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Oklahoma State making strides

Can Oklahoma State catch No. 2 Alabama in the BCS standings?

The Pokes, who didn't play this past weekend, moved to No. 3 in the BCS standings released on Sunday night, after then-No. 3 Arkansas was walloped 41-17 at No. 1 LSU on Friday. The Cowboys still trail the Crimson Tide by .0839 points, which is a little bit less than last week's .1083-point deficit.

But if you look deeper into the BCS standings, you'll see that the Cowboys made even more progress in the Harris Poll and USA Today coaches' poll. A week ago, the Crimson Tide had a 748-point advantage over the Pokes in total votes in the two human polls. Alabama's lead was trimmed to 508 points this week, which is still a pretty big advantage with only one week to go in college football's regular season.

The human polls make up two-thirds of the BCS formula and a team's average in six computer polls make up the other one-third. The top two teams in the final BCS standings released on Dec. 4 will play in the Jan. 9 Allstate BCS National Championship Game in the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

At this point, it seems pretty clear that No. 1 LSU will play for a BCS national championship, even if it doesn't beat No. 14 Georgia in Saturday's SEC championship game at Atlanta's Georgia Dome. The Tigers have a perfect 1.000 BCS average and are ranked No. 1 in both human polls and each of the six computer ratings.

The Crimson Tide finished its regular season with an 11-1 record after beating rival Auburn 42-14 on Saturday. Alabama lost to LSU 9-6 in overtime at home on Nov. 5.

Oklahoma State plays host to No. 10 Oklahoma in the Bedlam game in Stillwater, Okla., on Saturday. If the Pokes win, voters will have to decide whether they want to see an SEC West rematch in the BCS championship game, or elevate the Cowboys past Alabama in their final ballots.

The Cowboys and Crimson Tide also are rated very close in the six computer ratings. Alabama is No. 2 in four of the six computer ratings and Oklahoma State is No. 2 in the other two. Neither team is ranked worse than No. 3 in each of the six computer ratings.

A few other BCS observations:

• Michigan's 40-34 victory over Ohio State ended a seven-year losing streak to the Buckeyes, but it didn't do much to boost the Wolverines' BCS rating. In fact, the Wolverines actually fell from No. 15 to No. 16 in the latest BCS standings, after Wisconsin jumped them.

But Michigan still seems like a safe bet to grab a BCS at-large berth -- possibly an invitation to play No. 6 Houston in the Jan. 3 Allstate Sugar Bowl -- after finishing 10-2 under first-year coach Brady Hoke.

The No. 15 Badgers play No. 13 Michigan State in the inaugural Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis on Saturday. The losing team figures to drop out of the top 14 of the BCS standings, which would leave the winner as the only Big Ten team ranked in the top 14.

Under BCS rules, a team must finish in the top 14 of the final BCS standings to be considered for a BCS at-large berth -- unless there's only one team from its conference in the top 14. So if only one Big Ten team finishes in the top 14 of the final BCS standings, Michigan could still receive an at-large bid as long as it finishes in the top 18.

• Stanford jumped Virginia Tech for No. 4 in the BCS standings after defeating Notre Dame 28-14 on Saturday night. The Cardinal, which won't play in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game, will receive an automatic BCS at-large berth if it finishes in the top four in the final BCS standings.

• A Big East team finally cracked the BCS standings with West Virginia coming in at No. 23. If West Virginia, Cincinnati and Louisville finish in a three-way tie for first place in the Big East standings after next week’s games, the tiebreaker would be decided by highest BCS standing.