By Kevin McGuire
The path to Pasadena is all clear now for Alabama and Florida State. Following another weekend of domination after Oregon stumbled on the road against Stanford, the Crimson Tide and Seminoles are now in position to collide in the BCS Championship Game in January, and there is nothing Ohio State or Baylor can do about it.
It feels weird to suggest that an undefeated Ohio State team could have absolutely no shot to play in the national championship game, but that is the reality staring down at the Buckeyes right now following the release of the latest BCS standings Sunday night. There is nothing in the BCS standings that would suggest right now that there is any chance Ohio State can make up enough ground or pass Alabama or Florida State before the final standings determine which two teams will play in the BCS Championship. Ohio State is ranked behind both schools in every ranking used in the BCS formula and the Buckeyes are at least two spots behind in every computer ranking used except for one. According to the computers, one-loss Stanford is the better team in five of the seven computer models, but Ohio State still has the human polls in their favor.
A BCS title bout between Alabama and Florida State would be fantastic. In one corner you would have two-time defending Alabama, winners of three of the last four, with AJ McCarron, TJ Yeldon and a monster of defense with players like CJ Mosley and HaHa Clinton-Dix all coached by Nick Saban, already with a strong case for one of the best ever. In the other corner is a former national giant once again looking to stay on top of the college football world led by this year’s freshman sensation at quarterback, Jameis Winston, and a team coached in as close to a style as Saban that the ACC can offer. Nobody would complain about seeing Alabama and Florida State, except Ohio State.
For as good as a match-up between Alabama and Florida State would be, a match-up with Alabama and Ohio State would be especially fitting for the final BCS Championship Game in the format’s history. The build-up and hype for two of the top BCS Championship Era programs would be full of story lines, and the Buckeyes would bring a cast of characters worthy of the stage with Urban Meyer knowing a thing or two about the BCS Championship and players like Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, Bradley Roby and Ryan Shazier. Unfortunately for fans in Columbus, Ohio State going 25-0 under Meyer may not be good enough this year (it will be next year).
Baylor fans know the feeling too, and the Bears may have even less of a chance to dance in Pasadena. Baylor is sitting behind Ohio State in five of the seven computer rankings and each of the human polls used for the BCS standings. Baylor may have the advantage with its strength of schedule the rest of the way in the regular season, but if Ohio State dominates its final games the way it did with the previous two (Penn State and Purdue), it may not be enough to pass Ohio State. At least Ohio State is in position to go to Pasadena, although it will be as the Big Ten champion in the Rose Bowl, where the team may be set to play against Pac 12 champion Stanford.
Ohio State fans may never be bigger fans of Auburn of Florida than they are now. The two play Alabama and Florida State, respectively, in the final week of the regular season as the biggest obstacles before conference championship weekend.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.