Buckeyes Third In BCS By Slimmest Of Margins

Ohio State managed to remain in the Bowl Championship Series hunt, coming in at third behind Alabama and Florida State when the rankings were unveiled Sunday night. However, Baylor cut the deficit to a razor-thin margin, leaving the Buckeyes wondering if they can hold off the Bears in the event that both programs continue to remain undefeated.

Even in a runaway 60-35 victory against Illinois, the Ohio State football team can't seem to escape the stigma of its schedule. In what has become a weekly occurrence, Baylor once against gained ground on the Buckeyes, tightening the race for position among teams hoping for a slipup from the Bowl Championship Series frontrunners.

The Buckeyes managed to keep their third-place spot in the BCS rankings – at least for this week – but the gap between them and the unbeaten Bears has shrunk with each passing week. The latest tightening of the BCS ratings comes on the heels of nearly identically dominating wins, although Baylor faced a slightly more competent (albeit unranked) foe in Texas Tech.

Junior wide receiver Evan Spencer caused a stir on Monday with his comments that the Buckeyes would "wipe the field" with top BCS teams, and Meyer sought to eliminate national distractions from his team's mindset following the win over the Fighting Illini.

"We have to win a game," Meyer said. "Quit worrying about all this stuff, style points or whatever, and just go win. It's still football. There's still a bunch of scholarship athletes on the other side. There's a really good quarterback on the other side. Let's just go. If our focus is on that, we're pretty good. When it goes somewhere else, it's not good."

Ohio State (.887) remained third, and the scores of top-ranked Alabama (.991) and No. 2 Florida State continued to confirm that only a loss from either of those two squads would send the Buckeyes to the BCS Championship. Baylor (.886) climbed up to the No. 4 position, replacing Stanford following its loss to USC and just one-thousandth of a point behind the Buckeyes. Oregon (.792) moved up to fifth and Auburn (.786) seized the sixth spot in the wake of its last-minute win against Georgia.

Big Ten foes Michigan State (.465) and Wisconsin (.291) came in at 13th and 19th, respectively, while Minnesota (.060) made its BCS debut at 25th. Wisconsin is the only BCS top 25 team that the Buckeyes have defeated, but they would likely face either Michigan State or Minnesota in the conference championship game.

Ohio State once again ceded ground in a majority of the three national polls, dropping votes in the Associated Press Top 25, USA Today Coaches' Poll' but gaining two votes in the Harris Poll. In the USA Today Coaches' Poll and Harris Poll, the Buckeyes managed to maintain their third-place standing. In the AP Poll, however, Baylor jumped ahead of OSU with an eight-point advantage for third place.

Baylor still has games against No. 10 Oklahoma State as well as TCU and Texas left, while Ohio State will face off against Indiana and Michigan before competing in the Big Ten title game if it can secure a berth.

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