It certainly looks that way with Oregon State’s flame out last night. In theory, Ohio State could be passed over for the undefeated Boise State coming out of the WAC, but it is difficult to see a situation in which a BCS Bowl committee would turn down the sure-thing OSU fanbase (read: money).
That means the Buckeyes are off to a big-ticket destination in a month. But where? Due to Oregon State’s loss we are going to have a Rose Bowl with Southern Cal and Penn State. It is probably a safe assumption that the BCSCG will include teams from the Big 12 and SEC.
Here is what the selection process may look like:
Because the Sugar and Fiesta Bowls lose their champions to the BCSCG, they get first and second pick, respectively, of the BCS eligible teams to play in the respective bowls. The Sugar will likely take the SECCG loser and my guess is that the Fiesta will take Texas or Oklahoma, whichever team does not appear in the BCSCG.
The selection order after that—Fiesta, Sugar, then Orange—is set by virtue of the proximity of the date of the bowl game to the national championship (closer bowl goes first).
Keep in mind that the ACC Champion is contractually obligated to play in the Orange and we already discussed the Rose Bowl. Finally, there are normally two at-large teams selected to BCS bowls but this year is different because Utah crashed the party.
That means the selection order looks like this: Sugar, Fiesta, Fiesta, Sugar, Orange.
Obviously others disagree, but here are my best guesses:
Rose: Penn State* v. Southern Cal*
Fiesta: Texas v. Utah
Orange: Boston College* v. Cincinnati
Sugar: Alabama v. Ohio State
BCS: Florida v. Oklahoma
Obviously, the Fiesta could choose the Buckeyes to fly west, but there are plenty of backroom dealings between the bowls when selecting these teams and Utah had success there in the recent past, making them an attractive selection again.
That means, by my crude calculations, Ohio State is likely off to the Sugar Bowl to play Alabama (or Florida, but I personally doubt that Florida wins next weekend). Despite the Tide’s top ranking for the last half of the season, I think Alabama is a better matchup for the Buckeyes than, say, Texas in the Fiesta. Ohio State has a better chance of winning a low-scoring game versus Alabama than a shootout against the Longhorns.
Of course, you could debate that Ohio State’s best possible bowl destination is the Credit Card Bowl against Georgia. That may be the Buckeyes’ best chance to get the SEC monkey off their back while finishing their season on a high note.