COLLEGE FOOTBALL Ohio State and Miami on a collision course



If the Buckeyes and Hurricanes win the rest of their games, they will play for the national championship.
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Ohio State is no longer concerned with polls and computer rankings.
The Buckeyes control their own fate and this much is clear -- they will play Miami for the national championship if both teams win the remainder of their games.
The No. 2 Buckeyes moved another step closer to the Fiesta Bowl with a 10-6 win Saturday at Purdue. With Oklahoma losing to Texas A & amp;M 30-26, and No. 1 Miami routing Tennessee 26-3, it appears the Hurricanes and Buckeyes are on course for a trip to Tempe, Ariz.
Miami and Ohio State are the only unbeaten major college teams, and the Buckeyes were slightly ahead of the Hurricanes in last week's Bowl Championship Series rankings. The final BCS rankings will determine who plays in the Fiesta Bowl.
First objective
Ohio State is first concentrating on the Big Ten title.
If Ohio State loses and No. 6 Iowa wins out, the Hawkeyes would win the league title. If the Buckeyes beat Illinois next week and win their season finale at home against Michigan, the worst they can do is go to the Rose Bowl.
The Buckeyes (6-0 Big Ten) are off to their fourth 11-0 start in team history, joining the 1975, 1979 and 1995 teams.
"We have a chance to go out next week and play a good Illinois team and leave there 12-0," quarterback Craig Krenzel said. "It's where we wanted to be."
When the new BCS standings are released tonight, one-loss teams such as Washington State, Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa will be lined up behind Miami and Ohio State. All are ready to stake claim to a BCS national title game spot in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3 if either the Hurricanes (9-0) or Buckeyes (11-0) slip up.
Ground rules clear
But for the first time this season, the ground rules are clear -- Miami and Ohio State will play for the national championship if they win the rest of their games. Who knows, there may not be a nasty word uttered about the BCS system the rest of the season.
Two weeks ago, there were eight unbeaten teams. Four lost -- Georgia, North Carolina State, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech. On Saturday, Bowling Green joined Oklahoma as a first-time loser, NC State and Virginia Tech lost again and Notre Dame needed a fourth-quarter rally to beat one-win Navy 30-23.
The Hurricanes reclaimed the No. 1 spot in the AP media poll on Sunday after an overpowering 26-3 win at Tennessee. But they still have to play No. 18 Pittsburgh (8-2) on Nov. 21, travel to improving Syracuse (4-6) on Nov. 30 and finish at home against No. 13 Virginia Tech (8-2). Miami remained No. 1 in the latest coaches poll.
Of course, what's the BCS without a little controversy, so here's something to ponder if the top teams win out: Notre Dame, Texas or Iowa will get shut out of a BCS bowl game.
Only 2 at-large berths
With six conference champions gaining automatic spots in four BCS bowls, that leaves only two at-large berths open. If Ohio State wins out, Iowa would be in line to play in the Rose Bowl as co-Big Ten champs with the Buckeyes. But the spot depends on where the Hawkeyes finish in the final BCS standings.
In Texas' case, Oklahoma can still win the Big 12 title and gain an automatic bid. That would leave the Longhorns hoping for a favorable final BCS ranking for an open spot in the Sugar Bowl.
And then there's Notre Dame, which does not play in a conference. The Fighting Irish are the strongest draw, but they, too, need a favorable ranking to make either the Rose or Sugar.

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