Buckeyes Can Breathe Easy At No. 3

Last week, Ohio State barely held off Baylor for third place in the BCS standings. This time, the Buckeyes have no such worries, leading fourth-place Auburn by nearly a tenth of a point in the list released Sunday night. CBSSports.com BCS guru Jerry Palm says the Buckeyes have no chance of being passed by a one-loss squad, SEC or otherwise.

Ohio State dispatched Indiana by a handy 42-14 margin on Saturday, but its biggest triumph may have come in the form of losses by both Baylor and Oregon.

Baylor, previously undefeated, fell to Oklahoma State, 49-17, effectively ending any shot the Bears had to claim the BCS Championship. Baylor had climbed to within 13-thousandths of Ohio State in the rankings released on Nov. 17. Oregon, a one-loss team with a shot at inserting itself into the national title race, disappeared from the BCS picture altogether with a blowout loss at the hands of Rich Rodriguez-led Arizona.

The Buckeyes (.920) kept their third-place ranking in the latest BCS standings, but this time they have the benefit of a nearly unsurpassable cushion – at least for the time being. While they held off Baylor by a fractional margin in the previous edition, the Buckeyes hold a lead nearing a tenth of a point over fourth-place Auburn (.824).

Alabama (.988) maintained its top spot, while Florida State (.970) followed in second. Ohio State and Auburn were followed by Missouri (.808), Clemson (.773), Oklahoma State (.762), Stanford (.667), Baylor (.646) and South Carolina (.610) to round out the top 10. Michigan State (.578) trailed closely behind in 11th, while Wisconsin (.445) checked in at 15th to give Ohio State two opponents in the top 15.

Ohio State moved up from fourth to third in the Associated Press top 25 and also came in at third in both the USA Today Coaches' Poll and Harris Poll, which both figure into the BCS rankings. The Buckeyes' average computer ranking was third, as all but one of the six computer formulas slotted the Buckeyes into the No. 3 slot.

With No. 4 Auburn taking on No. 1 Alabama on Saturday, there exists the possibility that the much-needed help in the form of a Crimson Tide loss could also end up coming back to haunt the Buckeyes. However, BCS guru Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com doesn't believe that OSU could be jumped by a one-loss foe.

"Let's be clear about one thing though," he wrote in an article titled BCS Projections: Battle for No. 3 is over. "Ohio State will hold off a one loss SEC champion, and anyone else for that matter."

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