After this week of upsets and shuffling in the Top 25, it was agreed that after the top three teams in the country, the rest was a lot of guesswork. Not surprisingly, I found after a dominating 30-0 victory over Illinois, Ohio State found themselves at No. 9, still two spots back of their ranking going into the season.
Ahead of them are such teams as Boise State, USC, Oklahoma, and Virginia Tech. I got to thinking—is Ohio State really worse than these teams? I believe the answer is no. And I believe that the Big 10 conference does not receive the respect it deserves.
Of course, Ohio State lost to USC, but for those who actually watched the game (obviously not Mark May or the rest at ESPN proclaiming the game marked the "arrival of Matt Barkley"), it was clear who the better team was.
Through a combination of Terrelle Pryor mistakes (there were several), conservative play calling, and a defense that was clearly worn down from being on the field so long, the Buckeyes lost a game they clearly should have won. Of course, Ohio State dropped a few more spots after dropping the prior week after a win.
Then came the Washington game. In my mind, I thought it was obvious that Ohio State would leapfrog USC after shutting out Toledo, who coming into that game had the best offense in all of college football.
Ohio State lost to the No. 3 team in the country, while USC lost to a team who won zero games the prior year. Which is worse? To my great surprise, I found Ohio State had dropped two spots, being jumped by Miami and Oklahoma (more on them later), and pushed back by a USC team that still remained ahead of Ohio State.
I fully expected Ohio State to drop after pitching their second consecutive shutout, this time to Juice Williams and Illinois, until it happened that the fourth, fifth, sixth, and ninth ranked teams lost in that week. As we stand, Ohio State is ninth.
So why does Ohio State deserve to be higher?
Let's start with the defense. The first game, at Navy, the defense looked like a liability instead of an asset. Navy ran the triple-option all over the Buckeye defense, and the much smaller Navy O-line continually created holes against the much more athletic Ohio State D-line.
The consensus was that Ohio State's defense was not on par with those of years past. Then, during the USC game, something amazing happened. The supposedly unstoppable USC rushing attack was contained beautifully for the vast majority of the game, and the defense gave the offense every chance to win the game.
Next week, against a Toledo team that managed over 600 yards of offense the week before, Ohio State's D stepped up big time. Toledo was not even close to field goal range, much less sniffing the end zone.
Then, low and behold, the defense does it again, bottling the Juice and the "dynamic" Illinois offense and holding another team to a big goose egg. So throw out the Navy game—the triple option offense is something that Ohio State had never seen and could not be replicated by the scout team as well in practice.
Other than that, Ohio State's defense has been the best in the country.
Going forward, we can assume Terrelle Pryor, the best athlete in the country, will continue to mature and grow as a quarterback. We can expect many more games like his performance against Toledo with fewer mistakes and better decisions.
Pryor has a chance to be just as good as, if not better than Vince Young and Tim Tebow, and there is no reason not to expect him to reach that level. When it comes to bowl season, you can bet Terrelle will have matured even more and will become one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the country.
This being said, the instances of disrespect against Ohio State and the Big Ten are blatant and unfair. Michigan is 4-0, but finds itself behind such teams as BYU, who got destroyed by unranked Florida State, and Ole Miss, who has shown no one any reason why they should even be ranked.
It took a win over Penn State for Iowa to get any respect at all, even though teams like Nebraska, Missouri, and North Carolina have shown up in the polls without doing anything at all to deserve it.
And why is it that when USC loses to Washington, who did not win a game last year, they drop from No. 3 to No. 12, while Penn State drops from No. 5 to No. 15 when losing to a team now ranked ahead of them?
Now that we're on the topic of double standards, it comes time to discuss Oklahoma. The Sooners carry a bowl losing streak longer than that of Ohio State, but theirs is actually much more embarrassing, with blowout losses to USC and upsets with Boise State. You don't hear much about them being overrated, do you?
Meanwhile, Ohio State loses to Texas, a team that is supposed to be in the National Championship game, in the final minutes. They outplay USC and lose in the final seconds.
Does anyone talk about how Ohio State was supposed to get blown out in both of these games, and not have a prayer against these "far superior" opponents? Does anyone talk about how the 2007 National Championship team only found themselves there because USC blew yet another easy Pac-10 game?
No, you hear about how Ohio State is overrated, even though it is always the opposite that is true.
So consider this—is Ohio State really worse than Boise State? Are they really worse than LSU, who needed a goal line stand to hold off Mississippi State, the doormat of the SEC? What about Oklahoma, who has an entirely new offensive line and lost to a BYU team that got embarrassed by Florida State at home?
And tell me, are they really worse than USC, who they outplayed and have shown that they are not the USC of years past?
I think not. It is time for the college football community to give the Ohio State University the respect it deserves.