The results of this week's college football rankings are out, and the Buckeyes find themselves moving into the #14 spot on the AP Top 25 list. That's not bad for a team with a new coach, a new program and is prohibited from any post-season play after this season. What's even more interesting is that the Buckeyes also find themselves as the highest nationally ranked Big Ten team.
To say that Ohio State being in this leadership role over the other teams in the Big Ten in unexpected is a bit of an understatement. Everyone knows the Buckeyes' situation this year. Everyone believes that it's going to be a rebuilding year for Ohio State, and that Urban Meyer will most likely use this "free year" (where there's no pressure for post-season play) to firmly ingrain his style, methods and players into the Ohio State program. So, even though the Urban Meyer Era has been anxiously awaited by even the most casual Buckeye fan, any expectations of good results have been put off until next year. To find Ohio State ranked #14 under those circumstances is just icing on the cake.
But what has happened to the rest of the Big Ten?
The pre-season AP polls seemed fairly favorable for the Big Ten. Michigan topped the Big Ten teams with a #8 ranking. Wisconsin was the next Big Ten team on the poll at #12, followed by Michigan State at #13. Nebraska came in at #17 with Ohio State right behind at #18 and the lowest ranked Big Ten team in the top 25 poll. The Big Ten schools who were ranked in the top 25 were no surprise. What was a surprise, however, was the rapid fall from grace that these schools took. With the exception of Ohio State, all of the schools ranked in the pre-season top 25 lost early.
Michigan's first game loss came as no surprise, since they lost to Alabama, the defending national champions. However, the margin of loss WAS a surprise. Michigan was expected to put together a much better performance than their 41-14 effort. The Wolverines struggled in their second game, barely defeating Air Force, and while they blew past UMass, their abysmal performance in a 13-6 loss to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame dropped them out of the top 25 as they enter Big Ten Play.
Wisconsin has struggled in their first four games, losing a 10-7 decision to Oregon State, and trying to find their footing in three games against – what should have been – considerably inferior competition. Their inability to impress the world has dropped them out of the top 25 altogether.
Michigan State's drop to 20 is mostly due to their inability to play well against better teams. While they blew out both Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan, they had a difficult time with the tougher schools on their schedule. They defeated Boise State by just 4 points, and they only managed to score 3 points in a 20-3 loss to Notre Dame.
Even though they've had big wins against Southern Miss, Arkansas St. and Idaho St., Nebraska's 36-30 loss to UCLA has them bottoming out the Big Ten's entries into the top 25 with a #22 ranking. An interesting ranking since they're showing a strong presence in all of their games, including the loss.
In the actual Big Ten rankings there are two other undefeated teams beside Ohio State – Northwestern and Minnesota. That in itself is a rather odd and pretty amazing statistic. Yet neither of the other two teams are ranked in the top 25.
So it's clear, now, that those who vote in the AP poll believe that the Big Ten is simply not a strong football conference this year. For Ohio State to be leading the Big Ten pack is fairly remarkable. Sure, they haven't lost any games, but lets face it, have they really shown the characteristics of a team that should be so highly ranked? Are they really that much better than Nebraska? The offense is doing well at times, but is very inconsistent. The defense is suspect in any of their games, and this past week UAB showed just how vulnerable Ohio State will be to a good team.
This coming weekend will be the real tell for the Big Ten. Nebraska and Wisconsin play each other. Michigan goes to Purdue. Northwestern will be hosting Indiana. Minnesota travels to Iowa. Penn State (also not eligible for post-season play) travels to Illinois. And Ohio State will be making their first trip away from the horseshoe this season, traveling to Lansing to take on the Spartans of Michigan State. It's likely that this weekend there will be 2 or 3 teams who emerge as the clear leaders in the Big Ten. Will Ohio State be one of them? Can they pull it all together well enough to handle a very tough Spartan team? We'll see.
In the meantime, Buckeye fans can enjoy the momentary, and quite unexpected, view from atop the Big Ten.
Related VideosReturning Soon!!!!
No related posts.