Ohio State Football: Are the Buckeyes' Title Hopes On the Line In Madison?

Grant FrekingCorrespondent IOctober 13, 2010

Former OSU running back Chris Wells had 168 yards on 22 carries against Wisconsin in 2008.
Former OSU running back Chris Wells had 168 yards on 22 carries against Wisconsin in 2008.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

In a word, yes.

If the BCS standings were to come out today, Ohio State would be No. 5 according to ESPN’s Brad Edwards. The main issue the computers have right now with the nation’s consensus No. 1 team is their strength of schedule, which took a hit with Miami’s embarrassing loss to Florida State.

Strength of schedule shouldn’t be an issue for OSU so long as they win out and Miami, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan don’t completely fall apart.

But make no mistake about it, this game represents Ohio State’s toughest test of the season.

I actually covered this topic back in July.

If OSU wins out, they will play for the national championship.

However, a loss Saturday likely ends OSU’s national title hopes. Boise State is not going to lose and there’s no way the Buckeyes would reach the title game over a one-loss SEC team.

The task is so tall on Saturday for OSU because of the two teams’ recent history in Madison.

Although OSU leads the all-time series 53-17-5 and is 25-10-2 in Madison, they only hold a 5-4 advantage in the last nine meetings.

Furthermore, the last three games in Camp Randall Stadium between the Buckeyes and the Badgers have been decided by a total of 15 points.

The crowning moment of Terrelle Pryor’s freshman year came two years ago when he led a 12-play, 80-yard drive that culminated with Pryor taking an 11-yard option keeper off the left edge to give OSU a 20-17 lead with 1:08 left in the game.

Pryor and OSU will arrive in Madison with a 12-game winning streak.

Back in 2003, the defending national champion Buckeyes took at 19-game winning streak into Madison. Thanks to a 79-yard touchdown catch from Lee Evans with 5:20 left in the game, OSU lost 17-10.

However, the Scarlet and Gray have a few things going for them. OSU is 19-1 in their last 20 Big Ten road games. Under Jim Tressel, they are 13-6 on the road against ranked teams and have won their past six Big Ten night games.

They’ve won in “whiteouts” (at Penn State in 2007 and at Wisconsin in 2008) and “blackouts” (at Iowa in 2006 and at Purdue in 2007).

The ultimate noteworthy statistic: Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema has never beaten Ohio State.

Are OSU’s title hopes on the line Saturday? Yes, they will be on the line every Saturday until the regular season ends. But chances are when Badger fans in Camp Randall Stadium are “Jumpin’ Around” after the third quarter, they won’t be doing so with smiles on their faces.