Each week during the college football season, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay kick off the week by settling a debate, and then look at emerging NFL prospects and peek ahead to next week.
Mel Kiper: It has been 693 days since Ohio State lost a football game. They've been discounted by the polls as a true threat to either Alabama or Florida State in large part because of the questions about competition, and by an extension of that, the degree with which they dominate that competition.
But there's a point where you have to step back and consider the significance of what it means to just never lose football games, especially when it's so common to see really good teams beaten on the road in conference. Ask Stanford; ask Oregon; ask Florida State last year; ask Alabama last year; ask Baylor this week.
And when Urban Meyer takes issue with the BCS, instead of pointing out the flaws in his team, you may want to put yourself in his shoes. He's in a major conference, he keeps winning games in mostly dominating fashion, and yet he's essentially left to defend his team. What do you have to defend about never losing, and beating opponents by 30-plus points on average? Well, plenty, it seems. And while I have Florida State and Alabama just ahead of Ohio State right now in terms of where I'd rank them, there are a few reasons OSU has legit beef with being left out of all the title projections so far:
1. They've dealt with some adversity in terms of personnel. Carlos Hyde was out at the beginning of the season. Braxton Miller missed time, and even when he came back, he was clearly limited. If you saw Miller play at Northwestern -- a game critics will point to as a night where OSU wasn't dominant enough -- it's clear you weren't seeing him at 100 percent. Meyer probably feels his team is just starting to reach its potential.
2. The defense is young and could get better. The Buckeyes have gotten big contributions from true freshman Joey Bosa, sophomore linemen Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, sophomore LB Joshua Perry and even freshman DB Tyvis Powell. Defense had been an issue earlier this season, something you could expect after losing seven starters from last season, but it's a unit that has gotten better, and I'm sure Meyer would relish the chance to work with them for another month-plus to see where they could be by the time they played a Bama or FSU.
3. Strength of schedule isn't something you can completely control. How could OSU have assumed the Big Ten would do them no favors at all? When you play in a good conference, with a conference title game at the end, going out of your way to schedule out of conference wouldn't seem necessary. OSU has been unlucky with Cal being so bad, Penn State being down and now with Michigan clearly in a tailspin. We like to knock schedules, but when you play in the Big Ten, it's pretty hard to assume you'd have so few opportunities to show off against good competition.
I'm not saying Ohio State is clearly at the same level of FSU or Bama right now. But it's hard to blame them for wanting a shot to prove it. After all, the last time they were big underdogs in a BCS title game, they won it.