The state of the unbeaten teams in Ohio
OCT 01, 2012 3:44p ET
The state of football in the state of Ohio is good.
Three Div. I-FBS college football teams are unbeaten heading to October, and all three have the right combination of talent and schedule ahead to continue their respective streaks. Ohio State survived at Michigan State last weekend, Cincinnati upset Virginia Tech and Ohio University remains on track for its best season in school history.
Only the state of Texas has more unbeaten teams at this juncture as Texas, Texas Tech, TCU and Texas-San Antonio have combined for 17 victories without a loss.
Below is a look at what's ahead for Ohio State, Cincinnati and Ohio University as they chase perfection -- and just keep trying to stack victories along the way.
CURRENT RECORD: 5-0, 1-0 in Big Ten play.
CURRENT RESUME: The Buckeyes got their biggest win last weekend at Michigan State, gutting out a fourth-quarter victory that erased -- at least temporarily -- some lingering doubt from three pretty bland performances against non-conference competition. The real resume-builders are ahead, but this Ohio State team is improving and seems up to the challenge.
NEXT UP: Nebraska this Saturday night. The Huskers are 4-1 and good enough offensively to hand the Buckeyes their first loss. Both teams will be ready and should come out firing.
SHOULD STAY UNBEATEN AT LEAST UNTIL: This weekend's game is very big, but the Buckeyes owe Nebraska one for last year and Ohio Stadium will be rocking. Purdue's visit Oct. 20 actually might decide the Leaders Division champion and will certainly determine just how big the games will be in the closing stretch, when the Buckeyes visit Wisconsin and host Michigan.
BOWL GAME CEILING: Um, yeah. About that. The NCAA hit the Buckeyes with a one-year bowl ban which includes a ban from the Big Ten Championship Game. It appears to be a very down year for the Big Ten, and in another year this Ohio State team would be primed for a run to Pasadena or The Really Big Game. As is, we can get all ready for what's almost certainly going to be the most-hyped Michigan-Ohio State game since 2006 and maybe one of the most anticipated games in the series ever.
ISSUES TO TACKLE: Tackling, first, as the Buckeyes have given up too many big plays and allowed too many opposing ball carriers to find space. Braxton Miller is looking as explosive as any player in the country and has the Buckeyes producing even as they're still trying to master the offense and patch some holes. Miller might be taking too many hits, but Urban Meyer is going to ride him and the onus is on the opposition to find a way to slow him down. It hasn't happened yet.
OUTLOOK: The Buckeyes can win 10, 11 or even 12. Miller is that good, the Big Ten might just be that bad and the Ohio State roster has enough talent to overcome the remaining hurdles. Neither the running game nor the passing game has been what Meyer wants them to be, and the defense has been inconsistent, but the Buckeyes are passing tests, showing improvements and have the veteran leaders to make this a season to remember, even if it is a game or two shorter than anyone involved wishes it was.
CURRENT RECORD: 3-0, 1-0 in the Big East.
CURRENT RESUME: A neutral-site win that wasn't really neutral last weekend over Virginia Tech is a marquee win by just about any program's standards, and it's a huge boost for the young Bearcats. The top Big East challenges come later, but confidence can be a dangerous thing, and whether or not these Bearcats are actually the country's 23rd best team as this week's Coaches Poll says they are, they're certainly dangerous.
NEXT UP: Their traditional backyard rivalry game with Miami (Ohio) this weekend, televised live on FOX Sports Ohio.
SHOULD STAY UNBEATEN AT LEAST UNTIL: They go to Toledo Oct. 20. The Rockets are talented, and it's a dangerous non-conference game that's six days before what could be a battle of unbeaten teams with the Big East title at stake at Louisville. If the Bearcats win both of those games, start looking at flights to Fort Lauderdale.
BOWL GAME CEILING: The Orange Bowl, usually home to the Big East champion. The Bearcats played in back-to-back BCS games in 2008-09 and probably would have gone to Miami again last year had Zach Collaros not suffered a broken ankle vs. West Virginia. Getting there this year seemed a very lofty goal six weeks ago and still would be at least a mild upset, but the Bearcats have the ingredients for a run.
ISSUES TO TACKLE: A relatively inexperienced offense has to handle prosperity and be more efficient. Quarterback Munchie Legaux is still growing into a leadership role, and with nine games left the Bearcats have to stay healthy and stay on the right side of the emotional swings of the season.
OUTLOOK: The Bearcats knew they had plenty of new faces and would fy under the radar early in the season until and unless they won nationally-televised games vs. Pitt and Virginia Tech. Here they are at 3-0, which is way too early to crown them anything other than a team to watch going forward. Besides Louisville, the only Big East road games are at Temple and UConn. Those are winnable, and if the Bearcats keep progressing a double-digit win season and Big East title are very realistic possibilities.
CURRENT RECORD: 5-0, 1-0 in the MAC.
CURRENT RESUME: The Penn State win is better than it looked three weeks ago, and the Marshall win will look better four weeks from now than it does today. The Bobcats are flawed and aren't really a top-25 team (yet), but they're receiving votes and will keep getting national attention if the wins keep coming.
NEXT UP: Buffalo this Saturday, starting a two-game homestand that also includes a visit from improving but not-quite-there-yet Akron. It's looking like 7-0 and in all likelihood 10-0 if the Bobcats get quarterback Tyler Tettleton healthy and stay healthy otherwise.
SHOULD STAY UNBEATEN AT LEAST UNTIL: Bowling Green visits Nov. 7. The trip to Miami (Ohio) on Oct. 27 is a road rivalry game against a very good quarterback in Zac Dysert, but it's one the Bobcats should win. The best guess from here is the BG-Ohio winner will have a leg up on winning the MAC East.
BOWL GAME CEILING: The BCS isn't totally out of the question for a 13-0 Ohio team, but the chances of either happening are very, very slim. Realistically, an 11-13 win Ohio team could find a home -- and intriguing matchups -- vs. a Pac-12 team in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, vs. an SEC team in the BBVA Compass Bowl or vs. a Big Ten team in the Ticket City Bowl. There's a long, long way to go, however.
ISSUES TO TACKLE: Bumps and bruises are turning into injuries that are causing key players to miss games -- and months. Tettleton has an undisclosed injury that kept him out of the Norfolk State game nine days ago and had him less than 100 percent for a closer-than-expected win at UMass last weekend. The secondary has been hit especially hard by injury, and there are some very good quarterbacks on the back half of the schedule.
OUTLOOK: The Bobcats are playing them one at a time, trying to win the MAC East's bid to Detroit and win the school's first conference title since 1968. The players know what might be in front of them, but this is a mature group that's used to winning and embraces the attention. It would be hard to pick Ohio to go undefeated, but the Bobcats will be favored barring injury from here on out and have the pieces to keep the wins coming.
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