Originally posted on Waiting For Next Year  |  Last updated 10/25/11

“A funny thing happened to Ohio State during its bye week: The Buckeyes became a contender.” [Associated Press]

Um, no they didn’t.

I saw a lot of similar sentiments on twitter following Michigan State’s last second win against Wisconsin. Buckeye players tweeted things like “Dear World, we are back”. Fans and writers alike started laying out the course of events that could transpire to get the Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship game.

Here’s the thing though- a Wisconsin loss did not make the Buckeyes suddenly better. Yes, the Buckeyes only lost to Michigan State by three points, but what short memories we must have if we don’t remember how badly the Buckeyes were out-played in that game. It was only a last minute, prevent defense inspired drive that kept Ohio State from being shut-out at home for the first time in an eon.

Just use the eye test for a moment. Is Ohio State the best team in the conference this year? Even the most loyal Buckeye supporters would have to realistically doubt that.

Even if you think that they are, what really changed Saturday night? The Buckeyes still have games against the rest of the teams in the ‘Leaders’ division. The only division game they have played was against Illinois. Beat Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana and Penn State and the division is yours anyway realistically.

My optimism for that table run is at an all-time low by the way. And I don’t really want to discuss the game at the end of the season right now.

I also can’t help but feel that the loss at the hands of the Spartans may have just motivated the Badgers for Saturday as opposed to helping Ohio State in some way. They dropped all the way to 12th in the AP poll, and 15th in the BCS rankings. Yikes.

Coaches tell teams all the time to focus on the game at hand, and I think that is a pretty good idea for Buckeye fans this season. Watch the games each week. Enjoy the wins when they come. Watch for progress from some of these young players. But don’t get caught up in standings and records.

Maybe the players need to believe that a Big Ten title is still in play. That’s fine I suppose, but if you use that for motivation, what do you do when they are eliminated?

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