COLUMBUS — The hesitation is gone. Ohio State was ready to talk about national rankings and where it should fit into that picture after its 52-22 win over Illinois on Saturday.
OSU went into Saturday’s game ranked No. 6 in The Associated Press poll, the only one which includes the Buckeyes while they are under NCAA sanctions this season.
Top six is nice, but Ohio State — from coach Urban Meyer on down — thinks it should be a top five team.
When Meyer was asked if Ohio State felt like a top five team to him, he said, “I think so. Today’s performance was top five. I’ve been fortunate to have a couple of top five teams. This probably has more holes than those other ones. However, there have also been some great performances.”
When wide receiver Corey Brown was asked the same question, he said, “We should be. We’re undefeated, we’re 10-0.”
Linebacker Ryan Shazier said, “I feel we’re top five worthy. We’re just going to try to do what we can and show the world what we can do.”
Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State, Notre Dame and LSU were ranked ahead of OSU in last week’s AP poll.
Since Alabama and LSU were playing Saturday night, the Buckeyes knew at least one team ahead of them was going to lose, making the talk of climbing into the top five more relevant.
To have Ohio State discussing a top five ranking this late in the season is probably not something most people would have expected 10 weeks ago.
Coming off a 6-7 season and a year of turmoil, with question marks at some key positions, only an extreme optimist would have been talking 10-0.
Meyer said, “If you had asked me in the spring, I would have said no, I don’t think we are (a top five team). But I don’t really think about those kinds of things to be honest with you.”
After a bye week this week, Ohio State will go to Wisconsin on Nov. 17 to face a team that might have revenge on its mind after being stunned by a game-winning touchdown pass from Braxton Miller to Devin Smith in the final minute of last year’s game.
“We’ve got a big game coming up with Wisconsin and we don’t like them very much,” Brown said.
When it was suggested that the Badgers might not like Ohio State very much after last year’s game, Brown said, “That’s fine with us.”
When you’re 10-0 and probably didn’t expect to be 10-0, a lot of things look just fine.
NO VACATION: Meyer said Ohio State will practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Today will be an off day when they can come in for treatment and there will be weight lifting on Monday.
“I explained to them about bye weeks there are no rights around here. That’s earned time,” Meyer said. “If we didn’t play well we would have been in tomorrow working and going all week like a normal week.”
LOTS OF TOUCHDOWNS: Carlos Hyde’s three touchdowns against Illinois gives him 14 for the season, which leads the Big Ten. He is tied with Braxton Miller and Wisconsin’s Montee Ball for most rushing touchdowns in the Big Ten with 13.
LOTS OF TACKLES: Shazier had 14 tackles, which tied his career high. Zach Boren matched his career high with eight tackles.
SIZING UP THE LINE: After OSU’s offense gained 567 yards against Illinois, offensive line coach Ed Warinner said, “It’s a team game but when your offensive line plays well that helps the big picture.
“We had some good pieces but we had to get them in the right places and get them to buy into our system and our way of doing business.”