Thomas Bradley / Campus editor
Well, it happened.
Squeezed in between the massive win against Wisconsin on Halloween weekend and impending matchups with Penn State and Michigan, were a pair of games with our border rivals.
When Indiana visited the ‘Shoe Nov. 5, the Buckeyes got past their first potential letdown hurdle in a slightly sloppy 34-20 win.
Nov. 12 in West Lafayette, Ind., though, the Buckeyes had the stumble they could hardly afford. Purdue 26, Ohio State 23 in overtime.
And now, heading into Saturday’s matchup against Penn State, the Buckeyes’ dreams of a miracle run to the Big Ten Championship game and potentially the Rose Bowl have taken a severe hit.
The Buckeyes are not dead, but they are certainly in dire trouble.
For the dream to happen, they need to not only win-out, but they also need help. And a lot of it.
To break it down, the Buckeyes stand in fourth place in the Leaders Division at 3-3 in conference play. They trail Penn State (5-1), Wisconsin (4-2), and Purdue (3-3). While tied with Purdue in record, the Boilermakers hold the tiebreaker against the Buckeyes with their win this past weekend.
So for the Buckeyes to somehow sneak into Indianapolis, a lot needs to happen.
We’ll start with first place Penn State. The Nittany Lions, even with their season knocked into disarray by the child sexual abuse scandal and firing of Joe Paterno, still hold the keys to their fate in the Big Ten race.
Remaining schedule: Saturday at Ohio State, Nov. 26 at Wisconsin.
For the Buckeyes to have any chance, the Nittany Lions must lose both of their last two games, which would leave them at 5-3 in conference play.
Next, second place Wisconsin. The Badgers, who were considered a national title contender for the first half of the year, had their season derailed in back-to-back heartbreaking losses to Michigan State and Ohio State.
Remaining schedule: Saturday at Illinois, Nov. 26 versus Penn State.
With the Badgers at 4-2, the only way the Buckeyes can get in is if the Badgers are upset by Illinois this weekend in Champaign, and then finish their season off with a home win against Penn State, which would also leave them at 5-3.
Finally, third place Purdue. The Boilermakers, fresh-off their big win against the Buckeyes, are an extreme long-shot to make it to Indianapolis as they hold neither tiebreaker with Penn State nor Wisconsin who are ahead of them in the standings, but could get in through tiebreaker rules should there be a 4-way tie at the top.
Remaining schedule: Saturday vs. Iowa, Nov. 26 at Indiana.
Pretty simple here; Boilermakers lose either of their last two games and they will be completely eliminated.
So simply put, the Buckeyes need these three things to happen.
First, win their final two games. Second, Wisconsin needs to first lose this weekend at Illinois and then beat Penn State at home the following week. Third, Purdue loses one of their last two games.
This scenario would leave Wisconsin, Penn State, and the Buckeyes all at 5-3 in the conference, with the Buckeyes holding the tiebreaker, having defeated both of them.
It’s obviously a long shot, but the Buckeyes still have a heartbeat.
Don’t hold your breath, though, Buckeye fans.