Road to Miami: All Hope is Not Gone, Buckeye Nation

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Road to Miami: All Hope is Not Gone, Buckeye Nation

35–3. A flop that big hasn't been seen in Los Angeles since the days of Vlade Divac.

35-3. The Buckeyes are done.  Their hopes of an unprecedented third-straight BCS Championship are gone…or are they?

It's still early in the season and some very strange things can happen in the next two-plus months of college football.  Here's a clear road map of how the Buckeyes can wind up in the BCS Championship Game:

Ohio State is currently ranked 13th in the nation.  The dirty dozen ahead of them are USC, Georgia, Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri, LSU, Texas, Wisconsin, Alabama, Auburn, Texas Tech, and South Florida.

With the exception of USC, South Florida, and Wisconsin, every team ranked ahead of the Buckeyes will be playing one another at least once between now and the end of the season guaranteeing most teams ahead of at least one loss. 

Another advantage that Wisconsin, USC and USF, have over the other teams is that they do not have a conference championship game. 

A quick look at the USC and the USF schedule shows some tough games for each team.  However, when USC’s team strength is compared to the strength of their opponents they appear, on paper, to have a clear path to the BCS Championship Game.  The same is difficult to say for USF in this young season.

USC pounded the Buckeyes and their toughest game appears to be behind them.  They do have a few tough games:  Oregon, Arizona State, California and UCLA.  The first three are at home, so the road ahead is much easier.  I really don’t think that the Trojans will take Stanford or any other team on their schedule lightly.  My moronic odds: 2-1

Even at 3-0, it’s quite difficult to gauge how good South Florida is this early in the season, as they could easily have lost their last two games.  USF faces mostly unranked teams this season with its toughest challenge when it rolls into current No. 21, West Virginia, on the last game of their regular season. 

Other tough games for USF: NC State, Louisville, and Pittsburgh.  However, any loss by USF should put them down behind the Buckeyes, as no team they lose to would be close to being in the class with USC.   My moronic odds: 7-1.

Wisconsin’s schedule is marked with ranked Big 10 foes that all travel to Camp Randall: Ohio State, Penn State, and Illinois.  The Ohio State and Penn State games will be thunderous nighttime games that will, no-doubt, put an exclamation point on the phrase “Home Field Advantage.” 

The Badgers also travel to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes.  Like Bo Schembechler, Barry Alvarez is a legend at Wisconsin, but neither won a national championship.  Bo’s successor did, could Barry’s?  My moronic odds: 5-1. 

With those three teams aside it gets to be a much cloudier picture.  Let’s take a look at the Big 12 first:

Texas Tech probably have it the toughest when the team’s actual perceived strength is put up against the teams on their schedule:  They visit Texas A&M, Kansas and Oklahoma and have Nebraska and Texas at home.  If they make it through those games they’ll also have the Big 12 Conference Championship Game.  My moronic odds: 30-1.

I see a difficult schedule for the Texas Longhorns too:  At Colorado, at Oklahoma, at Texas Tech, at Kansas with home games against Arkansas and Texas A&M.  Should the Longhorns make it through those games unblemished they’ll still have to face the champion of the Big 12 North.  My moronic odds: 25-1.

When the Missouri Tigers’ talent is pitted against the difficulty of their schedule it appears to give them a decent shot of winding up in Miami.  They travel to Nebraska and Texas but dodge Texas Tech, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma in the regular season.  They should end up facing the Big 12 South champion Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game.

Speaking of Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma Sooners…like Wisconsin they get to stay at home for their ranked opponents:  Texas, Kansas and Texas Tech along with soon-to-be-ranked Nebraska.

They do have a few potholes in the road, though, with visits to Texas A&M and a regular season-ending game with in-state rival Oklahoma State.  They’ll have to navigate that unblemished then knock off the Big 12 North champs if they’re going to keep the Buckeyes out of Miami.  My moronic odds: 3-2.

The South Eastern Conference is nearly impossible to figure out as half of the current Top 10 teams come from that conference:  No. 3 Georgia, No. 4 Florida, No. 6 LSU, No. 9 Alabama and No. 10 Auburn.  Throw in Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Arkansas and it’s quite likely that the SEC Champion has two losses…perhaps three.  My moronic odds for all those listed above: 3-1

Georgia: This weekend Georgia travels across the country to take on a embarrassed and angry Arizona State Sun Devils team who lost to unranked UNLV last weekend.  Georgia has home games with Florida and Alabama and visits LSU and Auburn.

Florida: In a non-conference, intra-state match Florida travels to Tallahassee to take on the No. 24 Florida State Seminoles to wrap up their season.  Florida appears to have the inside track in the SEC, as they only have LSU at home but travels to Georgia to take on the Bulldogs.

LSU:  Although the Tigers have a cream puff non-conference schedule, they do have tough road games at Auburn, at Florida and at South Carolina and also play host to Georgia and Alabama. 

Alabama:  The Crimson Tide take on Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, and LSU on the road, then end the season against the Auburn Tigers.

Auburn:  I’m certainly not sure what to make of the Auburn Tigers after the 3-2 win over Mississippi State last week. The Tigers have a non-conference bout at West Virginia although the Mountaineers appear to be well off their game of recent years.  The Tigers home slate includes bouts with LSU and Georgia with a regular season-ending road game at Alabama.

The Buckeyes' BCS Express has been derailed and the hand-wringing continues here in Columbus but all hopes aren’t dashed: Win out and hope others falter, and you just may find yourselves on a beach in Miami in January.

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