COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — What's brewing with the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes ...
Baylor closes on Ohio State in BCS standings
RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer
Baylor closed in on third-place Ohio State in the latest BCS standings.
The Bears and Buckeyes have little hope of catching first-place Alabama or second-place Florida State in the race to the BCS championship game without a loss from one of the top two. Ohio State and Baylor are fighting for the right to be next in line if the Tide or 'Noles slip up.
The Buckeyes are ahead of the Bears in both the Harris and USA Today coaches' polls, but behind Baylor in the computer rankings. The combined average of the six computer rankings has the Bears third, with Alabama and Florida State tied for first. Ohio State is fifth in the computers.
Ohio State has a BCS average of .8869. Baylor's is .8856.
And the Bears look primed to pass the Buckeyes next week — if they can get through their toughest test yet. Baylor plays at Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Cowboys are 10th in the BCS standings and a game behind the Bears in the Big 12 standings. The Bears play at TCU on Thanksgiving weekend and then close with Texas at home.
Ohio State plays Indiana next week, then goes to Michigan. The Buckeyes can clinch a spot in the Big Ten championship game by beating the Hoosiers. Michigan State would be the likely opponent in that game.
Oregon is fifth in the standings and Auburn is sixth. Both have one loss. The Tigers have moved into position to be a threat in the national championship race. Their only game left is against No. 1 Alabama in two weeks and it's for a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game. Winning the SEC title might not be enough to get Auburn past undefeated Baylor or Ohio State, but it'll make for an interesting decision for poll voters if it plays out that way.
The SEC has won the last seven national championships and its title game has become a default play-in game to the BCS title game.
Further down the standings, potential BCS busters Fresno State at 15th and Northern Illinois at 16th each dropped a spot this week. Either the Bulldogs or Huskies could earn an automatic bid by reaching the top-12 in the final standings. If they both get there, the highest rated one gets the bid.
Central Florida, which is leading the American Athletic Conference, is 18th and that could open the backdoor for a BCS buster, the way it did last season for NIU.
If Fresno State and NIU can finish in the top 16 and rank ahead of the AAC's champ, the highest ranked one gets an automatic bid.
The key for each is staying unbeaten. Fresno State finishes with New Mexico at home, at San Jose State and a possible rematch with Boise State in the Mountain West conference title game.
Northern Illinois is at Toledo and then home for Western Michigan before a possible Mid-American Conference championship game with either Buffalo or Bowling Green.
BUCKEYES BUZZ: A game looks differently from different perspectives.
For instance, Ohio State's 60-35 win at Illinois on Saturday was either a valiant comeback by an undertalented team or a steamroller-like victory by an unbeaten squad. Of course, there are also shadings on each of those opinions as well.
Illinois (3-7, 0-6 Big Ten) coach Tim Beckman was displeased that his team fell behind 28-0, thrilled it fought back to 47-35 in the fourth quarter, and unhappy that his team then allowed the Buckeyes to tack on two long Carlos Hyde runs (51 and 55 yards) for touchdowns in the waning moments.
"To start off, (Ohio State) is a good football team. No question about it. They've got some skilled athletes, very well-coached," he said. "I thought our players battled to the dang end; they never came up short, they continued to fight. Probably the last three or four minutes, as I told them, were disappointing times but I was proud of the way they competed and proud of the way this coaching staff coached it. We've got two remaining football games and we want our seniors to leave winners and to win that football game that is necessary for them to get this losing streak done. They've worked extremely hard."
The loss was the Illini's 20th straight in Big Ten play.
Illini QB Nathan Scheelhaase completed 33 of 50 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.
He fell back on another sport to provide his unique perspective.
"You look at it from a boxing standpoint, we came out and they knocked us down twice in part of the first two rounds," he said. "I was just so happy with the way we responded. I mean we stood up and we fought until the 15th round."
Then there was the Buckeyes' viewpoint. First and foremost, they won. At times they didn't look perfect, particularly on defense, but they got to the finish line with their 10th straight win this season (10-0, 6-0). It was also Ohio State's 22nd consecutive victory overall, tying a school record.
Coach Urban Meyer said the big thing this week against Indiana (4-6, 2-4) will be to tune out all the noise about polls, rankings and the BCS.
"We have to make sure that our focus is on getting better each week instead of all of the national stuff," Meyer said. "I think I'm learning a lesson to just shut my mouth and quit worrying about this and that. Let's get a little better. We're down 11 players for the year. Our special teams are a little bit of a mess right now. Some of the guys playing right now, quite frankly, haven't played at all; and as a result, we just have to coach better."
POLL DANCING: The Buckeyes dropped a spot, to No. 4, in The Associated Press Top 25 media poll. Baylor traded positions to move to No. 3.
They held the No. 3 spot, but barely, in the USA Today coaches' poll, which is a component of the Bowl Championship Series rankings that determine the two teams who will play in the national championship game.
HYDE AWAY: Hyde had the biggest day of his college career, totaling 246 yards on 24 carries — and average of 10.2 yards per attempt — and four TDs. He also two passes for 26 yards and another score.
"A win is a win, but I'm not pleased with the way we performed today," he said. "(To) get where we want to go this year, we have to get better. We can't focus too much on our opponent's records; we just need to focus on what's good for us and that's getting better in practice. We need to play our game no matter who our opponent is."
THE WEEK AHEAD: It'll be an interesting week around the nation, starting with a rare Wednesday night game in the Buckeye state when Toledo hosts No. 20 Northern Illinois.
The premier game of the week will pit No. 3 Baylor against No. 11 Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla.
Elsewhere in the Top 10, top-ranked Alabama hosts Chattanooga, No. 2 Florida State welcomes Idaho, No. 5 Oregon visits Arizona, No. 7 Clemson hosts The Citadel, No. 8 Missouri is at No. 24 Mississippi, ninth-ranked Texas A&M plays at No. 18 LSU and 10th-ranked Stanford, which lost at Southern Cal on Saturday night, hosts Cal.
B1G GAMES: Around the Big Ten, No. 13 Michigan State visits Northwestern, No. 16 Wisconsin is at Minnesota, Nebraska travels to Penn State, Michigan is at Iowa and Illinois heads for Purdue.