The race is on ... for No. 3.
After Oregon's loss to Stanford last Thursday, the ranks of college football's major unbeatens shrunk to just four. Alabama and Florida State have a stranglehold on the top two spots in the latest BCS standings. They have all the No. 1 votes, as well as owning either the first or second spots in all six computers, so there is no chance for any other teams to catch up if Alabama and Florida State keep winning.
But if they do slip up, then things may get interesting.
Ohio State currently maintains its grip on the third spot. Despite the constant Big Ten bashing of the Buckeyes by the pundits, it's actually very unlikely that Ohio State would surrender its position without losing a game. With games against Illinois, Indiana and a fast-fading Michigan squad remaining on its regular-season schedule, Ohio State should get to the Big Ten Championship Game without a loss.
That's where OSU could need a little bit of help. If Michigan State defeats Nebraska next week and arrives at the B1G title game at 11-1, it'll likely be ranked in the Top 10 and much improved in the computer rankings. A Buckeyes' victory over the Spartans would just about cement Ohio State's shot at the BCS title game if either Alabama or Florida State loses.
It would also help the Buckeyes for Stanford and Baylor to both lose a game down the stretch or for both to win out. In the case of the latter, the Cardinal would have better computer rankings, but the Bears would rank higher in the polls, so they essentially would negate each other and keep Ohio State in front.
The Buckeyes have more to fear from Baylor than from Stanford. The Bears still have at least two games that may allow them to whittle away at Ohio State's lead in the polls and move up in the computer rankings. The Big 12 title—and Baylor's slim chance at a shot for the BCS title game—may come down to its regular-season finale against resurgent Texas, which is still unbeaten in conference play despite several close calls.
|The Race for No. 3|
|3||Ohio State||@ Illinois (84), Indiana (67), @ Michigan (46), B1G Champ*|
|4||Stanford||@ USC (26), Cal (95), Notre Dame (28), Pac-12 Champ*|
|5||Baylor||Tx Tech (51), @ Ok St (27), @ TCU (72), Texas (24)|
|7||Auburn||Georgia (15), Alabama (1), SEC Champ*|
|* If qualified; Massey BCS Ratings|
At this point, it's extremely unlikely that a one-loss team will find its way to the BCS National Championship Game, since that'll require three of the four unbeatens to lose. But in the unlikely event that should happen, Stanford is the clear front-runner, followed by Auburn, which can make a major leap by upsetting Alabama in the Iron Bowl.
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