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USC, Miami 1-2 in first BCS standings

Oklahoma, second in both human polls, comes in third by slight margin

Posted: Monday October 18, 2004 12:08PM; Updated: Monday October 18, 2004 3:48PM

Frank Gore
Frank Gore and the 'Canes received a boost from the computer polls, enough to move ahead of Oklahoma.
Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images's Stewart Mandel: Oklahoma should pass Miami if both teams win out

Miami may be No. 2 in the BCS standings this week, but Oklahoma is almost certain to steal that spot from the 'Canes if both teams win out.

The Sooners are currently being held down by low rankings in two of the five computer ratings used by the BCS (eighth in Massey, 10th in Sagarin), and only the lowest gets tossed out in the formula. The overall difference between the two teams -- .0026 -- is so slight that a move from just eighth to seventh in Massey would be enough for OU to catch Miami. Meanwhile, the 'Canes, thanks to wins over otherwise undefeated Florida State and Louisville, can't get much higher than they already are in the computers (No. 1 in two, No. 2 in two, No. 3 in the other).

"Absolutely," said's Jerry Palm when asked if the Sooners would pass Miami if both win out. "There's no way an undefeated, major conference team would be eighth [in one of the computers] at the end of the year."

Also, while Miami, currently fourth behind Auburn in the AP poll, could gain ground itself by passing the Tigers, it wouldn't do as much as in years past because the BCS formula now counts total votes rather than a team's ranking.

"It doesn't matter where you are in relation to other teams as much as votes," said Palm, "and there's only so many more votes a No. 3 team can get."

NEW YORK (AP) -- Southern California took the top spot Monday in the season's first Bowl Championship Series standings, and surprisingly Miami is ahead of Oklahoma in a close race for the second spot. (Complete standings)

Oklahoma is No. 2 behind USC in both The Associated Press Top 25 and coaches poll. Put in place after last season's split national championship, the new BCS formula relies more on the human polls than ever before.

"I think it's obviously very early. It's important that there not be an overreaction to this poll," BCS coordinator and Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg said.

Still, even Weiberg was taken aback by Miami's position ahead of Oklahoma.

"I think I was a little surprised to tell you the truth," he said.

The AP and coaches polls each count for one-third of a team's total score after the BCS. The other third is made up of a compilation of six computer rankings, and that's where Miami made up the difference over the Sooners. The Hurricanes are ranked fourth in the AP media poll and third in the coaches poll, but have the second-most points in the computer rankings.

Oklahoma, which benefited from the old system last season, was fifth in the computer rankings. Each team's highest and lowest computer ranking is tossed out before an average is reached.

Weiberg said that Oklahoma was probably hurt in the computer rankings by having played only one road game.

"Several of them use a home-and-away factor in their formula so I think it has some influence, yes," he said.

Oklahoma has one win over a ranked team (Texas), while Miami has two (Florida State and Louisville), which also sways computer rankings, Weiberg said.

The Orange Bowl will host the top two teams in the final BCS standings on Jan. 4 for the national title.

USC, No. 1 in each of the major polls all season, has a big lead in the BCS with a score of .9912 out of a possible 1.000. Miami's score is .9187, while Oklahoma graded out to .9161.

Auburn is fourth with a score of .9036 and Florida State (.8072) is fifth. The Seminoles, with one loss, are ahead of two unbeaten teams -- Wisconsin (.7255) and Utah (.7251).

The Utes, ranked ninth in the AP poll and 10th in the ESPN/USA Today poll, are in position to become the first team from outside the six major conferences to earn a bid to one of the four big-ticket BCS games.

The champions from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conference make up six of the eight teams in the four BCS games -- the Orange, Sugar, Rose and Fiesta bowls. The other two spots go to wild-card teams.

Finishing in the top six in the BCS standings also guarantees a team a BCS bowl bid. A top-12 ranking in the final BCS standings is necessary to be eligible for one of the wild-card spots.

Utah plays in the Mountain West Conference and has a 3-0 record this season against teams from BCS conferences.

Boise State, the other unbeaten team from a mid-major conference, was 14th in the first BCS standings.

The BCS changed its formula for determining which teams play for the national title after last season, when USC finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in both polls, but third in the BCS standings and was left out of the title game.

Oklahoma reached the title game last season because of flaws in the old BCS formula. The Sooners lost the Big 12 title game and dropped to No. 3 in the major polls, but still finished first in the BCS standings. They were beaten in the Sugar Bowl by LSU, which was voted No. 1 in the coaches poll. USC ended up No. 1 in the media poll.

Under the system in place this season, LSU and USC would have played in the Sugar Bowl last season.

In the past, results from the AP and coaches polls were averaged, then factored in with the other components -- a formula that lessened the significance of the polls.

BCS officials scaled down the formula this season, eliminating elements such as bonus points for quality wins and strength of schedule, which was considered redundant because computers and poll voters already take that into account.

Also, for the first time, the BCS formula takes into account the number of votes a team receives in the major polls and not just its ranking.

The goal was to simplify the system and better reflect what are the consensus top two teams in the country.

USC and Oklahoma have been one and two, respectively, in the polls since the preseason. The Trojans hold a substantial lead over the Sooners in both polls, and Oklahoma is comfortably No. 2 in both.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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