USC and Oklahoma are one and two, and in control

Nov. 22, 2004

By RALPH D. RUSSO
AP Sports Writer

Southern California and Oklahoma held the top two spots in the BowlChampionship Series standings on Monday, leaving little doubt that the Trojansand Sooners are in control of their national title hopes.

Unbeaten Auburn is stuck in third-place behind the first-place Trojans andsecond-place Sooners. The Tigers look like they'll be the team left out of theOrange Bowl no matter how they do in the Southeastern Conference championshipgame on Dec. 4 against Tennessee.

USC finishes the season against Notre Dame on Saturday and UCLA on Dec. 4.The Sooners still have to play the Big 12 title game against either Iowa Stateor Colorado.

Only an unexpected loss or a dramatic shift in the polls, where USC is asolid No. 1 and Oklahoma holds a slight advantage over Auburn for second, couldderail the Trojans and Sooners.

Not only did Oklahoma, with a BCS grade of .9642, slightly increase its leadover Auburn (.9356) from last week to .0286, but the Sooners also made a biggain on USC.

The Trojans' .9789 grade is their lowest of the season. Their lead onOklahoma is down to .0147.

USC was idle last week while Oklahoma was shutting out Baylor 35-0 onSaturday. Auburn trailed at the half before beating Alabama 21-13.

California (.8504) is in fourth place and Texas (.8301) is fifth, with Utah(.8172) sixth.

The Utes (11-0) finished their season on Saturday with a 52-21 win overMountain West Conference rival BYU, all but ensuring themselves of being thefirst team from a non-BCS conference to play in a BCS game.

Teams from outside the BCS conferences need to finish in the top six of thefinal BCS standings to guarantee a spot in on of the four $14-million bowlgames.

Boise State is seventh, keeping alive the possibility that the BCS couldhave two mid-major teams in it this season. The unbeaten Broncos (10-0) of theWestern Athletic Conference have a grade of .639 and one game left againstNevada.

It's still a long shot for Boise State, though. Even if California or Texasloses its season-finale and the Broncos finish unbeaten, it might not be enoughfor them to make the jump they need in the polls and computer rankings.

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