By The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Rarely better than No. 2 in its own state, Oklahoma State is now the Big 12’s best bet to play for a national championship.
The Cowboys moved up to third Sunday in the BCS standings, replacing rival Oklahoma as the team behind LSU and Alabama best positioned to reach the national title game. It’s Oklahoma State’s best showing in the BCS standings.
Two championship contenders lost for the first time Saturday, when Oklahoma and Wisconsin went down.
That cleared some of the traffic atop the standings and left Oklahoma State, fourth-place Boise State, fifth-place Clemson and sixth-place Stanford in a tight race.
First-place LSU and second-place Alabama will play on Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa. The winner will have the inside track to reach the BCS championship game in New Orleans.
The Southeastern Conference has had at least one team first or second in 26 of the last 27 standings, dating to Dec. 2, 2007.
Oklahoma, which lost at home to 41-38 to Texas Tech, dropped to ninth and Wisconsin, which lost on the last play 37-31 at Michigan State, fell to 15th.
The BCS standings use the coaches’ poll, the Harris poll and a compilation of six computer ratings to determine which teams play in the five marquee bowls, including the championship game.
Oklahoma State was ranked first in the computer rankings, third in the Harris poll and fourth in the coaches’ poll for a BCS average of .9240.
Boise State was at .8302, Clemson was .8240 and Stanford .8124.
For now, they are chasing the Cowboys, hoping for them to slip up.
Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and the high-scoring Cowboys have already won three conference road games, including a 45-24 victory at Missouri on Saturday.
“I just think our team plays with a lot of confidence,” coach Mike Gundy said after the Missouri game. “We have a number of guys that have been in battle and had success, and we’ve been fortunate.”
The Cowboys return home for the next two weeks to play Baylor and undefeated Kansas State, which is eighth in the BCS standings heading into its next game against Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State also has road games at Texas Tech and Iowa State before finishing the season at home against the Sooners.
It’s a schedule that looks strong enough to keep Oklahoma State ahead of Stanford, Clemson and Boise State, though if all of those teams finish unbeaten the BCS won’t have enough spots in the championship game for all the teams that can claim to be worthy of being picked.
AP Sports Writer RB Fallstrom in Columbia, Mo., contributed to this report.