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AD Smith gambled and lost that NCAA wouldn't levy bowl ban, now Buckeyes' season almost over

Any other year Ohio State is unbeaten and ranked No. 4 coming into its annual rivalry game with Michigan, its fans would be trolling the internet for the best airfares to the BCS title game.

Not this time.

Due to NCAA sanctions, Ohio State is banned from playing for the Big Ten championship next week and going to a bowl, and isn't a factor in the national title picture.

So a wondrous and surprising season — 11-0 heading into Saturday's home game with the 20th-ranked Wolverines — will come to an abrupt and premature end on Saturday.

Many of the faithful blame athletic director Gene Smith, who gambled and lost that the NCAA wouldn't levy a bowl ban.