With another week of college football in the books, Ohio State is poised for a repeat BCS title berth.
With only Illinois and Michigan remaining, the Buckeyes have the talent and coaching to defeat both teams. The question is whether they can continue to execute.
The Buckeyes were behind 17-10 in the third quarter when running back Chris Wells broke off a 31-yard touchdown run. In the fourth quarter, Wells fueled an Ohio State 21-point surge, including two more touchdown runs, for 30 and 23 yards.
Throughout the season Ohio State has let inferior opposition hang around until late. The Buckeyes can get away with such behavior with Illinois coming to town, but it would be a crucial mistake to underestimate Michigan on the road.
Ohio State running back Chris Wells ran past Wisconsin defensive lineman Mike Newkirk during the third quarter Saturday in Columbus, Ohio.
The Illini's simplistic offense relies heavily on misdirection and a running quarterback. It shouldn't be much of a challenge for Ohio State, whose defense is ranked first in the nation for fewest points allowed per game and least amount of total yardage per game.
Oregon and LSU battle for No. 2 spot
Unfortunately for Boston College, it rained during the Florida State game. Eagles' quarterback Matt Ryan wasn't effective, throwing three interceptions, including one in the red zone and another for a late touchdown return. Ahead the entire game, the Seminoles dictated the pace and dashed Boston College's BCS title hopes.
As a result, LSU moved up and precariously holds onto the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings. The Tigers haven't made things easy for themselves, needing a late Crimson Tide fumble to escape Alabama and former coach Nick Saban's grasp with a win.
On the other side of the country, Oregon and quarterback Dennis Dixon took undefeated Arizona State to task. The Ducks jumped ahead early and sealed the victory by the end of the third quarter.
LSU barely leads Oregon in Harris Poll and USA Today Coaches' Poll points. The Ducks have one first-place vote in the Harris compared to the Tigers' none. In the coaches' poll, Oregon has two first-place votes compared to LSU's one.
With the computers, the Bayou Bengals are comfortably ahead of the Ducks in the Sagarin, Billingsley and Massey systems. LSU has a slight lead over Oregon in Colley and Wolfe. The Ducks' only lead is in the Anderson & Hester rankings.
With strength of schedule such a crucial part of every computer system, LSU is likely to lose ground in the next couple weeks with Louisiana Tech, Ole Miss and Arkansas on tap while Oregon faces Arizona, UCLA and Oregon State.
The Colley Matrix (www.colleyrankings.com) allows users to input future games to see how it would affect its rankings. It unofficially shows that if both the Ducks and Tigers win their next two games, Oregon should overtake the Bayou Bengals.
If LSU cannot beat Louisiana Tech and Ole Miss definitively, Oregon will likely also gain enough points in the Harris and coaches' polls to overtake the Bayou Bengals.
LSU's saving grace is that Oregon may take the BCS lead at the conclusion of the next three games, but, provided the Tigers keep winning, the team will have the opportunity to play in the SEC title game. Florida used last year's SEC title game victory to springboard past Michigan. LSU could do the same.
Here comes Kansas
The entire Oregon-LSU debate may be rendered moot if the unlikely Kansas Jayhawk juggernaut can run the table and go undefeated. They have Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Missouri and if they keep winning, the Big 12 championship left on their schedule.
Despite having a perfect record, Kansas is fourth in the BCS. This is due to its weak non-conference schedule of Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International to start the season. Correspondingly, most of the computers have the Jayhawks ranked lower than LSU and Oregon.
Kansas has to prove to the nation it can keep winning and not be a pretender like Boston College or South Florida. The Jayhawks should not have any problem defeating Oklahoma State and Iowa. This should only intensify the hype for the Missouri game.
By defeating Missouri and winning the Big 12 championship, likely against Oklahoma, the human voters could elevate Kansas while its schedule strength would improve to give it a better computer ranking.
In the meantime, the Jayhawks have to concentrate on winning the games at hand.
My sister Melanie's thoughts
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy couldn't close the deal and beat Texas. I thought his head was going to explode after the loss. Maybe backup quarterback Bobby Reid's mom can calm Gundy down by feeding him some chicken ... I was worried CBS' Verne Lundquist was going to hyperventilate before the LSU-Alabama game. He was talking a mile a minute.
Before the season, my brother and I were able to buy some Illinois-Gophers tickets right behind the goalpost. We thought the game would generate some bad blood because Coach Brewster went to Illinois. Instead, it was just sad to see the Illini fake out the Gopher defense. The Minnesota marching band was terrific however. I love the "M" formation.
TREVOR WILLIAMS, sports copy editor, may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5866
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