Some outside help was always likely to be necessary.
Now Ohio State knows it for sure, and also exactly where the assistance will have to come from.
The top priority for the Buckeyes remains unchanged after the unveiling of the first BCS standings on Sunday night, since it was clear before the season even started that posting another perfect record was going to be the minimum requirement given the soft perception of their schedule. But even if they keep handling their business like they did in a 34-24 win over Iowa, it’s a safe bet they’ll need at least two teams ahead of them to lose a game after checking in at No. 4 behind top-ranked Alabama, Florida State and Oregon in the chase for a crystal football.
“I’d be lying to you if I told you that we don’t pay attention to it all,” Ohio State tight end Jeff Heuerman said after the victory on Saturday. “We obviously look at it, but we don’t make the schedule, we don’t control the people who do that, so all we can do is go out and keep winning.
“We’ve done that for 19 straight games, and if we just keep doing that, everything will take care of itself in the end.”
There’s still plenty to be sorted out with five games left in the regular season and a potential appearance in the Big Ten championship looming after that. But considering the relative lack of conference company in the BCS standings and with much of their heavy lifting already behind them, the Buckeyes are already running low on chances to impress the voters and computers and will need to do more than just handle their own business.
Michigan and Nebraska are the only other teams in the league ranked in the initial top 25, but both are well behind Ohio State and a long way from the national title picture after already dropping a game each. The No. 22 Wolverines are obviously on the schedule for the Buckeyes at the end of the regular season, and they could conceivably play the No. 24 Huskers a week later for the conference crown.
But as it stands now, Ohio State is effectively carrying the flag for the Big Ten. And if it’s going to be waved in the national title game, the Buckeyes can now see exactly who is in the way.