When it comes to being No. 1, Ohio State is No. 3.
For the 94th time in the history of The Associated Press college football poll, which dates to 1936, Ohio State is in the top spot. The only teams to be No. 1 more often are Oklahoma (97) and Notre Dame (95).
Catching the Sooners and Fighting Irish won’t be easy for the Buckeyes, who play their first game as No. 1 this season at No. 18 Wisconsin on Saturday.
“We have so many opponents left on our schedule, no matter what the ranking is, it’s not even an upset or anything, it’s just Big Ten football,” Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward said.
The Badgers are 40-4 at Camp Randall Stadium since the start of the 2004 season. And Ohio State’s last two games as No. 1 are ones Buckeyes fans would like to forget. In 2007, Ohio State was upset at home by Illinois in November, climbed back to No. 1 heading into the BCS championship game, then lost to LSU.
The last time the No. 1 team in the AP poll lost in consecutive weeks wasn’t all that long ago. In fact, it’s what led to Ohio State getting a second chance to be No. 1 in 2007.
LSU had worked its way back to No. 1 heading into its last regular-season game against Arkansas. The Tigers lost 50-48 in triple overtime and Missouri was No. 1 the next week. Those Tigers promptly lost the Big 12 title game 38-17 to Oklahoma and Ohio State became No. 1.
If the Buckeyes were to slip against the Badgers on Saturday night, No. 2 Oregon would be the most likely team to replace Ohio State. But the Ducks are off this week and at times out of sight can lead to out of mind for poll voters.
No. 3 Boise State plays at lowly San Jose State and No. 4 TCU is home against struggling BYU. It seems unlikely that either of those teams would jump the Ducks this week.
Oregon was closer in points in the latest AP poll to Ohio State than Boise State.
No. 5 Nebraska faces Texas at home, a game that had a chance to be a huge ratings booster to the Cornhuskers before the Longhorns went and dropped two straight games.
The first BCS standings of the season also arrive Sunday, so if the Badgers pull the upset against Ohio State it could provide even more intrigue.
South Florida (plus 10½) at No. 25 West Virginia — For Big East’s sake, Mountaineers need to run away with league title ... WEST VIRGINIA 28-14.
No. 1 Ohio State (minus 4) at No. 18 Wisconsin — Another No. 1 goes down? ... WISCONSIN 28-23.
No. 3 Boise State (minus 39½) at San Jose State — Spartans have already played Alabama, Wisconsin and Utah. Let’s ask them who’s No. 1 ... BOISE STATE 55-10.
BYU (plus 29) at No. 4 TCU — Cougars’ down year is killing Frogs’ schedule strength ... TCU 42-10.
Texas (plus 9½) at No. 5 Nebraska — Cornhuskers have been gearing up for this goodbye party for a while ... NEBRASKA 31-14.
Iowa State (plus 24) at No. 6 Oklahoma — Cyclones just gave up 68 to Utah ... OKLAHOMA 52-14
No. 12 Arkansas (plus 3½) at No. 7 Auburn — Don’t forget about Razorbacks. They still could be best in SEC West ... ARKANSAS 38-31.
Mississippi (plus 21½) at No. 8 Alabama — Unless Rebels pick up Alshon Jeffrey, Tide should be OK ... ALABAMA 42-17.
McNeese State (no line) No. 9 LSU — Tigers fans need a mental health day ... LSU 35-7.
No. 10 South Carolina (minus 5) at Kentucky — Steve Spurrier is really worried about this game — and he should be ... SOUTH CAROLINA 31-28
No. 11 Utah (plus 20½) at Wyoming — According to Sagarin computer ratings, Utah’s strength of schedule is 136th in nation ... UTAH 38-14.
Illinois (plus 7) at No. 13 Michigan State — Illini playing much better defense under new coordinator Vic Koenning ... MICHIGAN STATE 28-17.
No. 15 Iowa (minus 3) at Michigan — Shoelace shoots back to front of Heisman race ... MICHIGAN 35-28.
Boston College (plus 21½) at No. 16 Florida State — Seminoles look set to do some severe damage to ACC ... FLORIDA STATE 42-14.
No. 17 Arizona (minus 23½) at Washington State — Cougars getting better. Really. But still ... ARIZONA 41-21.
No. 19 Nevada (minus 7) at Hawaii — If you can stay up late, should be entertaining ... NEVADA 48-42.
No. 20 Oklahoma State (plus 3½) at Texas Tech — Cowboys can’t defend pass unless other team is throwing them the ball ... TEXAS TECH 42-38.
No. 21 Missouri (plus 3½) at Texas A&M — Two straight losses have Aggies coach Mike Sherman fending off critics ... TEXAS A&M 28-21.
Mississippi State (plus 7) at No. 22 Florida — Gators might not want to let Dan Mullen leave town ... FLORIDA 28-17.
No. 23 Air Force (minus 1) at San Diego State — Aztecs are improved, but Falcons have won three straight in series ... SAN DIEGO STATE 35-28.
No. 24 Oregon State (pick’em) at Washington — Beavers are best 3-2 in country ... OREGON STATE 35-30.
Last week: 14-5 (straight); 11-8 (vs. points).
Season: 96-19 (straight); 55-47-3 (vs. points).
Best bets: 1-1. Upset specials: 1-1.