Ohio State is the best team in the country. The Buckeyes are a near-unanimous No. 1 in both the AP and the Coaches’ Poll. They’re ridiculously talented and the clear national title favorite.
Urban Meyer’s team is playing a weak schedule this season. People – those in SEC country, mostly – are starting to talk about that. Former Buckeye foe and current Arkansas coach Bret Bielema threw shade at OSU’s slate on the SEC coaches’ teleconference call this morning.
Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen has now done the same. He appeared on ESPN’s The Paul Finebaum Show this evening and, after some prodding from Finebaum, discussed Ohio State’s schedule directly.
Here’s what he said:
“I think all the talk, you kept hearing things in the offseason, ‘the SEC has lost its luster, lost its power and other leagues are catching up,’ I don’t know that that’s the case. I think what’s always made this league special is the depth of the league. I think the top teams, you look around the country at the top teams in every conference, (they) can play with everybody in the SEC. But what you’re talking about now is…I guess we’re in at No. 25. We’re the 10th-ranked team in our conference and we’re No. 25 in the nation, that’s pretty good. You’re not going to see that anywhere else. Week in and week out, that’s what makes it a tough schedule. You look at the top teams in the Big Ten, they’re playing one ranked team a year. They’re getting a lot of time to roll in younger players, the opportunity to stay healthy for most of the year, (and) really get motivated for that one big game. Here in the SEC – the West this year, everybody is ranked – every single week you gotta bring your A-game.”
“I look at (ESPN’s) FPI, Ohio State has a 99 percent chance to win their games. What’s interesting is how that would rank for each team in the SEC West off of (Ohio State’s) schedule – how many of those (SEC West) teams would be looked as locks for the playoff just in the West if that was the schedule that our teams had to play, and what (Ohio State’s) percentage would be if they were playing one of our schedules.”
We get it, SEC: you play a tough schedule. So do teams in other conferences. Ohio State probably won’t this year. That doesn’t mean they’re not deserving of a No. 1 ranking and/or wouldn’t go undefeated in a different conference.
Let’s move on.