OSU's 33-7 loss at Iowa on Saturday leaves the Buckeyes' bowl hopes squarely in doubt. The Buckeyes dropped to 3-3 overall and 0-3 in Big Ten play. Yes, Ohio State hosts Indiana (2-4, 0-3) and Penn State (2-4, 0-3) the next two weeks. But after that, the Buckeyes would need to steal at least one win in their last three games to get to 6-5 and qualify for the postseason.
The Buckeyes' November to remember (or forget) includes road games at Michigan State (4-3, 3-1) and Purdue (5-1, 2-1) and the season finale at home with Michigan (6-1, 4-0).
If Ohio State can't get to at least 6-5, the Buckeyes would miss a bowl game for the first time since 1999 and just the second time since 1988.
Iowa fans stormed the Kinnick Stadium field as their beloved Hawkeyes ended an eight-game losing streak to Ohio State and defeated the Buckeyes for the first time in Iowa City since 1983.
They serenaded the Buckeyes with chants of "Overrated! Overrated!" and "0-and-3!" The ridiculed the Buckeyes with shouts of "Motor City Bowl," a reference to the Detroit bowl game where the Big Ten's seventh bowl-eligible team would be placed.
OSU won its three nonconference games, defeating Cincinnati, Marshall and N.C. State. But things began to go awry with the 33-27 overtime loss at Northwestern Oct. 2. A week later, Wisconsin came into Ohio Stadium and snapped OSU's 18-game home winning streak with a decisive 24-13 win. And now this loss at Iowa, OSU's worst by margin since 1999.
The Buckeyes are 0-3 in Big Ten play for just the second time since 1943.
"We stop (the losing slide) by getting better and going out and deserving to win a game," said OSU head coach Jim Tressel, whose team was outgained 448-177 in total yardage by the Hawkeyes. "We haven't deserved to win any of our Big Ten games. That's a fact."
The losing seems to be taking a toll on the Buckeyes, who have typically refrained from calling each other out publicly during Tressel's three-plus years on the job. That changed at least a little bit following Saturday's embarrassing loss.
"This means more to some guys than it does to some others," said linebacker Bobby Carpenter. "I for one hate losing more than anything. We've got to find a way to get guys out there that it means more to them.
"There's guys who lack emotion. It doesn't mean anything to them emotionally. If we lose, to me, my week is not as good. I'm looking toward that next win. That's why I play football. I play sports to win games. I think there are a few guys it doesn't mean enough to them."
Linebacker Anthony Schlegel, who logged 15 tackles in the loss, was also outraged over the loss.
"We're here and we have a responsibility to play and represent the tradition of the people who went before us and we didn't do that today," Schlegel said. "It's just a respect for everybody who has played here and for our coaches.
"That's why I am so optimistic all the time. I know we have the personnel and the guys with passion. We've just got to get better and that starts tomorrow at practice."
Cornerback and co-captain Dustin Fox returned to action after missing the three previous games with a broken arm.
"We're struggling with some things as a team," Fox admitted. "You can't point fingers at guys. You need to ask, 'What can I do better?' Until we assess ourselves, we're not going to get better.
"It's hard because, mentally, when a game gets out of hand you have to keep pushing. As I told the guys, this is when we find out who we are. This type of situation builds character. We have to keep fighting. Mentally, I think we're OK. We need to get tighter and find something that works.
"We need to figure out some kind of chemistry for this team. If we don't do that, it's going to be a long season."
Fox is hopeful that the Buckeyes can right the ship and end the season on a high note.
"It's been embarrassing," Fox said. "It's important to me and my teammates and especially the seniors. I don't think there's anybody in this program who wants to give up. I think it's just a matter of getting the next victory. Things will be a lot better when the Buckeyes can get a win in that column."
Tailback and co-captain Lydell Ross netted zero yards on 10 carries at Iowa. But Ross has two career 100-yard games against OSU's next opponent, Indiana.
"I think it's everybody's job, including me, to stay positive," Ross said.