USC And Miami Take Top Two Spots In First BCS List

Oct. 18, 2004

By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP Sports Writer

Southern California took the top spot Monday in the season's first BowlChampionship Series standings, but surprisingly Miami is ahead of Oklahoma in aclose race for the second spot.

Oklahoma is No. 2 behind USC in both The Associated Press Top 25 and coachespoll. Put in place after last season's split national championship, the new BCSformula relies more on the human polls than ever before - each counts forone-third of a team's total score after the BCS.

The other third is made up of a compilation of six computer rankings, andthat's where Miami made up the difference over the Sooners. The Hurricanes areranked fourth in the AP media poll and third in the coaches poll, but have thesecond-most points in the computer rankings.

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

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

USC, No. 1 in each of the major polls all season, has a big lead in the BCSwith a score of .9912 out of a possible 1.000. Miami's score is .9187, whileOklahoma 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 conferencesto 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 fourBCS games - the Orange, Sugar, Rose and Fiesta bowls. The other two spots go towild-card teams.

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

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

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

The BCS changed its formula for determining which teams play for thenational title after last season, when USC finished the regular season rankedNo. 1 in both polls, but third in the BCS standings and was left out of thetitle game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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