The Bowl Championship Series standings -- college football's week-to-week barometer of who's in line to play for the national title, and who could end up with the remaining berths in major bowls -- offered another puzzle yesterday with the release of the latest standings.
Oklahoma, which a week earlier was ranked third by the BCS despite its No. 2 ranking in both major polls, moved into the second spot, overtaking Miami despite the Hurricanes' convincing win at North Carolina State.
The new BCS formula now considers only the Associated Press poll, the coaches' poll and an average of six computer rankings. The top two teams in the final poll will play in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4 for the national title.
Unbeaten Utah, which plays in the Mountain West Conference -- one of five Division I-A conferences whose champion doesn't receive an automatic bid to one of the four BCS bowls -- moved into sixth place, jumping over unbeaten Wisconsin. The top six teams in the final poll are guaranteed spots in a BCS bowl, and if the Utes are able to maintain that standing, they will become the first team from a non-BCS league to play in one of the lucrative BCS bowls. To even be considered for a berth in either the Fiesta, Rose or Sugar bowls -- which each guarantee a payment of at least $14 million -- the Utes must finish in the top 12.
Southern California, the top-ranked team in both the AP and coaches' polls, remained No. 1 in the BCS standings. Oklahoma is second, and Miami -- which now is ranked first by the average of six computer rankings -- is third. Auburn, Florida State, Utah, Wisconsin, California, Georgia and Texas round out the top 10.
-- Barry Svrluga