Ask any Ohio State fan, and he or she will tell you that the Buckeyes deserve to be in a bowl game this year. The fact that the Buckeyes are a mortal lock for a BCS bowl bid even if they lose the Big Ten Championship is, we're sure, just a happy coincidence on that front. As we showed on Monday, if the BCS decided to include Ohio State in its rankings, the Buckeyes would probably show up at No. 3—one spot out of the national championship.
Now, undoubtedly there are some AP voters who are keeping Ohio State lower than normal thanks to the postseason ineligibility. There are some voters who have the Buckeyes No. 2, mind you—20 of them. But there's even more (21) that have the Buckeyes ranked fifth—or lower. One voter's got Ohio State at No. 14: Josh Kendall, of The State in South Carolina.
Imagine that. An 11-0 Big Ten team, one win away from completing a perfect regular season with a sophomore quarterback and a first-year head coach...ranked 14th in someone's eyes. Ranked behind six SEC teams. Heck, ranked behind two ACC teams. Yeah.
Ohio State doesn't have a perfect resume. The Big Ten is down, down, down this year, and that lapse in quality has affected the strength of Ohio State's schedule. That 21-20 slugfest of a win over Michigan State sure doesn't look as good now that the Spartans have a losing record. What would normally be a championship-caliber overtime thriller against Wisconsin now looks pretty lousy with the Badgers sitting unranked with four losses. Whipping Nebraska was cool. A win over Michigan would also bolster the resume. But that's pretty much it.
It also doesn't help, of course, that Ohio State played an absolute cake non-conference schedule, one that meant the Buckeyes raised from 18th all the way to 14th after the four weeks of non-con action. One spot a week. Good job, good effort.
But let's be honest: This has everything to do with the fact that Ohio State isn't in national championship contention thanks to its postseason ban. If a team is out of that mix, all of a sudden voters don't have to be slaves to the record and that annoying "win go up lose go down" lazy polling. Instead they can just judge teams on their merits, and to some (heavily misguided) voters, Ohio State's actually not better than fifth in the nation, record aside.
Also, consider this: If the Big Ten were holding Ohio State back, we'd see it in the computer rankings. The computers only consider record and strength of schedule, after all, so if Ohio State's schedule were true cake it would bear out in the unbiased eye of mathematics.
And yet, the computers do rank Ohio State, because otherwise there's no way to accurately measure the rest of the teams the Buckeyes play. The computers just take ineligible teams out of the rankings before they submit them to the BCS. And sure enough, there's Ohio State at No. 3 overall in the mathematical formula polling.
In other words, this is about voters either not wanting an ineligible team in the title mix at the end of the year or not realizing how good Ohio State's resume is to the computers since OSU is left out of the published BCS rankings. The Big Ten may be bad, but it's not Ohio State's real problem here.