The Buckeyes will be going "bowling" for the 11th straight season, as they are already bowl eligible with eight wins.
Ohio State has played in a BCS game the past five seasons, including two National Championship games. Since 2002 the program has played in a total of seven BCS games.
This season, the Buckeyes are again back in the hunt for a BCS Bowl game. They have a very unlikely shot at playing for the national title.
Depending what happens the rest of the season, Ohio State could find itself in one of eight different bowl games, barring the Buckeyes don't completely implode and lose two of their last three games, or all three if things really go downhill.
In order of likeliest to least likeliest, here are the possible Bowl games that Jim Tressel and his team could find themselves in.
Ohio State currently ranks No. 11 in the BCS standings. If the Buckeyes win out, beating Penn State, Iowa and Michigan, there is no way that an 11-1 team whose fans travel they way they do would be kept out of a BCS Bowl game.
Even if Wisconsin and Michigan State both win out and there is a three-way tie for the Big Ten Championship, Ohio State would still get the nod to play in either the Orange, Sugar or Fiesta Bowl.
No more than two teams from one conference can play in the BCS Bowl games. If the Badgers, the Spartans and the Buckeyes all win out, Wisconsin will likely play in the Rose Bowl and Ohio State would be the other Big Ten team in the BCS mix.
The Buckeyes are ranked higher than the Spartans in this week's BCS standings and they have a tougher remaining schedule than Michigan State does, so there's no way Sparty jumps Ohio State in the BCS.
Win out and Ohio State will find itself in a BCS Bowl game.
In order for Ohio State to play in its second straight Rose Bowl, it needs a little help from Purdue, Indiana, Michigan or Northwestern.
Those are the remaining opponents for Wisconsin, and if the Badgers and Buckeyes both win out, it will be Wisconsin representing the Big Ten in Pasadena.
The Badgers hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Ohio State and if the Big Ten were to finish in a three-way tie for first with the Buckeyes, Wisconsin and Michigan State, the school ranked highest in the final BCS standings will play in the Rose Bowl, according to Big Ten conference tiebreakers.
It's not impossible for Wisconsin to lose. The Badgers play the Wolverines in Ann Arbor the second-to-last week of the season, a place where they haven't won since 1994.
After playing Michigan, Wisconsin will host Northwestern the final week of the regular season. The Wildcats had Michigan State on the ropes for much of the Oct. 23 game between the two, and they stunned the Badgers last year, beating them 33-31.
If the Buckeyes slip up in any one of their final three games, they could find themselves playing in the Gator Bowl.
The Gator Bowl pits the No. 4 or No. 5 team in the Big Ten against the No. 6 team in the SEC.
If Ohio State were to lose one of its final three games, it would likely be in Kinnick Stadium against Iowa. Assuming that's where the loss occurs, the Buckeyes would need help to avoid playing in the Gator Bowl.
Now, there's all sorts of possibilities and scenarios for what Bowl game Ohio State could play in should it lose, but the simplest one is this:
- The Buckeyes lose at Iowa
- Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State all win out
- Wisconsin is the only Big Ten team invited to a BCS bowl game.
That would put Ohio State at No. 4 in the Big Ten.
If Iowa or Michigan State were to get an at-large bid to play in a BCS game, the Buckeyes would play in the Bowl game with a slot reserved for the No. 3 team in the Big Ten, which would be the Outback Bowl.
With a loss to Iowa, Ohio State could very well wind up in the Capital One Bowl.
Iowa would likely get a BCS at-large bid, regardless if Wisconsin loses or not. The Hawkeyes would have wins over the Buckeyes and Michigan State, and their only losses would be to the Badgers and Arizona.
With Wisconsin playing in the Rose Bowl and Iowa receiving an at-large bid, the only thing standing between Ohio State and the Capital One Bowl would be a Spartans loss—like a Wisconsin loss, not impossible.
Michigan State plays in Happy Valley against Penn State to close out the regular season. Look for that game to be one of the Nittany Lions' customary white-out games and a difficult game for Sparty.
The Buckeyes started their 11-year streak with back-to-back appearances in the Outback Bowl against South Carolina. In 2001, Ohio State lost to the Gamecocks 24-7 in coach John Cooper's last game, and in 2002 the Buckeyes fell again 31-28 after a late comeback attempt fell short.
If Ohio State loses, it could find its way back to Tampa.
Again, there are tons of scenarios and possibilities for what could happen, but if the Buckeyes were to lose, the simplest way they could end up playing in the Outback Bowl would be if:
- The loss came against Iowa
- Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State all win out
- Two of those three get bids to play in a BCS game
Under those circumstances, the team (out of Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State) that does not get a BCS bid will play in the Capital One Bowl, which has a spot reserved for the Big Ten's No. 2 team. But if two Big Ten teams play in BCS games the spot would go to the next Big Ten team in line.
Ohio State could also find itself in the Outback Bowl if it loses to Iowa and only one Big Ten team (Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl) plays in a BCS game and Michigan State loses.
Not at all likely, but it is possible. Ohio State could find its way back into the National Championship mix if it wins out and has a ton of help.
In 2007, the Buckeyes fell to No. 7 in the BCS with one game to play after losing to Illinois, only to find themselves ranked No. 1 when the final standings were released. In order for Ohio State to play in this year's title game, it's going to need something similar to happen, but on steroids.
As crazy as this sounds, the Buckeyes do have a chance to play for the championship.
One of my buddies has come up with an ultimate plan for Ohio State to reach the National Championship game. I have to say, at first I thought he was insane when he unveiled it to me, but after thinking about it, it is possible, albeit extremely far fetched.
Bear with me, it is a bit complex, but in order for the Buckeyes to be playing on Jan. 10 in Arizona, the following (on the next slide) needs to happen, according to him:
1. Ohio State needs to win out
2. Texas A&M beats Oklahoma
3. South Carolina beats Florida
4. Oklahoma beats Baylor/Oklahoma State winner
5. Alabama beats LSU
6. Alabama beats Auburn
7. Arizona or Oregon State beats Oregon
8. Nevada beats Boise State
9. South Carolina beats Alabama in SEC Championship game
10. Oklahoma/Oklahoma State/Baylor/Texas A&M beats Nebraska in Big 12 Championship game (key is anyone to beat Nebraska in title game needs two losses)
He thinks that the following should result in Ohio State playing against the undefeated TCU/Utah winner, one-loss Auburn or one-loss Wisconsin.
Crazy—I know. But I don't think it's impossible. However, I personally believe the Badgers need to lose. I don't think the Buckeyes will jump them in the BCS if they both have the same overall record at 11-1, considering Wisconsin beat Ohio State. But he says Wisconsin needs to keep on winning because as the Badgers move up in the BCS, they'll take the Buckeyes with them.
This is a valid point, but I don't see any possibility of an all Big Ten National Championship game.
Once it's all said and over with, I see the Buckeyes playing in a BCS game, most likely the Orange or Fiesta Bowl.
I think they're going to beat their remaining three opponents, but I'm not sure if Wisconsin will slip up along the way. If they don't and the Big Ten ends in a three-way tie, I don't think Ohio State will jump the Badgers in the BCS standings for the spot in the Rose Bowl.
Although, Wisconsin could be the beneficiary of late-season carnage and find itself playing for the National Championship. Then, the Buckeyes would be playing in Pasadena on New Year's Day, assuming that TCU, Utah and Boise State all lose, or if one of them goes undefeated, they play in the championship game, due to an obscure rule in the BCS Selection Procedures. (See Team-Selection Process, No. 3)
There's a lot of football to be played and things are going to change week-by-week, but that's how I see everything playing out right now.