Ohio State Football: 6 Reasons Why Buckeyes Are Not Out of Big Ten Race Just Yet
While Ohio State has not played well in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes still can compete for a conference title.
Penn State, Illinois, Wisconsin and Purdue are ahead in the Leaders Division standings, but that can change in a hurry.
Here are six reasons why the Buckeyes could rebound to play in the Big Ten Championship Game.
Big Ten Losses Were to Legends Division Teams
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To compete in the Big Ten Championship Game, the champion of the Leader and Legends Divisions will play.
Ohio State has two conference losses, but those were to Legends Division schools Michigan State and Nebraska.
The Buckeyes are 1-0 in the Leaders Division, beating Illinois 17-7. Four of the remaining five of Ohio State's opponents are Leaders schools.
Losing two conference games is not good. These losses, though, did not affect the Buckeyes with crucial divisional tiebreakers.
Key Players Are Back After NCAA Suspensions
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Partly why Ohio State got off to a slow start was key players served NCAA suspensions.
Senior left tackle Mike Adams and senior defensive end Solomon Thomas missed the first five games, while senior running back Daniel Herron missed the first six.
These three players are now playing and have made an impact.
Herron's first game back saw him collect 114 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown. Herron is one of the top Big Ten backs and he will make some noise in the running game with sophomore Carlos Hyde.
The offensive line produced 107 yards per game not counting the stats against weaker opponents Akron and Toledo. With Adams back the last two game, the Buckeyes have averaged 227 rushing yards per game.
These returning seniors will make Ohio State tougher to beat.
2 Weeks To Prepare for Wisconsin Home Game
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No. 4 Wisconsin is no walk in the park, but the Buckeyes get two weeks to prepare for the Badgers.
Coach Luke Fickell and his team will get to watch how No. 15 Michigan State attacks Wisconsin.
The Spartans are a tough defensive team who will wear Wisconsin down.
Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller will also have more time to heal from an ankle injury that clearly hampered his performance against Illinois.
Besides resting, Ohio State will get to play at Ohio Stadium for a special homecoming event honoring former Buckeye great Eddie George.
The players will do their best to honor the Heisman-winning George with a victory.
Indiana and Purdue Will Be Easy Victories
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After Wisconsin, the Buckeyes will face Big Ten weaklings Indiana and Purdue.
The Hoosiers are 1-6 and 0-3 in Big Ten action. They are ranked 95th in points allowed (31.7 per game) and 99th in points scored (21 per game). Indiana's lone win was against South Carolina State.
Purdue is 3-3 with a 1-1 conference mark. The Boilermakers beat up on weaker teams in Middle Tennessee State, Southeast Missouri State and Minnesota. However, they dropped a 23-18 dud to Rice and suffered defeats to Notre Dame and Penn State.
These games should be easy pickings for the Buckeyes.
Penn State, Illinois and Wisconsin Have Tough Remaining Schedule
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Wisconsin will face No. 23 Illinois and No. 15 Michigan State on the road while hosting Penn State.
Illinois will be challenged by Penn State on the road. No. 18 Michigan and Wisconsin come to Champaign.
Penn State will host Illinois and No. 13 Nebraska while going to Wisconsin.
These teams will beat up on each other and allow the Buckeyes to catch up.
Buckeyes Can Realistically Run the Table
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Winning the last five games to play in the Big Ten Championship Game is not a stretch and quite attainable.
Ohio State is relatively healthy and has key players like senior running back Daniel Herron and senior left tackle Mike Adams to strengthen the offense.
The Buckeyes host Wisconsin at home after the Badgers will be battered and bruised following their Michigan State game.
Indiana and Purdue provide a nice reprieve, gearing Ohio State to host Penn State.
The Buckeyes will face No. 18 Michigan in Ann Arbor to finish the regular season. The Wolverines will be coming off battles against No. 23 Illinois and No. 13 Nebraska.
While Ohio State is behind, the team needs to take care of its own business first.