For 2012 Buckeyes, It’s AP or Bust
By Eric Brinkman (aka 45buckshot) - Guest the-Ozone Blogger
(Editor’s Note: Eric Brinkman is an Ohio State fan and a regular contributor on The-Ozone Forum. He does not represent the thoughts or opinions of the staff here at The-Ozone.net. He does, however, represent you, the reader. We felt his thoughts were probably not unique amongst those who wear the scarlet and gray with pride.
Eric submitted this piece to us unsolicited and we thought it was good enough to publish it for him.)
At the beginning of this season, I posted on several different websites my expectation for the Buckeyes in this 2012 football season.
I got a lot of responses, most of which said thinking the Buckeyes could go 12-0 was unrealistic, uninformed, unanalyzed and unreasonable – that is, homerism. Well, with two winnable games to go, the Buckeyes are sitting pretty at 10-0.
Who’s the homer now?
Of course I am a Buckeye football fan, and fall is the time for unreasonable expectations. Was it unreasonable to expect a 6-7 squad the previous year to reach 12-0? It is if we remember that same 6-7 squad was 12-1 the year before and won the Sugar Bowl.
What’s the difference? Coaching.
Was it unreasonable to expect that replacing a head coach with no previous head coaching experience (sorry Luke) with one that won two national championships would make a difference? It’s not rocket science.
There was no way to know with certainty the Buckeyes would win their first 10 games. After a couple of shaky starts at the beginning of the year, I’ll admit even I started to have doubts. I’ll be honest: I thought, up until the Miami game, that we might win 10 games last year too. Although in my defense, with better coaching—and who knew how Fickell would turn out—we could have.
Giving up 49 points to Indiana is no way to inspire confidence, but with some changes in scheme, Zach Boren’s insertion at linebacker, along with Nathan Williams, this Buckeye defense is a different unit than the one that started out the season. That team couldn’t have competed with Alabama, or Oregon, or Kansas State.
But the team we’re seeing now is a different animal.
So, realistically, if the Buckeyes win out, what are our chances for an AP title? A lot of media outlets, even “homerish” ones, are saying Ohio State has no chance, but as I see it (as a self-admitted homer), two basic things have to happen to give us a chance:
1. The Buckeyes have to beat Wisconsin and Michigan. Period.
2. Everybody else has to have one loss. Period.
It will help our case if the Buckeyes win both of their final two games convincingly. Wisconsin is coming off cinching a spot in the Big Ten title game by crushing Indiana 62-14. Beating them on the road would look good for the Buckeyes, but what they really need is to crush Michigan at home.
Voters have a short memory, so we need to use that to our advantage. They’ll forget about Cal and Indiana if the last thing they remember is the Buckeyes beating Michigan worse than Alabama or the Irish. Remember, both Alabama and Notre Dame played Michigan. If they Bucks can beat Michigan and make it look easy, they would have a claim to be on the same level as a team like Alabama or Notre Dame (assuming either of those two teams ends up winning out).
The other thing that might also help Ohio State would be if the Big Ten could play well in their bowl games this year. This is probably too much to hope for. If Oregon loses before the bowl games start—which would help OSU on one hand—and then goes to the Rose Bowl and murders someone, we’ll have to listen to all the weak Big Ten arguments.
If somehow Big Ten teams (in particular Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan) could do well in their bowl games this year, it would help silence the weak Big Ten arguments and bolster Ohio State’s strength of schedule. But again, this might be a longshot.
Probably OSU’s biggest obstacle to the AP title right now is Notre Dame. Assuming the three undefeated team right now win out until the title game, an undefeated Notre Dame, if left out of that championship game, would have a real argument to win the AP title.
Let’s not worry about that, because it’s probably not going to happen. So let’s look at the three contenders:
1. Kansas State still has to win against Baylor, play against an improving Texas team, and the win the BCS title game.
2. Oregon still has to play ranked Stanford and Oregon State, win the Pac 12 title game, and win the national title game.
3. Notre Dame still has to beat USC and win their bowl game.
Plenty of chances for everyone ahead of the Bucks to lose. Maybe the best scenario for Urban Meyer’s team is Kansas State and Oregon losing early, while the country watches Alabama beat Notre Dame in an ugly, unconvincing, defense-heavy title game.
Or maybe if Georgia beats Alabama and goes on to beat the Irish, with that ugly loss to South Carolina? With no undefeated teams left and an unbeaten, dominant OSU squad to vote for, who’s your choice?
Who’s the homer now?