COLUMBUS — With a miraculous last-second win over Georgia and arguably the biggest Iron Bowl in recent memory on Saturday looming against arch-rival Alabama, No.4 Auburn could vault themselves into the 2013 BCS Championship Game.
While the No.3 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes have a big game in Ann Arbor against arch-rival Michigan, the one-loss Tigers, thanks to a win over Alabama could either leapfrog Ohio State–or at the very least–close the gap in the BCS computer standings.
Is there a solid and legitimate argument for Auburn leapfrogging an unbeaten Ohio State team that has won 23 straight games simply because they play in the always top-heavy SEC?
But, is it valid? Possibly.
With a slight edge over the Tigers in points, .9200 to .8236, the Buckeyes have played less than impressive competition in beating two mid-ranked teams from the Big Ten in No.23 Wisconsin and No.16 Northwestern, by less than impressive margins.
By contrast, Auburn has beaten four ranked teams–two of them in the top ten–in the form of No. 6 LSU, No.7 Texas A&M, No.24 Ole Miss and the aforementioned 25th-ranked Bulldogs. Auburn’s “style points” were not nearly as impressive as Ohio State’s in beating their ranked opponents by an average of seven, compared to the Buckeyes margin of victory being 8.5, but thanks to the national perception of the Big 10 being both down and a perennial flop in bowl games, Auburn could very well jump the Bucks.
Could a win over the No.11 Michigan State Spartans and their fourth-ranked defense in the Big 10 Championship Game help the Buckeyes?
Maybe. But it must be decisive.
Fans and members of the media could argue that while Auburn’s wins were less than impressive based on margin, the Tigers overall body of work is simply better than the Buckeyes. Unfortunately, if you are a Buckeyes fan, these are words you do not want to hear, but it is the truth. Playing in the SEC gives teams an unfair advantage in the polls, even one-loss teams such as Auburn.
The only thing that Ohio State fans can hope for is an Auburn win over Alabama followed by a loss in the SEC Championship Game, couple with a dominating Buckeyes win over the stingy Spartans.
Other than that, Buckeye fans can most likely expect to be the proverbial odd man out in Pasadena.