What does playing in Monday's Gator Bowl mean for Ohio State, what with both the Buckeyes and Florida Gators coming into the 1 p.m. game in Jacksonville, Fla., at only 6-6?
First of all, "a 7-6 record would be a lot better than a 6-7 record," said OSU junior fullback Zach Boren during Gator Bowl press day for the Buckeyes.
The last 6-6 Ohio State football team in 1999 didn't get a chance to play in a bowl game, but this one does. And the opportunity to avoid a losing season with the way this season ended - three close setbacks in games that could have been as easily won as lost - should be foremost on the Buckeye players' minds.
After all, OSU has had only 12 losing seasons in its 121-year gridiron history, but just three in the last 63 - 3-5-1 in 1959, 4-5 in 1966 and 4-6-1 in 1988. Ironically, both times that happened on Woody Hayes' watch in '59 and '66, two years later, the Buckeyes captured national championships in 1961 and 1968.
Monday's matchup versus Florida may not be the BCS bowl Ohio State fans have become accustomed to over the past decade, but starting Buckeye offensive lineman Jack Mewhort had another take on that. "BCS bowls are great, but bowl season is about playing a really good opponent you normally wouldn't see in the regular season," said the sophomore. "That's what you have with Ohio State versus Florida. There's a history there, and I think people are really eager to see both teams come out and play hard. I don't know who wouldn't want to watch it. I'm excited, and I think Buckeye Nation should be excited too."
Since the Buckeye offense looked the best it had all season against Michigan in a 40-34 loss in OSU's last game, will we see more of the same in Jim Bollman's final game as offensive coordinator?
It'll be interesting to see if Bollman will let it all hang out on offense versus the Gators, or at least duplicate the more varied and wide-open approach used against the Wolverines when the Buckeyes rolled up 372 yards, highlighted by quarterback Braxton Miller passing for 235 yards - more than 100 yards over what he had in any previous game this season.
"We felt great playing that game," said senior left tackle Mike Adams about Michigan. "We felt like we kind of got things rolling pretty well. It's something you take with you, so you can have that feeling again.''
Of course, the SEC question is back again, after we all thought it was gone for good following the Buckeyes' now-vacated 31-26 Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas last season to wipe out their 0-9 bowl record against the SEC.
Also, the Buckeye defense doesn't know what to expect from the Florida offense come Monday, with Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis leaving after the regular season to take over the head coaching job at Kansas.
In Weis' wake, running backs coach Brian White is in charge of the offense and will call the plays for the bowl game, a fact that makes it tougher for the OSU defense to study the Gators' offensive tendencies.
"It's tough,'' said Buckeye defensive lineman John Simon, '' because they could show up in any formation, run any play. So we're preparing for everything."