Title run? Ohio State climbing in polls again

Published 12:26 pm Monday, October 20, 2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — What’s brewing today with the 2008 Ohio State Buckeyes …

BUCKEYES BUZZ: So the big question is, when an unbiased, national poll voter looks at Ohio State, what do they think of the 2008 Buckeyes?

You’ll note, Periscope said ‘‘2008’’ Buckeyes. Everyone has a pretty good idea what they thought of those eggs the 2006 and 2007 teams laid in the national championship games.

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This year, however, the lasting impression is that the Buckeyes got smeared in their one big game. In their seven victories, at least according to independent experts, they haven’t beaten anybody.

That’s a product of Big Ten approval ratings that have followed the same arc as the stock market.

It’s also a sign of how some of the Buckeyes’ earlier ‘‘big’’ wins have turned out.

For instance, when Ohio State edged Wisconsin (which was ranked in the top 10 a week earlier) on that late TD drive to win 20-17, it looked like a statement win. Then Penn State creamed the Badgers the next week and Iowa did likewise on Saturday. Make that a considerably smaller statement.

The victory over Minnesota a month ago was the only loss for the Golden Gophers. But since they only won one game a year ago, nobody outside the conference thinks much of them.

In the polls, it’s almost like the high school football computer ratings in Ohio. Teams get points not only for winning games, but also for victories by the teams they beat. It puts more emphasis on who you beat rather than win totals.

Time will tell if the lopsided win over Michigan State proves to be a ‘‘big win’’ for the Buckeyes. Judging from how poorly the Spartans played, it may take another few weeks to find out if their bubble has already burst as it so often does late in the season. And they take the Buckeyes down with them.

Besides, the Buckeyes don’t have time to even think about that big win with No. 3 Penn State coming to town on Saturday (8 p.m. start).

FIRST BCS RANKINGS: In the initial Bowl Championship Series rankings of the season, released late Sunday afternoon, Ohio State was ninth, behind Texas, Alabama, Penn State, Oklahoma, USC, Oklahoma State, Georgia and Texas Tech. Florida is behind the Buckeyes, rounding out the top 10.

The Buckeyes are No. 5 in the computers, but 10th in each of the two human polls, Harris Interactive and USA Today.

Of course, the early BCS rankings mean nothing other than to give a snapshot of what the prevailing opinion is by the experts at this point in time. Along the same lines …

POLLING PLACE: In the weekly Associated Press Top 25 media poll, the Buckeyes climbed two spots to 10th. It’s their first appearance in the top 10 since they lost 35-3 at then-No. 1 USC when they were No. 5.

Here are the teams ahead of them, in order: Texas, Alabama, Penn State, Oklahoma, Florida, USC, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Georgia. Right behind them are: LSU, Utah, Boise State, South Florida and TCU.

THREE QUESTIONS:How could a Michigan team that lost at home to Toledo possibly hang around for most of first three quarters at No. 3 Penn State? Did that prove that Michigan might still be a test for the Buckeyes? Will Penn State’s poor performance early against Michigan serve as a wake-up call for their next challenge at Ohio Stadium?

GREAT PROGRAMMING:At 4:30 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, the Big Ten Network was showing Michigan vs. Michigan State — in soccer.