COMMENTARY | The Ohio State Buckeyes find themselves in a familiar spot this bowl season. After a two-year absence, OSU will once again play in a BCS bowl game when the Buckeyes face the Clemson Tigers in the Orange Bowl on January 3. This marks OSU’s 10th appearance in a BCS bowl since the series began in 1998, which is tops among all FBS schools. It might be one of the Buckeyes’ most important BCS bowl games, as well. There’s a lot more than pride on the line against Clemson for OSU. These are three reasons why the Buckeyes must defeat the Tigers in the Orange Bowl: OSU Must Prove They Can Bounce Back After A Loss OSU coughed up a chance to face Florida State in the BCS championship game when they lost to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game on December 7. While the loss to the Spartans was disappointing, it will be interesting to see how Urban Meyer’s team responds in the bowl game. Remember, this will be the first time the Buckeyes are coming off a loss in the Meyer era, and a loss to Clemson could really damage the psyche of OSU’s underclassmen heading into 2014. OSU needs to find a way to defeat the Tigers to regain some lost confidence and end the year on a high note. The Buckeyes’ Credibility Is At Stake Of the handful of legitimate national title contenders that materialized in 2013, the Buckeyes were undoubtedly the least-respected team in that group. Twice this season, OSU dropped in the polls following a victory, mainly because the Big Ten is quite frankly not the conference it once was. Even though the conference that Clemson hails from — the ACC — has long been one of the weakest of the BCS conferences, FSU’s march to No. 1 this season likely vaulted the ACC ahead of the Big Ten in most people’s eyes. A victory over the second-best team in the ACC would go a long way towards restoring some much-needed credibility for OSU and the Big Ten as a whole entering 2014. OSU Needs To Impress The Pollsters Heading Into 2014 A Buckeyes loss in the Orange Bowl could be damaging to their 2014 national title hopes. I know that may sound nonsensical, but bear with me here. This season, OSU opened the year at No. 2 in the polls after their undefeated 2012 season, and they still needed losses by several teams just to even be in a position to appear in the national title game before the loss to MSU. If OSU loses their final two games of 2013, you can forget about them being ranked in any preseason top five next summer. FSU, Auburn, Baylor, Stanford, Oregon and Alabama may all be ranked ahead of the Buckeyes heading into 2014, and even though there will be four spots in college football’s new playoff system, a loss to Clemson means that OSU could once again be doing a lot of scoreboard watching next fall. Shaun Heidrick is a Yahoo Contributor who has followed Ohio State football for over 25 years. Sports & RecreationAmerican FootballClemson Tigersthe Buckeyes
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