How much better is Ohio State?

What the early numbers say about the Buckeyes' title chances

Updated: September 25, 2013, 4:00 PM ET
By Brian Fremeau | ESPN Insider

Urban MeyerGreg Bartram/USA TODAY SportsUrban Meyer and the Buckeyes likely will need help in order to make the BCS title game.

The Ohio State Buckeyes haven't lost a game since Jan. 2, 2012, a 24-17 loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl. Urban Meyer had been named the new head coach of the Buckeyes only a few weeks earlier, and wouldn't coach his first game with OSU until the fall. Since that point, however, Ohio State has run off 16 straight victories.

Despite all of that success in the win column, there are still questions about just how good Ohio State may be. The Buckeyes' undefeated 2012 season featured only three wins over teams ranked at the time of the game -- and only two over teams ranked at the end of the year -- and close calls against several mediocre opponents. In our season-ending efficiency ratings, the Buckeyes ranked only ninth in the country -- not as good as you might expect from an undefeated team.

Ohio State remains a strong favorite to win the Big Ten and claim a BCS bowl berth, and if the top teams currently ranked ahead of them stumble, the Buckeyes will be in position to play in the BCS National Championship Game. So the question is: Have they improved to the point where they truly measure up against the nation's very best teams this season? We turned to our efficiency measures and compared Ohio State's statistical profile to national title contenders of the recent past to see how the Buckeyes stack up. 

Brian Fremeau

ESPN Insider
• Has been a contributor to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine since 2009
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site, bcftoys.com