With just two games remaining on their schedule, it seems clear what the Buckeyes must do to make their record-ninth BCS Bowl game appearance.
In the words of Oakland Raiders owner / NFL relic Al Davis, "Just win baby!"
Yes, it sounds very oversimplified—considering that most of us really don't (nor do we necessarily want to) understand the complexity of the formula(s) that the BCS uses when plugging random numbers into their silly little computers, but for Ohio State, it really is that simple—win, and their in.
At this point, a Rose Bowl berth is a bit of a long shot unless Michigan or Northwestern—Wisconsin's final two opponents—have some upset-aiding tricks up their sleeves these next two weeks.
For the Buckeyes to play in the 2011 Rose Bowl, they must win out and count on either Michigan or Northwestern to upset the Badgers.
Michigan has no defense, but they are actually decent on offense and can score, so they might have a chance if they can beat Captain Run-Up-the-Score, Brett Bielema, to 80.
As for Northwestern, they almost always seems to play big in big conference games in the role of spoiler, so they have a chance too—just ask Iowa.
If neither of those teams upset Wisconsin, the Buckeyes still control their own BCS destiny by beating Iowa and Michigan in their last two games.
Somewhere hidden deep within the BCS formulation, there is a strength of schedule component that should favor the Buckeyes over Michigan State.
With the win over Penn State (while MSU was idle) and assuming the Buckeyes beat Iowa and Michigan, there's practically zero chance the Spartans will jump in front of the Buckeyes in the BCS standings with just Purdue and Penn State remaining on their schedule.
It looks as though Wisconsin and Ohio State will both finish higher than Michigan State in the BCS rankings if all three teams win their final games.
That means the Badgers would get the automatic bid for the Rose, and the Buckeyes would receive an at-large invite to the Sugar Bowl (SEC vs. highest ranked non-auto bid team) or the Orange Bowl (ACC vs. at-large), while the Spartans would play in the Capital One Bowl.
The Sugar Bowl would be the best BCS Bowl destination for Ohio State if they don't play in Pasadena.
Seeing the Buckeyes face an SEC opponent (Alabama or LSU specifically) would make for great TV ratings since everyone knows that OSU is 0-9 vs. SEC opponents in Bowl games all-time. Hopefully, they would finally get that monkey off their backs.
Buckeye fans would travel well as they always do even if Ohio State were to accept an invite to the Orange Bowl to face the ACC champ. A win in this game however would do nothing to boost respect for Ohio State so let's just hope thy go elsewhere.
It would be nice if the Fiesta Bowl could land Ohio State vs. TCU, Boise State, or Nebraska, but they are handcuffed to the Big 12 and Big East champs.
The Arizona desert is like a second home to Buckeye fans, and it could make for great drama to finally see a non-AQ team prove it's worth, or crumble, against one of college football's all-time elite programs instead of playing each other.
Ohio State-Nebraska could also be a great game as well, and a nice prequel to what's coming starting in 2011 when the Cornhuskers join the Big 10, but we'll just have to wait until next year.
The road map to a BCS Bowl game is clear-cut for Ohio State. Which Bowl it ends up being is the only remaining question mark, and that depends on what all the other potential BCS-bound teams do over these last three weeks.
Ohio State just needs to focus on the tasks at hand, and the rest will take care of itself.
Play in a BCS Bowl.
It really is that simple.