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Despite being ‘in the mix,’ Buckeyes not focusing on BCS rankings

The OSU football team sings ‘Carmen Ohio’ after a game against Iowa Oct. 19 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 34-24. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

The OSU football team sings ‘Carmen Ohio’ after a game against Iowa Oct. 19 at Ohio Stadium. OSU won, 34-24.
Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

College football coaches across the country typically shy away from talking about rankings with their teams, and Ohio State head man Urban Meyer is no exception.

Meyer said Monday during his weekly press conference that he spoke with team about the inaugural BCS standings, released Sunday evening, in what he called his “first state of the union address.”

“My comment was that we are, indeed, in the mix. Embrace it,” Meyer said at Monday’s press conference. “In the mix for what? Don’t worry about it. We are in the mix, though.”

OSU is currently ranked No. 4 in the BCS, with a .8553 average, which is taken from the Harris Poll, USA TODAY poll and six computers. The Buckeyes are significantly behind No. 3 Oregon, which has a BCS average of .9320.

Meyer, though, said he told his team to embrace where it sits and the only thing that matters is what happens is on the field.

“People think very highly of you. Maybe some people don’t,” Meyer said. “You just have to go out and be the best team on the field on Saturday, not in the country.”

Junior wide receiver Devin Smith echoed his coach’s sentiment Monday.

“He told us not to worry about it too much,” Smith said. “Just keep playing football, keep getting better and just take it one game at a time and everything will fall into place.”

If OSU has any plans of playing in the BCS National Championship game in January, it is likely the three teams that sit above it (Alabama, Florida State and Oregon) will need to lose before season’s end. Even if that happens and the Buckeyes finish undefeated and win the Big Ten Championship, a one-loss school from another conference such as the SEC could jump them because of the team’s strength of schedule. The chance of that happening, though, is not something that is crossing the minds of OSU players, junior defensive lineman Michael Bennett said.

“Can’t really do much about it,” Bennett said. “All you can do is go out and win and try to start handling, and winning by large margins. That’s all we can really do. We’re always trying to destroy teams, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.”

OSU is one of three Big Ten teams in the initial BCS rankings, and the only one in the top 20. Michigan (No. 22) and Nebraska (No. 24) are the others, and both already have one loss in 2013.

If the Buckeyes want any chance of playing for the crystal football in Pasadena Jan. 6, focusing on and beating each opponent is their first and only concern.

“I think guys are aware of (the rankings), but we just need to focus on going out there and winning games because if we don’t focus on the teams we’re playing … that could hurt us if we’re not focused,” sophomore offensive lineman Taylor Decker said.

Bennett said “the BCS would work itself out” at the end of the season.

“We can handle it, I think we still have that game-to-game approach,” Bennett said. “But it’s just good to know that if we keep doing our job then everything will be fine.”

The Buckeyes are only scheduled to play one more currently-ranked team in the regular season (Michigan), so their chances of moving up in the BCS without other teams losing seem slim. Being aware of where they stand, though, is a good thing Decker said.

“You gotta be aware of it because it’s going to be talked about,” Decker said. “We still have a lot of football left to play and that, we gotta be focused on, so I think we just need to focus on the next game from a team standpoint.”

OSU is set to host Penn State (4-2, 1-1) 8 p.m. Saturday.

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