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Sooners, Hurricanes, Hokes 1-2-3

10/21/2003

Oklahoma is in a familiar place -- first in the initial Bowl Championship Series standings. The Sooners' task this year is to
stay there.

Oklahoma was No. 1 in the first BCS standings for the third
straight year, matching the spot it has held in the two major polls
all season.

"It's a positive indicator that we've played awfully well for
seven games," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said Monday. "We've earned
that position and have played well through this part of the season.
Now, it's our job to continue it, finish it and keep it."

Miami and Virginia Tech, the other two undefeated teams from major conferences, are second and third.

The BCS standings are used to determine which teams play in a
national title game. The teams that finish 1-2 in the final BCS
standings on Dec. 7 will play for the title at the Sugar Bowl in
New Orleans on Jan. 4.

The formula uses the AP media and coaches' polls, seven computer
rankings, strength of schedule, losses and a bonus-point system for
quality wins.

The Sooners (7-0) have a 1.0 for poll average, 1.33 for
computer-rank average, 0.44 for strength of schedule and zero for
losses for a 2.77 total. Oklahoma is ranked first in four of
computers with Miami the top team in the other three.

The Hurricanes (7-0) have 4.10 points and Virginia Tech (6-0)
has 10.23.

"We can't get caught up in anything other than winning our
games," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "If we do that, everything
will work out as it should."

Georgia (12.99), Florida State (13.14), Ohio State (13.20),
Southern California (13.83) and Purdue (21.50) round out the top eight. The top four teams in the BCS are the same as in the AP poll.

The two other undefeated teams in Division I-A are not at the top of the standings. Northern Illinois (7-0) of the Mid-American conference is 10th, while TCU (7-0) of Conference USA is 14th. Both teams have poor strength of schedule rankings, with the Huskies 100th and the Horned Frogs 96th out of 117 Division I-A teams.

In the first five years of the BCS, the teams that were in the
top two spots in the first standings never stayed there for the
final standings. However, the 10 teams that have played in the
championship game were all in the top 6 in the first BCS standings.

After fast starts the past two seasons, Oklahoma lost twice in
the second half to fall short of the national title game. Three
years ago, Oklahoma was second in the first standings and went on
to win the national championship in the Orange Bowl against Florida
State.

"There seems to be a special quality about these guys, a
genuine humility to them and a hunger to them in wanting to play
well," Stoops said. "I just felt in the last few years we were a
little bit short in some areas."

The BCS was started five years ago to create a national title
game without playoffs. Champions of six conferences -- the ACC, Big
East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC -- qualify for a BCS game, and
two at-large teams are selected to fill out the field. Teams
outside those conferences automatically qualify for a BCS game with
nine wins and a top six finish in the final standings.

Northern Illinois and TCU will need to be in the top 12 to be
eligible for one of the lucrative bowl games. There has been
pressure from schools outside the big six conferences to improve
access to the BCS bowls -- Orange, Sugar, Fiesta and Rose.

"We've got so much football to play that we don't even really
waste time thinking of that right now," Northern Illinois coach
Joe Novak said.

Tulane president Scott Cowen, whose school was left out in 1998
despite going undefeated, has started a coalition to lobby the
major conferences and has even threatened an antitrust suit.

"The BCS system is a restrictive and exclusive system," Cowen
said. "The combination of automatic qualifiers and the ranking
system make it virtually impossible for non-BCS schools to get
ranked.

"Northern Illinois is a living example right in front of us.
It's a vivid reminder for us -- there's a real school here
disadvantaged because of the system."

The BCS standings will be released each week for the remainder
of the season.

The seven computer rankings are operated by Anderson & Hester,
Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, The New York
Times, Jeff Sagarin's USA Today, and Peter Wolfe.