If you've been paying attention since Auburn's thrilling upset victory over Alabama, previously the #1 team in the nation, you've noticed that many are questioning whether or not a one-loss Auburn team should be ranked more highly than Ohio State in the BCS standings.
It's not a difficult question to answer. Auburn has a loss on its record this season, a 35-21 setback to LSU. The LSU Tigers have three losses this season, one to Alabama, and also one each to Ole Miss and Georgia, teams that were previously ranked but fell apart as the season progressed. The Buckeyes, on the other hand, haven't lost since the 2012 Gator Bowl. The voters, and the computers, are very easily swayed by a loss.
In fact, it can be argued that the people who are asking whether or not Ohio State should fall beneath Auburn (or Missouri) in the rankings are asking the wrong question. The real question here is: Why is Ohio State ranked second behind Florida State?
Yes, FSU is undefeated. They are a dynamic, exciting team. They beat Clemson, currently ranked 13th in the nation, as well as Florida, an SEC team. However, aside from the Clemson and Florida wins, and beating Florida is a dubious achievement at best this season, one could pay the same compliments to Ohio State.
In addition to wins and losses, the voters and the computers care very much about strength of schedule, and Ohio State's strength of schedule is admittedly not the greatest. Nobody is trying to act like the Big Ten is the best conference in college football. However, Ohio State did beat one ranked opponent, 21st-ranked Wisconsin, severely limiting its explosive run game. Ohio State will take on the only other ranked Big Ten team in the Big Ten championship game this weekend, 10th-ranked Michigan State. The average rank of Ohio State's two ranked opponents is 15.5.
FSU has, as mentioned previously, beaten 13th ranked Clemson, a two-loss team. They will face 20th-ranked Duke in the ACC Championship this weekend. The average rank of FSU's ranked opponents is 16.5.
And then you have the Sagarin rankings for strength of schedule. Ohio State's schedule is the 61st-hardest in NCAA football. Florida State's schedule comes in at 66.
This season, Florida State has played and has beaten four FBS schools with winning records. Ohio State, on the other hand, has beaten six.
And while Florida State certainly has those prized "style points," outscoring opponents by an average of 53.7-11, Ohio State is no slouch, with an average margin of victory of 48.2-20.3.
The "Ohio State versus the SEC" narrative is going to persist, and its roots stem from the overall perception of the Big Ten, to residual animosity toward Urban Meyer, to just plain old SEC bias. But whether or not Auburn, or even Missouri, should jump Ohio State in the rankings isn't the relevant question. Assuming all other things equal (and wins by both Florida State and Ohio State), whether or not the Buckeyes should be the top team in the nation is the question to ask.