Who should be No. 2 in the BCS standings? Conventional wisdom says Ohio State, because it is undefeated.
But should the Buckeyes’ unblemished record be the only thing we take into consideration?
Auburn (11-1) does have one loss, a 35-21 setback at LSU. But the Tigers have been all but flawless since then, beating Mississippi, Georgia, Texas A&M and Alabama during an eight-game winning streak.
Ohio State (12-0) meanwhile, has dominated what most consider a watered-down Big Ten. The Buckeyes’ wins over Wisconsin and Northwestern don’t mean nearly as much as they did earlier this season.
Northwestern (5-7) finished out of bowl contention and have just one conference win, while Wisconsin lost in heart-breaking fashion to a visiting Penn State team. Ohio State does have wins over Iowa and Michigan. But neither team is a major power these days.
The importance of strength of conference schedule was made evident in the Associated Press poll on Sunday as Auburn received two first-place votes, meaning there are some who believe the Tigers should be No. 1.
Don’t worry Florida State fans. If the Seminoles (12-0) take care of Duke next weekend, they are guaranteed to be the No. 1 team in the final BCS standings. But the power of the SEC cannot be overlooked. Considered the top conference in the country, fourth, fifth and sixth-place SEC programs like Texas A&M, Mississippi State and Mississippi are believed to be better than second or third place teams in other major conferences.
Ohio State’s non-conference schedule: Buffalo, San Diego State, California, Florida A&M. Normally, you could stop there and use that as the reason Ohio State should be No. 3 and not second.
Not so fast.
Auburn’s non-conference schedule: Washington State, Arkansas State, Western Carolina, Florida Atlantic. SEC teams don’t generally play killer non-conference schedules. Auburn didn’t exactly have to travel through the non-conference gauntlet of death, so an argument can be made that the Tigers should be no higher than No. 3.
It is a debate that won’t end anytime soon.