Tigers likely to pass Trojans

Originally Published: December 7, 2003
By Brad Edwards | Special to ESPN.com

Last week, just about everything went wrong for LSU. This week, the breaks didn't go USC's way, and will likely cost the Trojans a spot in the national championship game.

USC's only remaining hope is to jump to No. 1 in both polls and have Oklahoma fall only to No. 2 in either poll.
Brad Edwards
Despite another strong performance on the field by USC, the Trojans' BCS position was weakened due to losses by two of their opponents, Notre Dame and Hawaii.

This, combined with Saturday's other results, will allow LSU to finish eight spots better than USC in schedule strength. LSU will now be able to overcome a one-point poll deficit to USC, as long as it leads the Trojans in at least six of the seven BCS computers (which should definitely happen).

USC's only remaining hope is to jump to No. 1 in both polls and have Oklahoma fall only to No. 2 in either poll. LSU can overcome a one-point poll deficit to USC, but the Tigers can't make up the difference if it is a point-and-a-half or more.

And the ultimate disaster scenario for the BCS still looms. If Oklahoma falls to No. 3 in both polls, and USC moves to No. 1, the Trojans will still fall to No. 3 in the BCS Standings. The founders of the BCS certainly realized this was mathematically possible, but it's doubtful they thought it could ever take place. Ready or not, here it comes!

Because the BCS computers are no longer allowed to consider margin of victory -- or in this case, margin of defeat -- the Sooners will remain the top-ranked team in the majority of these ratings, which will allow them to stay in the top two of the BCS. Whether LSU or USC gets the other spot in the Nokia Sugar Bowl is now in the hands of the voters. If either poll keeps Oklahoma between the Trojans and Tigers, then USC will get the nod. If both polls drop OU to No. 3, then top-ranked USC will find itself playing Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

This would be tough to swallow for Trojans fans, but it's not the end of the world. A win over No. 4 Michigan would likely make USC the national champion in the AP poll, even though the coaches will crown a different champ. The BCS was supposed to keep split polls from taking place anymore, but as we have come to know too well, the best-laid plans of the BCS often go awry.

Brad Edwards is a researcher for ESPN. His Road to the BCS column appears every Sunday.

• Analyzes college football and the CFB Playoff as part of ESPN's Stats & Information Group
• Analyst for both College GameDay on ESPN Radio and the ESPN College Football app