Ohio State Football: Stanford's Upset of Oregon Boosts OSU's Title Chances

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Ohio State Football: Stanford's Upset of Oregon Boosts OSU's Title Chances
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One down, one to go.

The Ohio State Buckeyes entered their bye week a distant fourth in the national title race, needing two upsets to gain position for a possible bid to the championship game.

Stanford gave the Buckeyes one of those upsets Thursday night when it beat No. 3 Oregon 26-20 in Stanford Stadium.

The Cardinal controlled the game, shutting out Oregon's offense, which entered the contest averaging 55.6 points per game, for the first 50 minutes of action. Stanford used its power run game to essentially play keep away as the Cardinal dominated with a three-to-one time-of-possession advantage.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Ducks finally got on the board with 10 minutes to play when Marcus Mariota found Daryle Hawkins for a 23-yard score. Stanford was looking to ice the game on the ensuing drive, but Oregon blocked Jordan Williamson's field-goal attempt and returned it 65 yards to make it a 26-13 game.

Stanford was still in control, but Oregon gained momentum when it recovered an onside kick, then drove 43 yards in 10 plays to cut the Cardinal's lead to six.

The Ducks just ran out of time. Stanford hauled in Oregon's final onside kick and iced the game with three straight runs.

Needless to say, there were some engaged viewers in Columbus, Ohio:

It was a big upset to aid the Buckeyes, who return to the field after their bye week with matchups against Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. If Ohio State rolls through the rest of the regular season and then takes the Big Ten title game, the Buckeyes will have a 25-game winning streak going into bowl season.

All they would need is one more upset.

Of the two other teams ranked ahead of the Buckeyes—Alabama and Florida State—the Tide have the tougher road to navigate.

It starts this weekend for Alabama when it hosts No. 13 LSU. The Tide will then close out the regular season with games against Mississippi State, Chattanooga and No. 9 Auburn before playing in a possible SEC title game.

The Seminoles' toughest games are behind them as they have Wake Forest, Syracuse, Idaho and Florida coming up before a likely matchup in the ACC title game.

The Buckeyes need someone to upset either Alabama or Florida State. The Tide's matchup with LSU this Saturday night provides one of the best opportunities for that to happen.

According to BCS guru Samuel Chi, Ohio State's standing at the No. 3 spot is likely safe, despite impressive victories from No. 5 Stanford and No. 6 Baylor Thursday night:

Ohio State is expected to move up to No. 3, but it can't comfortably count on being there as if it's in the on-deck circle, waiting for an Alabama or FSU loss to move into the BCS title game. There is a possibility that the Buckeyes might get jumped by Baylor, though it's a small one.

Will the Buckeyes get one more upset? Urban Meyer would rather his team focus on getting better than pay attention to the rankings:

"I have to make sure that's not something we discuss," Meyer said, according to Michael Marot of the Associated Press. "The goal of this team is to come back faster and stronger than when we went into the bye week."

After the Oregon upset, it's easy to imagine the Buckeyes coming back with a little pep in their step next week.

 

Unless otherwise noted, all stats via NCAA.com.

David Regimbal is the Ohio State Football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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