Ohio State football: Mapping out OSU's murky path to a national title

Jonathan Daniel

OSU is decidedly not in control of their own destiny. So who is?

Despite beating a 16th-ranked Northwestern in Evanston, all Ohio State fans can do is mark their calendars for the second half of college football season. The Buckeyes are decidedly not in control of their own destiny, and I guess that's what happens when your schedule is filled with Little Sisters of the Poor. As such, prepare to become a huge UCLA fan, root against Marcus Mariota with a burning passion, and (gulp) emotionally invest in Tommy Rees.

Oregon at Washington - 10/12

If you've watched even a second of Oregon play this year, you know that it's pretty much a pipe dream to think they could lose this game. The Ducks should open as a 10.5-12.5-point favorite, and the line will probably clear 14 points by kickoff. Nevertheless, after the Huskies' impressive performance at Stanford, a Washington win isn't completelyinconceivable, and it would obviously considerably amplify Ohio State's national championship prospects. Here's hoping for a devastating Sarknado on Saturday.

Florida State at Clemson - 10/19

According to BCS Guru's current projections, Ohio State would be fifth in the BCS right now, one spot ahead of Florida State. However, their lead over FSU is slim (.7804 to .7704), and the Seminoles would almost certainly leapfrog the Buckeyes if they went into Death Valley and knocked off third-ranked Clemson. This creates an interesting dilemma for Buckeye fans wondering who to root for here. Of course, you should side with the team that's more likely to lose at a later date, but even that's unclear. Basically, it comes down to each squad's rivalry games - is Clemson more likely to lose at South Carolina, or is FSU more likely to lose at Florida? Probably the former, but I don't feel good either of them.

UCLA at Stanford - 10/19

While a sizable portion of my Twitter timeline seems bullish about UCLA's chances in Palo Alto, I'm not optimistic. Stanford held Keith Price to -4 yards rushing, so Brett Hundley shouldn't make much of an impact on the ground, and none of the Bruins' victories have been particularly impressive. Remember, the key to avoiding disappointment is to keep your expectations low.

UCLA at Oregon - 10/26

Ditto.

Oregon at Stanford - 11/7

If UCLA manages to upset Stanford or Oregon, you're rooting interest obviously lies with that team. The semi-realistic dream scenario for Buckeye fans involves UCLA defeating Stanford and Stanford defeating Oregon, because we know they're capable of beating the Ducks in Eugene, so why shouldn't they be able to do so at home? Well, Marcus Mariota is markedly better than he was last year, but still.

For the sake of argument, let's say the above scenario happens and both Oregon and Stanford come out of this game with one loss. In that case, an undefeated Ohio State would be third in the BCS and desperately, desperately hoping for a Florida State/Clemson.

LSU at Alabama - 11/9

Unfortunately, LSU surrendered 44 points to Georgia, so what's to stop Bama from posting 50 here? Nothing, probably, unless Barkevious Mingo covertly suits up for the Tigers in Jordan Allen's uniform. On the bright side, Mick Jagger is a GREAT entertainer.

Notre Dame at Stanford - 11/30

You know what they say: If your national title hopes rest on Tommy Rees' shoulders, [REDACTED - EXPLICIT CONTENT].

Georgia vs. Alabama (probably) - 12/7

If this is Ohio State's last chance to land a spot in the title game, they'll have a fighting one. A rematch with Bama will be an opportunity for Aaron Murray to leave a legacy other than being the SEC's all-time passing yards leader, which is a pretty dubious honor anyway. Some folks have suggested that a Georgia win would vault the one-loss Bulldogs ahead of an undefeated Ohio State, but that's not happening.

There you have it. By my calculations, the Buckeyes have a 26.2% chance of advancing to the BCS title game, and that's assuming they can beat Michigan in back-to-back weeks. It's a shame the College Football Playoff isn't starting this year, because you know damn well that Condi Rice would give us preferential treatment.

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