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Why is this news?: Ohio State is still the best team in the country

Plus, how men’s wrestling is following up its national championship season, and soccer advances to the Big Ten semis.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

"Best thing about 9-0? A chance to go 10-0 with a bunch of good people. Can’t wait to go back to work tomorrow."

-Urban Meyer, via Bill Bender, SportingNews

Despite dropping to the No. 2 spot nationally in this week’s AP Poll, just a week after opening in the College Football Playoff rankings at No. 3, the Ohio State Buckeyes could still be the best team in the country--until proven otherwise. Head coach Urban Meyer has led the team to a 47-3 record under his tenure, with a record 29-game conference win streak and 22-straight wins overall. His first 50 games are the best start for any coach in the AP Poll era.

Ohio State has certainly not looked like the best team in the country for much of the season. With a slow start against Minnesota, uncertainty at quarterback and an offense that can’t quite seem to get in sync, there are a lot of questions surrounding the Buckeyes as they prepare for their final three games of the regular season. And yet, two parts of their game -- their running game, and their ability to stop the run -- have carried the Buckeyes through to 9-0. Ezekiel Elliott’s 100-yard game streak now sits at 14 games after Saturday. The rush defense has also been outstanding, holding Minnesota to 33 yards on 26 carries.

Following a tumultuous Week 10 of college football, only five undefeated teams remain in Power 5 conferences, including Ohio State. Among the mighty who fell Saturday are Michigan State, LSU and TCU, all of whom were ranked in the top-ten heading into the weekend. Michigan State lost in heartbreaking fashion to a mediocre Nebraska squad in the final minute of the game on a controversial touchdown play. LSU fell by two scores to Alabama. And TCU -- not to be outdone --lost by three scores to a better-than-expected Oklahoma State.

The remaining undefeateds include No. 1 Clemson, who defeated Florida State Saturday; Baylor, who is down a starting quarterback; Oklahoma State and Iowa. Still, these teams don’t necessarily look better than the Buckeyes. Clemson did defeat Florida State Saturday, but Baylor is down their starting quarterback, and Oklahoma State still has the toughest part of its schedule ahead of it. Iowa, who opened at No. 9 in the College Football Playoff rankings, would have to go through Indianapolis and the Big Ten Championship Game to stay undefeated.

"A strong start to the season. I think our overall depth was what stood out. The environment in the room right now is exactly what a man needs to really grow and learn. We must continue to learn and grow as we gear up for more challenging competition."

-Ohio State wrestling coach Tom Ryan

It seemed unlikely that Ohio State wrestling would be able to pick up right where it left off following a national title-winning season. Ohio State opened the season ranked No. 5 nationally, coming of the team’s first-ever national championship in the sport. However, the Buckeyes lost four-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber to graduation, and outstanding freshman Kyle Snyder opted for a redshirt to train for the Olympics. Still, the team started their 2015 -16 run strong at the Eastern Michigan Open over the weekend.

In all, seven Buckeyes were champions in their divisions. The three Buckeyes who were runners-up had lost to teammates in the finals of their respective divisions. Four of the champions were either redshirt freshmen or true freshmen, which gives a bright outlook on how Ohio State wrestling could fare in future years. The team also logged a third and fifth place finish in the tournament.

Seniors Johnni DiJulius and Mark Martin led the list of winners in the 133-pound. and 184-pound classes respectively. Redshirt freshmen Micah Jordan (141 lbs.), Cody Burcher (149 lbs.) and Jake Ryan (157 lbs.) also won their divisions, along with true freshman Myles Martin (174 lbs.). The final champion for Ohio State was junior Nick Tavanello, who won at the 285-pound class.

In a conference with historical wrestling powerhouses, including Iowa and Penn State, Ohio State has still managed to make a name for itself behind head coach Tom Ryan, who has been at Ohio State since 2006. This year will be no less difficult, with Penn State (2), Michigan (3) and Iowa (4) in the top five of NCAA rankings. In all, nine teams from the Big Ten are ranked in the top 25 nationally.

Ohio State is scheduled to open its dual match schedule against Virginia Friday.

After earning the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament as regular-season champions, the Ohio State men’s soccer team defeated ninth-seeded Penn State in a tense 1-0 victory in overtime. Senior midfielder Kyle Culberston scored the game’s only goal in the 93rd minute to help the Buckeyes advance to the semifinals of the tournament. The game-winning goal was Culbertson’s third on the season. With the win, the team gained a program-record ninth home win on the season as they improved to 12-5-2 overall on the season, and 5-2-1 in conference.

The two teams’ regular season match in September had ended in a 1-1 tie in double overtime in Columbus, and was the Buckeyes’ last game before beginning their eight-game win streak. Penn State had won its first game in the tournament Saturday, when they defeated the No. 8 seed Michigan State 2-1 in overtime  in a play-in game.

Overall shots were 22-10 in favor of Ohio State, and senior goalkeeper Chris Froschauer had four saves on the night, leading to the team’s ninth shutout of the year. Froschauer, who had been named Goalkeeper of the Year by the Big Ten last week, was supported by senior defender Liam Doyle, who was also honored by the conference as Defensive Player of the Year.

Ohio State will face off against Rutgers Friday in Columbus in the semis. The Buckeyes had previously fallen to Rutgers in a rare conference loss in October in New Jersey, with Rutgers snapping the eight-game winning streak Ohio State had been riding through the middle of the season. On the other side of the bracket, three-seed Maryland defeated Michigan, the six-seed, while two-seed Indiana beat seventh-seeded Wisconsin. Maryland and Indiana are set for their semi-final match Friday in Bloomington.

The Buckeyes lost to Indiana in the semifinals of last year’s conference tournament, having finished the regular season second in conference standings. Ohio State went on to make the NCAA tournament before losing to one-seed Notre Dame in the second round.