The Bowl Championship Series standings underwent a shakeup yesterday, but the top two teams -- Southern California and Oklahoma -- remained the same. Barring an upset, they appear headed for a showdown in the Orange Bowl on Jan. 4 for the national title.
Miami, which lost to North Carolina, dropped from third to 10th, while Florida State, which lost to Maryland, fell from fifth to 13th. Those results forced movement near the top of the rankings. Auburn (8-0) moved into third, its highest position in the three weekly rankings that have been released thus far. California (6-1), whose only loss came at USC by six points, made the biggest move of the week, jumping from eighth to fourth.
Wisconsin (8-0), which was idle over the weekend, moved from seventh to fifth, leapfrogging Utah, while the Utes (8-0) held steady in sixth. If Utah, which plays in the Mountain West Conference, remains in the top six, it will be guaranteed a spot in one of the four BCS games. No team from outside the six major conferences -- the ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-10 and Southeastern -- has ever earned a berth. Utah's BCS average is .7429, ahead of seventh-place Texas by .0059 of a point. Tennessee (.7124) is eighth, followed by Georgia (.7019).
The Associated Press media poll and the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll each make up one-third of a team's BCS standing. The other third comes from taking an average of six computer polls.
That formula, new this year, was meant to give more weight to the media and coaches' polls. In that sense, it's working. The top five teams in the AP poll are the same five teams, in the same order, as in the BCS rankings. Only two teams, Boise State and Arizona State, are ranked significantly differently by the AP and the BCS. Unbeaten Boise State is 12th in the BCS standings, but 16th in the AP poll. Arizona State is ranked 18th by the BCS, 23rd by the AP.