COLUMBUS -- The Ohio State Buckeyes aren't going to play for a national championship in January and they're not going to the Rose Bowl.
But there are three other BCS bowl games, and the Buckeyes belong in one of them.
It makes no difference to them. Fiesta Bowl, Orange Bowl or Sugar Bowl. Ohio State will accept a berth in any of the three. The Buckeyes feel they've earned it. They're 11-1, co-champions of the Big Ten Conference and they put together another strong finish after a midseason loss at Wisconsin.
Just tell the Buckeyes where to be in late December, BCS. They're ready to go.
"Absolutely," Ohio State left guard Justin Boren said. "We've proven that we can play good, physical football. Besides our only hiccup this season, we can play with anybody."
Since that 31-18 loss on Oct. 16 in Madison, Ohio State defeated Purdue (49-0), Minnesota (52-10), Penn State (38-14) and Iowa (20-17). On Saturday, the Buckeyes finished another November to remember with a convincing 37-7 victory over archrival Michigan.
Entering this weekend, Ohio State was eighth in the BCS rankings, trailing Oregon, Auburn, TCU, Boise State, LSU, Stanford and Wisconsin.
It's just simple math to Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel.
"Yeah, I think we're a top-10 team," he said after Ohio State beat Michigan for the seventh consecutive season and the ninth time in his 10 years in Columbus. "You know what? I don't even pay attention to all the different things and that stuff, but yeah, I think there's 10 BCS teams and we're a top-10 team. But who cares what I think?"
Linebacker Brian Rolle also believes the Buckeyes have performed well enough to be able to make flight reservations for Glendale, Ariz. (Fiesta), Miami (Orange) or New Orleans (Sugar).
"Any team in our position, having suffered a tough loss to Wisconsin and finishing strong like we did, would be honored by the possibility of playing in a BCS game," Rolle said. "We'll be happy to play wherever we go."
If it seems like most of the nation is sick of seeing the Buckeyes on television in January, that's probably because no team has played in more BCS bowl games than Ohio State. The Buckeyes have played in eight of them, and despite the perception that they can't win big games, they're 5-3 in those games.
Oklahoma and Southern California are next, each with seven BCS appearances. Neither of those teams is going to add to their total this season, so if Ohio State gets another invitation, the Buckeyes will be making their record ninth such appearance.
Tressel doesn't worried about the possibilities. He was asked Saturday if he'd feel slighted if his team ended up in a lesser bowl game.
"You know, I never feel slighted," Tressel said. "Every bowl I've been to has been nice. We always say you get as your works deserve. Wherever we deserve to be is where we'll be. We'll be happy and we'll have a tough opponent."
There was sniping last week between Ohio State president Gordon Gee and officials from Boise State and TCU after Gee said those teams didn't deserve to play in the BCS title game even if they finish the season unbeaten.
The Broncos won't. They were stunned in overtime by Nevada on Friday night. Assuming Oregon and Auburn win out, Boise State wasn't going to make the title game, but an intriguing matchup could have had the Broncos and Buckeyes facing off in Arizona, Florida or Louisiana. Now that's not likely to happen, either.
But what about TCU, which also bristled at Gee's verbal broadside?
It doesn't matter to the Buckeyes. Just tell them where to be.
"Wherever they send us, I'll be excited," Ohio State running back Dan Herron said. "I think (we're deserving). We only one game this year, and I think we're capable of playing with the top teams."