Ohio State’s loss to Wisconsin, Saturday night in Madison, will likely cost the Buckeyes a chance to play for the National Championship. Baring something crazy happening, a la 2007 when No.1 Ohio State lost its second-to-last game of the season, dropped to No.7 in all the major polls, but found itself ranked No.1 in the final BCS standings, the Buckeyes won’t be playing in Glendale, Ariz., on Jan. 10.
As deflating as the loss may be for the Scarlet and Gray, who were title game favorites along with Alabama, the five-time defending Big-Ten champions still have the conference championship and a second-consecutive Rose Bowl appearance to play for.
Capturing the conference crown this season, would tie the record for most-consecutive Big Ten Championships. Ohio State won six straight conference titles from 1972 through 1977; the only school to win the Big Ten in six consecutive seasons.
But losing to the Badgers may have cost Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes a shot at playing in the Rose Bowl for the second straight year and the chance to tie Woody Hayes’ 1970s Ohio Sate teams.
With the loss, the Buckeyes are 6-1 and tied for fourth with Wisconsin in the Big Ten at 2-1. Ahead of Ohio State is Purdue, who the Buckeyes play this week, Iowa, the only ranked opponent remaining on Ohio State’s schedule, and Michigan State, who is undefeated.
Even if Ohio State finishes 11-1 and 7-1 in the Big Ten, it's not guaranteed the Big Ten title.
First off, if the Spartans run the table and go undefeated, the title is theirs outright, and there is nothing the Buckeyes can do about it—they don’t play Michigan State. They are one of two Big Ten teams (Northwestern) Ohio State does not play this season.
Secondly, if Wisconsin wins out and finishes at 7-1 in the Big Ten, they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Buckeyes and would earn the trip to Rose Bowl if Ohio State and Wisconsin are the only teams in the Big Ten at 7-1.
Technically, if the Badgers and Buckeyes both finished at 7-1, Ohio State’s consecutive Big Ten Championship streak would continue because the two would be considered co-champions.
Nevertheless, to have to share the Big Ten title and not be the Big Ten’s representative in the Rose Bowl would be a major letdown for a team who once had National Championship aspirations.