Two weeks ago, we checked in on the state of college football in the state of Ohio.
It was good then, and it still is now. Three of the 12 remaining unbeaten Div. I-FBS college football teams play in Ohio, and all three have the right combination of talent and schedule ahead to continue their respective streaks.
It’s going to be a wild finish. Ohio State has a realistic path to staying unbeaten in a down Big Ten, the big games are just beginning for Cincinnati and Ohio has cracked the national rankings for the first time in 44 years.
Ohio and Ohio State are the only 7-0 teams in the nation. Eight teams are at 6-0 to this point.
Below is an updated look at what’s ahead for all three Ohio teams as they chase perfection — and just keep trying to stack victories along the way.
Ohio State Buckeyes
CURRENT RECORD: 7-0, 3-0 in Big Ten play.
CURRENT RESUME: Because the Buckeyes are barred from postseason play, their resume means little. Seven games into the Urban Meyer Era, they’re perfectly imperfect, finding ways to win and are continuing to build momentum. None of the non-conference wins stand out, and the Michigan State win doesn’t look as good as it probably should. The Buckeyes are now chasing 12-0 and a Big Ten division championship, and they have a real shot at both. The Buckeyes are ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll and are ineligible to ranked in the Coaches Poll or the BCS computer standings.
THE ROAD AHEAD: The Buckeyes play two more at home, vs. struggling Purdue and Illinois, and at Penn State before their bye weekend on the second week of November. The Buckeyes will be favored in all three, and what happens there and otherwise throughout the league will determine just how big the games will be in the closing stretch, when the Buckeyes visit Wisconsin and host Michigan. A Penn State win this weekend at Iowa would make that game in State College on Oct. 27 a very interesting one.
BOWL GAME CEILING: That and tackling problems is all Buckeye fans have to be angry about these days. It sure looks now that athletic director Gene Smith made a major gaffe in not self-imposing a bowl ban on the Buckeyes last year at this time. This year’s team being bowl banned is disappointing but will be quickly forgotten as Meyer pushes this program forward.
OUTLOOK: At this point, anything short of 11 or 12 wins would be a disappointment. Quarterback Braxton Miller has a chance to be a Heisman finalist, the offensive line is on the improve and the defense is struggling with fundamentals but has the talent — and until the Buckeyes actually lose a game, it’s doing enough. Miller and the running game are rolling up big numbers, most of the injuries have been of the minor variety and Meyer’s staff has the arrow pointing in the right direction. Anybody else up for the biggest Ohio State-Michigan game since 2006?
CURRENT RECORD: 5-0, 1-0 in the Big East.
CURRENT RESUME: Given the overall youth and inexperience on the roster, the Bearcats might qualify as a surprise team at this point. Or, they might qualify as one that’s still getting better and will need to as the schedule gets tougher. There’s only been one marquee win so far — over Virginia Tech at a “neutral” site in Virginia Tech country — but chances at others are coming. The Bearcats, 21st this week in the AP Poll and 18th in the Coaches Poll, are one of three unbeaten and ranked Big East teams at this point. If they win the league title and a BCS berth, they’ll have earned it.
THE ROAD AHEAD: The Bearcats have a dangerous in-state trip this weekend to Toledo, which is 6-1 and has built a roster that would win in a lot of BCS conferences. That game comes six days before a nationally-televised potential battle of unbeatens with Louisville. Rutgers, the Big East’s other currently unbeaten team, comes to Cincinnati on Nov. 17.
BOWL GAME CEILING: Probably the Orange Bowl, usually home to the Big East champion. Few of the current Bearcats were around for those back-to-back BCS appearances in 2008-09, and this team seems to be in position to chase another and write its own story. There’s a lot of work to do, and with two road games in the next 11 nights we’ll get a real evaluation of Munchie Legaux’s growth and this team’s readiness for the big stage.
OUTLOOK: A peculiar early season schedule means the Bearcats will be very busy from now through Dec. 1 and will have to stay healthy, but it’s fair to believe this team has a pretty high ceiling and a real chance to win the Big East title, even if they don’t sweep the next two games. Winning them all and flirting with the big BCS game probably isn’t going to happen; winning 10 or 11 and playing in a name-brand bowl game is a very real possibility.
Ohio University Bobcats
CURRENT RECORD: 7-0, 3-0 in the MAC.
CURRENT RESUME: Cracking the AP’s top 25 this week means someone’s watching and noticing. That’s really all that it means, and the Bobcats need the wins to keep coming as they chase the school’s first MAC title since 1968 and whatever attention and bigger goals that would come with it. In evaluating the body of work, the Penn State win is much better than it looked four weeks ago, and the Marshall win will look better four weeks from now than it does today.
THE ROAD AHEAD: A much-needed weekend off is immediately ahead, then comes a rivalry game at struggling Miami-Ohio. Then the schedule gets all kind of MAC-crazy with midweek games and some tough ones. The Nov. 7 game at Bowling Green could be for first place in the MAC East, the Nov. 14 game at Ball State is another potential stumbling block, and the regular-season finale at Kent State on the day after Thanksgiving could be for lots of marbles. The Bobcat bandwagon is jam-packed; buckle up, everyone.
BOWL GAME CEILING: The BCS remains a possibility — no better than a slight possibility, currently — if the Bobcats would run the table and finish in the top 16 of the BCS standings. This hasn’t changed from our last update and won’t be decided until early December. Realistically, an 11-13 win Ohio team that doesn’t go to the BCS could play an SEC team in the BBVA Compass Bowl or a Big Ten team in the Ticket City Bowl if things fall the right way.
OUTLOOK: The Bobcats are a mature group and will handle all the newfound attention the best they can. Of greater concern to coach Frank Solich is the rash of injuries that has cost the team some of its most experienced players in recent weeks. Having this weekend off will help with general bumps and bruises, and dynamic quarterback Tyler Tettleton should come back close to 100 percent. Ohio will have to win some shootouts in November, but the Bobcats are built to keep the wins coming.
Follow Zac Jackson on Twitter as he follows the Buckeyes, Bearcats and Bobcats at @FSOhioZJackson