Coming down the stretch, No. 6 Ohio State’s biggest goal — going 12-0 — is still very much within reach.
Some of the Buckeyes don’t want to talk about it for fear of jinxing it. Others freely acknowledge that there’d be nothing better than running the table and showing up all of the naysayers after last year’s losing season and a year of NCAA violations, suspensions, sanctions and humiliation.
Even coach Urban Meyer — who jokingly chided a reporter for mentioning that Ohio State’s center hasn’t made a bad snap all year — mentions 12-0 to his team.
“We know how big it is and it’s rare that you see a team go undefeated,” wide receiver Corey Brown said. “We know that, because [Meyer] talks about it all the time, obviously. This group is hungry enough and everybody wants to do it because we’re all in, all the time.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll do it.”
The Buckeyes are banned from going to a bowl game, so it’s a longshot that they could impress enough Associated Press media voters to climb all the way to No. 1 without playing after the regular-season finale on Nov. 24 against No. 23 Michigan.
But 12-0? All that requires is coming off a bye week and winning at Wisconsin on Saturday before knocking off the rival Wolverines a week later.
“We need to be 12-0,” fullback-turned-linebacker Zach Boren said. “It’s one game at a time. We’re not thinking about injuries, polls [or the fact that] we have nothing after the Team Up North game. We’ve got the two biggest games of the season coming up.”
Meyer was asked on Monday if, knowing that his team can’t play in a bowl, he has to fight the urge to think the Buckeyes might miss out on all the national championship talk because there will be no postseason games.
“You know, I could lie to you and say that I don’t. Every once in a while [I think about it], but not as much as I thought,” he said. “I’ll hear it and read it once in a while, and I have good friends in the profession that will make a comment, and I’ll think about it for a second. But then I go back to knowing exactly who we were, and you go back to how we’ve won and who we are right now. We’re pretty fortunate where we are. Let’s find a way to get [win] No. 11.”
Ohio State trumpets that it has won seven national championships — yet has only gone unbeaten five times in 122 previous seasons of football. The only perfect seasons have come in 1916, 1944, 1954, 1968 and 2002.
Defensive end John Simon urges caution on all the 12-0 talk.
“We’re just not getting ahead of ourselves. We know every day is going to count if we want to achieve our goals,” said Simon, a Cardinal Mooney High graduate. “There’s definitely light at the end of the tunnel. You can see it. But these are going to be two of our toughest games of the year.”