And then there were three.
Week by week, Ohio State’s path to the BCS National Championship Game becomes more clear. On Saturday, the latest peg fell, as Oklahoma State trounced Baylor 49-17. The Bears were just miniscule hundredths of a point behind the Buckeyes in last week’s BCS standings and would have passed Ohio State with a win.
Now, the Buckeyes need only worry about beating Michigan and Michigan State, then turning their attention to No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida State. Auburn and Missouri round out the top five in the latest BCS standings, but both Tigers are well behind Ohio State’s .920 BCS rating.
The current standings reflect a far-fetched path to the national title game for any one-loss team, including the SEC champion, if two of the top three remain unbeaten. CBS Sports BCS guru Jerry Palm says there is not a scenario where a one-loss team passes the Buckeyes.
“There's no "what if?,” he wrote on Sunday. “There's no situation. There’s no margin. There’s nothing that will cause Ohio State to get jumped if it keeps winning.”
Ohio State picked up 23 voters on Florida State in the Coaches Poll and 38 votes in the Harris Poll. Both set of rankings have an identical top five: Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Clemson and Auburn.
Helping the Buckeyes is a sudden surge in its strength of schedule. Michigan State is 10-1 and ranked 11th in the latest BCS rankings, while two-loss Wisconsin is up to 16th. Non-conference opponents Buffalo and San Diego State are 8-3 and 7-4, respectively.
In a surprise, Northern Illinois leaped ahead of Fresno State and is now in position to crash the BCS party for a second consecutive season. The Huskies are 14th with the Bulldogs two spots behind. The lowest-rated potential conference champion from a BCS league is AAC front-runner Central Florida at 19.