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Published: 10/19/2009

Buckeyes not among BCS uncertainties

Terrelle Pryor got one thing right on Saturday.

"Right now, we've just got to be worried about the Big Ten," Ohio State's quarterback said after a 26-18 loss at Purdue, "because the national championship game is gone."

You think?

The Buckeyes had best be worried about the Big Ten because they still have games against Iowa, Penn State, and, yes, even Michigan. Nothing is automatic now because the offense has officially been declared inept.

The OSU attack was just limping along as it was, but deficiencies are often colored by winning. It's a different story when one of the worst teams in any of the BCS conferences holds the Buckeyes to 66 net rushing yards and forces five turnovers.

Speaking of the BCS, the first standings came out late yesterday and Buckeye fans at least will be spared all of the national grief their heroes would have received had they "Boiler'd" up, not down, and been positioned for another run at a title game.

Purdue took care of that. The Buckeyes instead came in with the No. 19 ranking. Yes, Terrelle, the national championship is l-o-n-g gone.

But there is plenty of other fodder for debate in a list that has Florida, Alabama, and Texas leading the way, in that order.

Those top three will sort out, if by no other manner than the potential of an SEC championship game that might match Florida and 'Bama. There's no scenario where both could go undefeated, so Texas isn't in a bad spot at No. 3, providing the Longhorns can keep churning out victories, even unimpressive ones like Saturday's 16-13 decision over a crippled Oklahoma squad.

(In the first 11 years of the BCS, teams ranked Nos. 1-2 in the first list have advanced to face one another in the title game only once. It looks as if that trend will be repeated.)

After the top three, though, it gets interesting. Does anybody really, truly believe that No. 4 Boise State and No. 5 Cincinnati should be ranked so high and positioned for a title run?

The Bearcats' win last week at South Florida was by far their most impressive in a 6-0 start. Four of UC's next five games, including a meeting with once-beaten West Virginia, are at home, and the Big East race could come down to a season-ender at Pitt.

Boise, of the Big West, which is the Big East Lite, has beaten one ranked team - Oregon was No. 16 in the opening week of the season when Boise won 19-8 at home - among its six opponents, to date, and the rest of the schedule is as soft and sweet as cotton candy.

None of that is good news for No. 6 Iowa and/or No. 7 USC, which will now subject us repeatedly to its annual reminder that the best one-loss team merits a better fate.

So do college football fans, who deserve a real playoff system, not this contrived mumbo-jumbo of points and averages, to determine a national champion.

In the absence of a playoff, though, we have the BCS, whose standings are determined by a collaboration of the USA Today Coaches' Poll and the Harris Interactive Poll, both voted on by humans, and six computer ranking services. Reportedly, five of them are programmed by humans and one by farm animals.

The computers like Iowa; the human pollsters not so much. The Hawkeyes are No. 3 in the computer average, but are No. 7 in the Harris poll and eighth in the USA Today poll. The humans, perhaps, didn't notice that Iowa has won on the road against both Penn State and Wisconsin. Or, more likely, we're back to the premise that polls are unfair to those teams that far exceed preseason expectations and are forced to play catch-up all season.

Nobody asked for my top five, but here it is anyway. In order, the Hack Interactive Matrix likes Alabama, Florida, Texas, USC, and Iowa. You can flip the top two and the bottom two and we won't waste breath arguing.

I know. When it comes to

the BCS, not arguing is anti-American.

Contact Blade sports columnist

Dave Hackenberg at:

dhack@theblade.com

or 419-724-6398.



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