For the first time since March of 2015, Ohio State will play a game as a ranked team Wednesday night when it travels to Rosemont, Ill., to take on Northwestern.
The Buckeyes earned their new No. 22 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 poll after a surprising 15-4, 6-0 start to the season that has seen Chris Holtmann's team defeat the now-former No. 1 team in the country and win 10 of its last 11 games.
Speaking on his radio show with 97.1 The Fan in Columbus on Monday evening, however, Holtmann said he doesn't want to make too much of Ohio State's new position in the polls, largely because of how much of the schedule has yet to be played.
"It's really a credit to our players," Holtmann said of Ohio State's surge into the Top 25. "I have been fortunate enough to coach some teams that have been nationally ranked, and I never put a whole lot of stock into it just because they are so fluid, particularly this time of year.
"Give the guys a lot of credit. It is nice for the program, but we have such a long ways to go. There have been plenty of teams that have been ranked at this point and haven't finished very well."
The Buckeyes still have two-thirds of their Big Ten schedule yet to play, including trips to Northwestern on Wednesday and to Madison Square Garden on Saturday to take on a Minnesota squad that entered the season as a top-15 team. In addition, Ohio State is scheduled to travel to No. 3 Purdue on Feb. 7 and must make a return trip to Ann Arbor, Mich. on Feb. 18 to play a Wolverine team that also entered the AP Top 25 this week, checking in at No. 23.
Always the first to give credit to his players, especially veterans, Holtmann said the Buckeyes are cognizant of the stretch that is still ahead of them.
"I think our guys have great respect for our league and they know there's peaks and valleys in league play," Holtmann said. "We've had a good stretch here, but we know we are going to get knocked around and we have to respond the right way when we do."
In addition to being ranked in the AP poll, Ohio State is appearing in all kinds of postseason projections and power rankings.
While the rankings and projections don't mean much of anything in mid-January, Holtmann acknowledged that if Ohio State is in a similar position in about a month, then having a number next to the Buckeye name would be good to see.
"Come late February, early March, you are putting yourself in position to play meaningful games and have an opportunity for a postseason," he said. "Sometimes along with that comes a national ranking."