a 22-0 record at Ohio State.Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Big Ten has an image problem. Its record in bowl games over the past several years is abysmal, and when its members play good teams outside the league early in the season, they lose.

Although Ohio State has not helped itself by playing a relatively weak non-conference schedule, three key losses by Big Ten teams early in the 2013 season have affected Ohio State’s BCS ranking.

In September, Wisconsin was ranked No. 20 but lost at Arizona State University 32-30. ASU was not ranked and pulled out a win after an unusual finish at Sun Devil Stadium. With the ball on the 13-yard line, the Wisconsin quarterback tried to center the ball for the winning field goal with 18 seconds remaining on the clock. Wisconsin did not have any timeouts remaining, and the clock ran out before the Badgers could make the attempt.

Wisconsin has gone on to an 8-2 record, losing only to Ohio State in conference play, and climbed back inside the top 25 in the nation. 

Michigan State was undefeated when it lost to No. 22 Notre Dame in September. The top-ranked Spartan defense held Notre Dame to 220 yards of total offense, but several pass interference calls against the Spartan defense and an interception on a trick play proved to be the undoing for MSU.

Notre Dame won 17-14 and is the only blemish on the season for the Spartans. They are undefeated in the Big Ten and have rebounded to No. 16 in the BCS rankings.

Perhaps the biggest blow to Ohio State’s championship hopes has been issued by Michigan. The Buckeyes have won eight of the last nine Michigan games, but Michigan is getting its revenge this season.

The Akron Zips gave Michigan all it could handle in September.
The Akron Zips gave Michigan all it could handle in September.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Wolverines started the season strong with a win over No. 14 Notre Dame. The next week, versus Mid-American Conference member Akron, UM struggled and only managed to eke out a 28-24 win.

BCS computers and voters do not look kindly on a Big Ten team that struggles to beat an inferior opponent.

Michigan struggled again the next week versus the University of Connecticut and did further damage to the image of the Big Ten.

These three games early in the season gave the perception to BCS voters that the Big Ten is not as dominant as it should be when playing outside the conference.

NCAA sanctions levied against Penn State have also hurt the league tremendously. Penn State is a perennial power in the nation but has not been able to regain its dominance since the Jerry Sandusky affair.

For Ohio State to be appreciated by the BCS voters and, more importantly, by the BCS computers, the Big Ten needs Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, Michigan State and Wisconsin to become more competitive when playing teams outside the Big Ten.

They can begin to change the perception of the conference's strength by winning bowl games this year. But those will be too late to affect the BCS voting for this season.

The Buckeyes would not have a problem if it was the 2014 season. The top four ranked teams will go into a playoff for the national championship next year.