There was a time in Ohio State history when a perfect season and a Big Ten championship would have been more than enough to garner the inside track to a national title. Former Buckeyes coaches Woody Hayes and Jim Tressel combined for three such unbeaten and untied campaigns (1954, 1968 and 2002) during their respective tenures in Columbus, and in each case, it led to a recognized national title at season's end.
This has not been the case for Urban Meyer. His 2012 club finished 12-0 but was ineligible for the BCS National Championship because of NCAA penalties, and finished third in the AP poll. Meyer's 2013 team is 10-0 but on Sunday dropped from third to fourth in the AP poll (trading positions with Baylor), a move that mirrored the BCS standings gap between the Buckeyes and Bears dropping to an extraordinarily thin margin that could disappear in Week 13.
This decline might be causing the Buckeyes to be overlooked as a BCS title contender, but doing so would be a mistake.
For starters, we might not have seen the last upset of a top national title contender this season. In particular, Alabama and Baylor will face some tough challenges in the next few weeks.
But more importantly, while Ohio State's lack of schedule strength could ultimately cost it a shot at a BCS title, the Buckeyes have put together a championship-caliber season in nearly every phase of the game. I'm not advocating putting them ahead of Alabama or Florida State, as those teams are more deserving based on whom they've beaten, but the Buckeyes are a worthy title participant, should they get the opportunity. Here's why.