BCS: Alabama, Fla. State lead, Baylor gains on Ohio State

Baylor Bears defensive end Shawn Oakman (2) celebrates a victory with mascot Bruiser after the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at AT&T Stadium.
  • Unbeaten Baylor closes in on No. 3 Ohio State in the latest standings.
  • The Bears will get a strength-of-schedule bump in the coming weeks.
  • Alabama and Florida State are in control at 1-2%2C as long as they win.
  • Alabama and Florida State retain the inside track to the BCS national championship game in the latest BCS standings released Sunday. But intrigue lurks just behind, where Ohio State and Baylor are battling for position should the No. 1 Crimson Tide or No. 2 Seminoles falter.

    After Stanford’s upset loss to USC, the four remaining unbeatens from major conferences are finally clustered at the top of the standings. Ohio State remained No. 3 in the BCS with a .8869 average. But Baylor is just behind at .8856 — and appears to be closing.

    The Bears could conceivably leap past the Buckeyes as early as the next update, with a victory Saturday at BCS No. 10 Oklahoma State.

    Ohio State maintained its overall position after a 60-35 victory over Illinois, but lost a little ground in the BCS average (a week ago, the Buckeyes’ average was .9039). Meanwhile, after a 60-34 victory over Texas Tech, Baylor moved up one spot to No. 4, taking the spot vacated by Stanford.

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    Ohio State is No. 3 in both the USA TODAY Sports Coaches and Harris polls, just ahead of Baylor. But the Bears benefited most from a boost by the combined computer rankings, where they’re tied for No. 3 with one-loss Auburn.

    With games left at Oklahoma State, at TCU and at home against Texas, Baylor’s strength of schedule should only improve. And the remaining schedule provides a better chance for statements to sway voters, as well, than Ohio State’s. The Buckeyes, currently ranked No. 5 in the computers, have games at home against Indiana, at Michigan and then the Big Ten championship game.

    Oregon, which beat Utah 44-21, is the highest-ranked one-loss team at No. 5 (.7917 average). Whether the Ducks would hold that distinction through the final set of rankings isn’t clear, though.

    Auburn (10-1) moved up one spot to No. 6 (.7860 average) after a dramatic 43-38 victory over Georgia. But the Tigers own that tie for the No. 3 average computer ranking (Oregon is No. 6 in the computers), and they’ll host Alabama on Nov. 30 with the SEC West — and maybe more — at stake. A victory over the Tide would further boost Auburn in the computers and would likely sway human voters, as well.

    At the very top, the gap between Alabama and Florida State narrowed slightly (the Crimson Tide’s average dropped from .9958 to .9914, while the Seminoles climbed from .9619 to .9661), but a position switch remains highly unlikely if both win out. Florida State (10-0) has games remaining with Idaho and at Florida before the ACC championship game. Alabama (10-0) finishes with Chattanooga and at Auburn, and with a victory over the Tigers, would advance to the SEC championship game.

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    George Schroeder, a national college football reporter for USA TODAY Sports, is on Twitter @GeorgeSchroeder.

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