After weeks of waiting, wishing and hoping, Ohio State is finally in a position to play for a national championship.
The Buckeyes moved to No. 2 in the recently released BCS standings thanks to Auburn’s win over Alabama, which knocked the Tide from No. 1, where they had been all season, to No. 4.
Florida State, which was No. 2 last week, moves to No. 1 and holds that top spot for the first time since 1999. Auburn is No. 3 and Missouri comes in at No. 5.
But as we’ve learned in the past few weeks, nothing is set in stone. All of the teams in the Top 5 – except for Alabama – still have to play in conference championship games. Florida State faces No. 20 Duke in the ACC title game, Ohio State faces No. 10 Michigan State in the Big Ten title game and Auburn and Missouri will square off in the SEC championship. And any slip in those games could throw the BCS standings into a tizzy.
The game between Auburn and Missouri probably could have the greatest effect on who plays in the national championship. Some believe that if Auburn were to win that game, it would jump Ohio State and move into No. 2.
But if it didn’t happen this week – after Auburn’s emotional, improbable and unbelievable win in the Iron Bowl – the chances of it happening after a victory against Missouri is slim.
That’s because Ohio State finally faces an opponent with some BCS clout. Michigan State has one of the nation’s best defenses and because it is ranked in the top 10, if the Buckeyes beat the Spartans convincingly, there will be no argument about who deserves to be playing for the national title.
Even though the margin between Ohio State and Auburn is a mere .027 points, Ohio State leads Auburn in all three phases of the BCS standings – the Harris Poll, Coaches Poll and computer rankings. Not sure there's anything Auburn could do to sway the human polls to its side.
For the first time since the BCS standings were released, the Buckeyes aren’t relying on someone else to fail to push them forward. The road to the national championship game is finally in their hands. Beat Michigan State convincingly in the Big Ten Championship and the Buckeyes are heading to the game in Pasadena that really matters.
Here are some other notes from the BCS standings:
• Northern Illinois is No. 14 and one win away from playing in its second consecutive BCS bowl game. But much like last year, the Huskies don’t exactly match up well with any of the potential teams they might face.
• Baylor faded from national championship talk a week ago, but at No. 9 with a game against No. 25 Texas remaining, the Bears could still be in the hunt for an at-large bid. Their offense is an attractive draw especially if they could be paired against Arizona State or Oregon.
• No. 16 Central Florida is one win away from securing an automatic BCS berth with an AAC title. It’s quite the feat considering this is UCF’s first year in an automatic qualifying conference.
• The chances of Alabama somehow sneaking back into the national championship are pretty slim, but the Tide are pretty much guaranteed a BCS at-large spot.
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