Oregon and Auburn will meet in the BCS Championship game this season. Both teams were undefeated and even if Ohio State did the same, they wouldn’t made it. They would have been left out with TCU. Their non-conference schedule is to blame, since they finished the season with a worse SOS than Boise State. What can Ohio State do to help their cause in the future? Can they make the big game with their current schedule in 2011 and 2012?
The Ohio State Buckeyes are perennial contenders to win the BCS Championship, but their lone loss to the Wisconsin Badgers, killed that goal this season. Their non-conference schedule was weak compared to other teams and not playing Michigan State this season, made their strength of schedule mediocre. It was the way the schedule fell and out of Ohio State’s control…for the most part.
When your non-conference schedule consists of Marshall, Miami (FL), Ohio, and Eastern Michigan, you know that you need to dominate your Big Ten schedule if you want to jump up the polls. Miami (FL) was supposed to be their marquee matchup this season, but the Hurricanes had a disappointing season, which turned OSU’s win into an average victory. The BCS is part of the checks & balance that the sport needed to keep the playing field more than just a beauty contest of the usual suspects. When Ohio State lost to Wisconsin, they were the #1 team in the country and the Badgers weren’t looking like the team that finished the season scoring 70 points a game. Even if the Buckeyes beat the Badgers and finished the regular season undefeated, they wouldn’t have made the BCS Championship game. Oregon and Auburn would have had a better computer average and left them left out, just like TCU.
Ohio State’s 2011 schedule is a little harder with their non-conference schedule being home games against Akron, Toledo, and Colorado, and a road game at Miami (FL). Colorado and Miami (FL) will have new coaches, so you don’t know what kind of first season those coaches will have. The addition of Nebraska to their conference schedule will definitely help their strength of schedule, but they don’t face Iowa for the next two seasons.
In 2012, Ohio State’s schedule ramps up, all four non-conference games are at home against Miami (OH), Cincinnati, California, and UAB. They hope that Cincinnati and California will be top 25 teams by then.
The schedule is set in stone for the Buckeyes until 2012 and I’m sure the “powers that be” are already hammering away at the schedule for the next four years after that. They need more marquee non-conference games, but it is hard to predict this far out. Miami (FL) home & home were supposed to be huge games, for both teams, but the Buckeyes picked them during the wrong two seasons. You don’t want to schedule all top 25 teams or you will end up with a schedule like Notre Dame did for years and face all contenders with Navy thrown in. Ohio State do need a tune-up game or two in their schedule. The Big Ten schedule is grueling and playing contenders on top of it, could lead to the team tailing off at the end of the season.
The addition of the Big Ten Championship game will help every team try to get into a better bowl game. If Ohio State were undefeated and had a chance to play Wisconsin again or Michigan State at the end of the year, maybe they had a shot at leapfrogging Oregon this year.
The answer for what Ohio State needs is luck. You can only worry about your own team and schedule the best you can. You just cross your fingers that the other teams will take care of their business and when you play them, you come out with a win.