After 11-1 regular season, Buckeyes begin wait
It figures in this Bowl Championship Series era that No. 6 Ohio State won't know exactly what it's accomplished this season until the dust clears.
The Buckeyes captured a share of a record-tying sixth straight Big Ten title, battered archrival Michigan to extend a record seven-game winning streak in the series and most likely also captured a berth in a BCS bowl game.
''(We were) not good enough to be the outright Big Ten champions and (get the) automatic bid to the Rose Bowl and all those things that you shoot for,'' coach Jim Tressel said after the 37-7 rout of the Wolverines. ''But we're pretty fair. And I believe we're a top-10 football team and we're probably going to get to play a top-10 football team.''
The victory over Michigan on Saturday left the Buckeyes in a dead heat atop the Big Ten standings with Michigan State and Wisconsin, all at 11-1 overall and 7-1 in the conference.
In the case of a tie for the championship involving three or more teams, after other tiebreakers are considered and discarded because they don't apply, the final BCS rankings determine which team draws the conference's automatic spot in the Rose Bowl.
Those final BCS rankings don't come out until next Sunday, after several conference championship games are played. Based on the latest rankings, Wisconsin - which beat the Buckeyes 31-18 head-to-head - would be smelling roses.
But again, until the final rankings come out, nothing in the crazy BCS is truly final.
If they do not pass Wisconsin in the BCS, the Buckeyes would most likely draw a spot in the Sugar bowl against Arkansas, or maybe the Orange against Virginia Tech. All of that, of course, could change over the next week.
Ohio State President Gordon Gee recently contended that Big Ten and SEC teams' schedules are like ''murderer's row'' and they don't play any ''Little Sisters of the Poor'' teams. He was taking a shot at non-automatic qualifying teams like TCU and Boise State, which he said don't deserve to play in the BCS title game because they don't play anybody.
Critics will point out that the Buckeyes aren't exactly loading up on powerhouse opponents.
Their strength-of-schedule ratings put them at or perhaps a little bit below teams such as TCU and Boise State. On top of that, Ohio State beat only one team all season that had fewer than five losses - and that opponent was Ohio (8-4) of the Mid-American Conference.
Still, there's no dispute whatsoever that Ohio State has had a fine season. It won a piece of a BCS conference title, is among only a handful of teams with one or fewer losses and made some history by adding to its string of Big Ten titles and wins over Michigan.
''It's unbelievable how blessed I am to play with these guys,'' said defensive end Cameron Heyward, a senior who returned despite being projected as a high NFL draft pick. ''I'm surrounded by my friends and I'll always cherish the memories.
''Where we go next doesn't matter to me. Wherever we go, we'll go and play our hardest.''
Junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor also touched on what he learned and how close he was to his teammates: ''I think I grew up as a person,'' he said. ''I'm more of a patient person. And it was great to get victories with these guys.''
Tressel said the season was an unqualified success.
''Sometimes the ball bounces funny and you end up undefeated or you end up losing,'' he said. ''Our guys just kept working and whatever came their way, they handled it and pressed on. They need a little break and they need to take a deep breath and then they need to think about playing against one of the top teams in the nation wherever we play, whoever it is.''