For Ohio State-Auburn Debate, How They Do in Title Games Will Be the Difference

Andrew CoppensContributor IDecember 1, 2013

Nov 30, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive lineman Tommy Schutt (90) and defensive lineman Joey Bosa (97) celebrate after the game at Michigan Stadium. Ohio State won 42-41. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

After a last-second win for Ohio State against rival Michigan and Auburn beating Alabama with a last-second miracle return in the Iron Bowl, many were curious how the polls would view the Buckeyes and Tigers. 

On Sunday night it was Ohio State who jumped to the No. 2 spot and has the inside track on a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. 

Sitting right behind them at No. 3 is Auburn, who is just .027 behind the Buckeyes in the BCS average.

With both Ohio State and Auburn playing games against fellow Top 10 BCS opponents this weekend and things sitting so close in the standings, it could be how these games play out that makes all the difference. 

Yes, that's right—Ohio State and the words "style points" are being put together again. However, OSU isn't the only team that has to worry about "style points" in a championship game either. 

Ohio State leads by enough that all things being equal, it very well could hold on to its lead over the Tigers in the computer rankings and human polls. 

Yet, to put a final nail in a BCS National Championship bid, the Buckeyes would do well to win and win big. 

The Buckeyes will face the toughest opponent it has seen since a home date with Wisconsin on Sept. 28 in No. 10 Michigan State on Saturday in the Big Ten Championship Game. 

Ohio State won that game against Wisconsin by six points at home, holding off a late charge by the Badgers. A similar result against Michigan State on a neutral field may not be enough to simply ensure a date in Pasadena on January 6, 2014 instead of January 1, 2014.

That's because a lot could depend on what takes place ahead of the Big Ten Championship Game in Atlanta for the SEC title.

Auburn's opponent in that game, Missouri, may provide a bit more of a boost by being ranked No. 5, but make no mistake the Tigers have to do more than just win this game to jump Ohio State. 

If it can put up a statement game and give itself some "style points," it will give voters a lot to think about heading into the final polls before the BCS National Championship Game. 

An Ohio State response with a dominating performance of its own will nip that theory in the bud, though, and that's why the Buckeyes need to play their best game of the season. 

As we sit here to open up the Big Ten Championship Game week, it has to feel like familiar territory for Ohio State. 

Ohio State finds itself right where it started the season at No. 2, and it needs to still impress the voters and computers to stay there. 

A series of less-than-impressive results to open the season saw the Buckeyes drop from the top two. Fast-forward 14 weeks and OSU is in the same situation. Talk about deja vu? 

Whoever makes it to the BCS National Championship Game, whether it is Auburn or Ohio State, certainly would have earned it by winning over an impressive opponent in its respective conference championship game. 

It just may be the how of the W and not the W itself that will matter most in separating the two candidates.


*Andy Coppens is Bleacher Report's lead writer for the Big Ten. You can follow him on Twitter: @ andycoppens