RALPH D. RUSSO
AP College Football Writer
Florida State took firm hold of second place in the BCS standings behind top-ranked Alabama and grabbed the inside track to the national championship game.
The Seminoles were second last week, but seemed likely to get passed by Oregon if the Ducks could have remained unbeaten. Stanford, however, handed Oregon its first loss of the season Thursday night and Florida State benefited.
The Seminoles (.9619) are a solid second in the USA Today coaches' poll and Harris poll, and second in the computer rankings that make up the final third of a BCS average.
Ohio State (.8926) is third in the polls but fourth in the computers. The Buckeyes are closer to fourth-place Stanford (.8689) than Florida State.
Unbeaten Baylor (.8618) is fifth, not far behind the Cardinal (.8689).
But Florida State and Alabama appear headed for a BCS championship game matchup if they can avoid being upset.
"Just win," BCS analyst Jerry Palm of CBS.com said about Florida State. "They control their own destiny now. Just win."
Florida State's 51-14 victory against Clemson in the middle of October sent the Seminoles surging past Ohio State in the polls. The Buckeyes haven't had a chance to change the momentum because they haven't played ranked opponents since beating Wisconsin and Northwestern in back-to-back weeks in late September and early October.
"Ohio State never had a game where they could get some juice with the voters, get the voters' attention." Palm said.
Palm said that it's likely if Alabama or Florida State -- or both -- stumble it would be Ohio State or Baylor moving into the top two spots and not one-loss Stanford.
"The problem is Baylor and Ohio State are ahead of Stanford in the polls and eventually the BCS standings will reflect that," he said.
Unbeaten Fresno State of the Mountain West moved up to No. 14. The Bulldogs need a top-12 finish to secure the so-called BCS buster bid as an automatic qualifier from a non-AQ conference. They also need to be the highest rated non-AQ champion.
Undefeated Northern Illinois of the Mid-American Conference is 15th and trying to be a BCS Buster for the second straight season.
Neither team can afford a loss, but Palm said attrition along should get Fresno State and NIU into final top-12 if they can win out.
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