COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State did what it could to help itself.
It didn’t change the fact that the Buckeyes need some assistance from others if they're going to earn a spot in the national title game.
The Buckeyes did not move in the latest BCS standings when they were released Sunday night even though the team put together its most complete outing of the season, throttling Penn State in a 63-14 win at the Horseshoe that seemingly offered a reminder it shouldn’t be overlooked in the championship picture. And while the rout certainly captured some attention, without losses from top-ranked Alabama, Oregon or Florida State, the No. 4 Buckeyes aren’t likely to climb much higher on their own even if they’re able to keep boosting their reputation in the eyes of the pollsters and computers.
“I think we did that,” cornerback Bradley Roby said after the game. “We wanted to gain respect, and I think we did that a good job of that.
“That was definitely a statement win.”
Even with that message, the Buckeyes didn't make a more convincing case that they deserve to play for the crystal football than the teams ahead of them for the second consecutive week. But they did make up some ground on the third-ranked team, as Florida State dropped down a spot and currently leads the Buckeyes by just .0381 in the composite formula.
A week ago that margin was .0767 as Ohio State trailed then-No. 3 Oregon, so the blowout win over the Nittany Lions did have some impact. But part of the problem continues to be the perceived weakness of the Big Ten, and the latest rankings still didn’t do Ohio State many favors, as it remained the only program in the league in the top 20 heading into the final month of the season.
The conference is well represented from 21-25, with three teams checking in just outside that mark in No. 21 Michigan, No. 22 Michigan State and No. 24 Wisconsin. But with the Wolverines and Spartans set to square off on Saturday, one of those teams isn’t likely to stick around for much longer, and the loser will face long odds to ever get back in the mix for a BCS bid of any kind.
The Buckeyes are still chasing the biggest prize, and they’re marginally closer than they were a week ago. But their actual ranking hasn’t changed, and the need for outside help hasn’t, either.