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Experts differ on Buckeyes’ chances at BCS bowl berth

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Following Saturday’s 38-14 win over Penn State, No. 9 Ohio State was stagnant in the BCS ranks, along with the rest of the top 10. But that doesn’t mean things didn’t change.

Rece Davis of ESPN is a strong believer of the same “chaos” theory that brought the Buckeyes to the national title game in 2007. He thinks it could happen again, and the first step was Utah falling to Notre Dame 28-3 last Saturday. TCU, ranked No. 3 in the BCS, beat Utah 47-7 one week earlier.

“I think that people have re-evaluated TCU’s resume,” Davis said in a phone interview with The Lantern. “So what that’s done, I think, is it’s opened the door for some of the one-loss teams.

“It’s not a high percentage of a chance, but I think there is a chance. Should (TCU and No. 4 Boise State) lose, then you have complete and utter chaos that would be in line with what happened in 2007.”

That year, a series of upsets propelled OSU from No. 7 in the BCS to No. 1 in a span of three weeks.

For Davis’ theory to come to fruition, three of the four remaining undefeated teams — Oregon, Auburn, TCU and Boise State — would likely have to lose. OSU would have to win impressively this weekend in Iowa, and Wisconsin would have to falter in one of its two final games against Northwestern or Michigan.

It would then be up to the BCS to jump the Buckeyes ahead of No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Stanford and No. 8 Nebraska.

Davis said he would give the Buckeyes the nod over other one-loss teams because they had been ranked No. 1 before losing to Wisconsin.

He said he expects No. 2 Auburn to struggle with Alabama and then South Carolina in the SEC Championship game.

He also said Oregon State could give Oregon a run for its money in the annual “Civil War” game, and said a Boise State loss to No. 18 Nevada is a “possibility.”

Jerry Palm of CBS Sports said the only way the Buckeyes would go to the National Championship game is if every team ahead of them lost.

“I never really thought Ohio State was going to get a lot of juice from (beating) Iowa anyway,” he said. “But giving (the Hawkeyes) their fourth loss instead of their third loss diminishes that,” he said, referring to Iowa’s third loss of the season last week, which came against Northwestern.

In his weekly bowl projections, Palm has OSU playing in the Capital One Bowl, Michigan State playing in the Rose Bowl and Wisconsin playing in the Sugar Bowl.

If the Buckeyes win the rest of their games, they are guaranteed at least a share of the Big Ten Title — an honor that could help their case for a BCS game.

Coach Jim Tressel doesn’t quite buy into what goes into the BCS’ evaluation of teams.

“If style points are important with what we have ahead, we’re in trouble, because there’s not going to be much style going into the ball game we’re getting ready to play,” Tressel said of Saturday’s game in Iowa City.

Another bizarre twist to the Big Ten race this year is that OSU and Michigan State do not play each other.

“Typically, if you miss Ohio State on your schedule, you’ll be jumping up and down,” Davis said. “Preseason, I’m sure Michigan State said, ‘Well, OK, we missed the Buckeyes.’ Now the shoe is on the other foot for both teams. They sort of needed each other and they’re not playing.”

Davis said he expects the Sugar Bowl to be “all over Ohio State” if the Buckeyes win out and do not earn a spot in the Rose Bowl.

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