COLUMBUS - With Ohio State's 26-21 victory over Michigan on Saturday, the Buckeyes finished the season with a 12-0 record - only the sixth time in history an OSU team has went unbeaten.
On any normal year, the Buckeyes would now be preparing for the Big Ten Championship game, which this year would be against Nebraska. Coach Urban Meyer and the select group of players would be answering questions about a rematch with coach Bo Pelini and if the Buckeyes could score another 63 points if needed.
But instead, the players and coaches for Ohio State went to bed Saturday night without having to worry about football for the near future. As Ohio State senior Zack Domicone said after the game, "I'm going to relax and watch the Steelers."
Today, when the final regular season Associated Press football poll is released, Ohio State will likely be anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4. Going into the Michigan game, the Buckeyes were ranked at No. 4. The only way Ohio State could have jumped to the top spot is if Notre Dame would have lost to USC on Saturday night. It has to be believed that if the sanctions and bowl ban were not in place, the Buckeyes would have been second last week as one loss Alabama and Georgia outranked the Buckeyes.
Another hypothetical situation caused by bowl ban: With Notre Dame and Ohio State both finishing the season at 12-0, and if Ohio State were to have beaten Nebraska in the Big Ten Championship, it's more than likely the Buckeyes would have had a ticket to the BCS National Championship Game against the Fighting Irish.
But that's not the case. Ohio State, like many other teams in the country, will be watching it from the comfort of their couches.
However, here's a thought to chew on: Maybe it's for the best.
Meyer led this team to a 12-0 record right out of the gate. If the Buckeyes were to have made the national championship game - and somehow have won it - the expectations for Meyer and any future team would be unrealistically high. It would literally be undefeated and national title game or bust every year. That's a lot of pressure for a team and coach that is still trying to build its own legacy.
Meyer has a good thing going at Ohio State, but it needs time to develop. Just this season, the play of Braxton Miller improved dramatically, Carlos Hyde is emerging as one of the best running backs in college football and even the defense showed signs of improvement toward the end of the year.
Now next year, the secondary has to be addressed in terms of past performances and the Buckeyes have to find a replacement for John Simon on the defensive line, but the program is still coming along to where Meyer wants it to be.
It's getting better, but it's not all there yet.
The 12-0 record is great for recruiting. The not being able to go to the bowl is going to be great for the foundation. Because when the Buckeyes are in a title game - which will be in the near future - it will be with the team and the personnel that Meyer wants.