Above all else, the Ohio State football team wants to beat rival Michigan this week.
Doing so would put the Buckeyes, already champions of the Big Ten Leaders Division, in a spot to accomplish even more.
Not only does an undefeated season hang in the balance when the Buckeyes face the Wolverines, but Ohio State could put itself in position for an AP national championship should it defeat the Wolverines on Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes moved up to No. 4 in the Associated Press poll released Sunday afternoon behind only unanimous No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia. That movement came thanks to upset losses by previous No. 1 Oregon and No. 2 Kansas State last night.
In addition, at least two of the teams above the Buckeyes are guaranteed to lose this season. With regular-season closing win vs. Auburn, Alabama will face Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, set for Dec. 1 in Atlanta. In addition, the BCS National Championship game looms on the horizon, guaranteeing a loss to at least one more team above the Buckeyes.
While Alabama closes the regular season with Auburn, Georgia hosts Georgia Tech and Notre Dame visits USC.
In other words, it appears Ohio State would have a good chance at finishing at least second and perhaps even first in the AP poll with a win against the Wolverines.
Head coach Urban Meyer said the possibility of going undefeated and reaching No. 1 for his team, which faces a postseason ban, is now on the table.
“We can talk about it now,” Meyer said. “We’ve kind of put a muzzle on it. They’re going to get a ring. They’re champions of their side. If you’re going to keep score, you want to be a champion. Our guys did that.”
Previously, Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby said at the midway point of the season that the team wanted to make as much of a national statement as it could.
"We're trying to go 12-0 and win every single game, trying to get that AP No. 1,” Roby said. “We want to win the national championship. That's our goal. They can't take that away."