- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Without even scoring a point, Ohio State picked up one of its most significant victories of the season.
Now it’s within one spot of a berth in the national championship.
Sitting at home on the second bye week of the season, resting and recharging for the final three weeks of the regular season and a likely appearance in the Big Ten title game, the Buckeyes finally received some of the help they’ve been waiting for from around the country. They didn’t get everything they needed, but Oregon’s loss allowed them to move up to No. 3 when the latest BCS standings were released on Sunday, putting the Buckeyes one step closer and one step away from a chance to play for the crystal football.
“The chase is on, man,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said last week with an eye on the weekend. “It’s real. Our goal is to get to November and be competing for something.
“So, absolutely, it’s on.”
The Buckeyes have been in the middle of the race all along, and in some ways they remain in the same position they were in before the Ducks fell on the road against Stanford.
There is still no margin for error for Ohio State, and one loss would be a knockout blow for its title hopes as it tries to keep pace with top-ranked Alabama and Florida State. It still isn’t getting much help from around the Big Ten, though No. 22 Wisconsin and No. 16 Michigan State both moved up in the latest standings. The bump for the Badgers continues to make Ohio State's win in September look better with each passing week, and if the Spartans continue to rise, they could set up a huge showdown in Indianapolis with the conference crown on the line.
But despite moving up a spot, the Buckeyes have a couple teams starting to breathe down their necks with No. 4 Stanford and No. 5 Baylor both notching impressive wins and building strong cases of their own, keeping it important to not only win but do so in eye-catching fashion when Ohio State takes on overmatched teams like Illinois on Saturday.
3dDan Murphy and Mitch Sherman
3dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
4dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy