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COLUMBUS - The damage assessment continues for the Ohio State Buckeyes. They are still calculating the cost of Saturday night's defeat at Wisconsin, and it appears to be adding up to a staggering amount.
The 31-18 loss means Ohio State spent the minimum amount of time as the No. 1 team in the nation - one week. After moving up to the top spot in last Sunday's polls, Ohio State dropped like a stone in Saturday's balloting, falling to No. 10 in the coaches poll and to No. 11 in the AP poll.
So all of the recent speculation about whether the Buckeyes would sit in the premier position when the first Bowl Championship Series standings came out last night became an irrelevant point. After Ohio State's loss, the Buckeyes were nowhere to be found near the top, instead lodged back in the No. 10 spot.
Oklahoma had the top position in the BCS rankings, followed by No. 2 Oregon, No. 3 Boise State, No. 4 Auburn, and No. 5 TCU.
Ohio State (6-1, 2-1 Big Ten) saw the complete dynamic of its season change with the pricey defeat in Madison. The Buckeyes went there with control of their destiny in pursuit of an undefeated regular season, a sixth straight Big Ten title, and a fourth trip to the BCS national championship game.
They left with none of that, since an unbeaten Michigan State now leads the Big Ten, and the Buckeyes won't get a shot at the Spartans this season, due to the Big Ten's rotating schedule. A whole gaggle of unbeaten teams remain nationally, and it would take a series of cataclysmic events for Ohio State to work its way back into the BCS title game picture.
"Now it all depends on some other teams," a dejected OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor said following the loss to the Badgers. Pryor's Heisman Trophy hopes might have been another unintended casualty of the loss.
The Buckeyes lost the coin toss before the Wisconsin game, and that might have been the beginning of the end of many of their season's dreams. Wisconsin took the ball, returned the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, and then rode an explosion of momentum to a 21-0 lead.
"I am at a loss for words," Ohio State senior linebacker Brian Rolle said following the game. "I thought after the kickoff return for a touchdown it was going to be a long night, but at no time did I think we would lose the game."
The Buckeyes fought back from three touchdowns behind to get within 21-18 with more than 11 minutes to play, but Wisconsin scored on its next possession, and that was the knockout punch.
"Sometimes, it's just not your night," Ohio State senior wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said Saturday night in Madison. "We weren't good enough tonight."
Rolle said the team will now have to quickly regroup and identify and correct its shortcomings that Wisconsin was able to exploit. Only by winning its final five games will Ohio State max out its chances to take advantage of any slips by the teams ranked above them.
"It's hard when you want something so bad and it's taken away from you," Rolle said about the costs associated with the loss to Wisconsin. "We all gave great effort, but we didn't have great results."
Contact Matt Markey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6510.
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