USC, Miami top initial BCS list

Updated: October 19, 2004, 1:43 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Who said computers won't have a big impact on the BCS Standings?

Southern California and Miami are 1-2 in the initial BCS Standings, with Oklahoma third despite being ranked second in both the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll and AP media poll.

Put in place after last season's split national championship, the new BCS formula relies more on the human polls than ever before.

"I think it's obviously very early. It's important that there not be an overreaction to this poll," BCS coordinator and Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg said.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Monday it's too early to be concerned about the BCS.

"There is too much of this season left to play for anyone to get too worked up about this now," Stoops said. "The bottom line is that you have to go out there and win your games.

Stoops said time will help eliminate any perceived problems.

"How many teams were undefeated last year at the end of the regular season? We were the only ones. The year before, how many were there? Two. The year we won the national championship, there was one," Stoops said.

"Every single year, everybody acts like there's going to be seven or eight. There'll be one or two again and that's who'll end up having a chance at it."

Stoops said the initial ranking could actually be a "bonus" because the BCS Standings brought to you by Allstate have never held true at the end of the season.

"It's the first poll," he said. "In the end, it doesn't much matter."

Stoops said he didn't expect the rankings to have an affect on his team.

"The motivation this week is to win. That's motivation enough," Stoops said. "Everyone knows the deal: You've got to win."

Despite the apparent snub, the Sooners' coach actually found a way to compliment the system.

"At this point in the season, it just generates a lot of discussion among the people who like to talk about college football," Stoops said. "In that sense, it's a positive because it keeps people talking about our sport.

"But it really makes no difference where anyone is ranked today."

The coaches' and AP polls each count for one-third of a team's total points for the BCS Standings, which are presented by Allstate. The other third is made up of a compilation of six computer rankings, and that's where Miami made up the difference over the Sooners. The Hurricanes are ranked fourth in the AP media poll and third in the coaches poll, but they have the second-most points in the computer rankings.

"Our philosophy is that the only thing we can control is how we play," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "We firmly believe that if we play well and win, our rankings in the polls and the BCS will reflect this and that we will be rewarded for those efforts. Because we have been named the No. 2 team in the first BCS standings, our job now is to respond and move forward."

Oklahoma, which benefited from the old system last season, was fifth in the computer rankings. Each team's highest and lowest computer ranking is tossed out before an average is reached.

Weiberg said that Oklahoma was probably hurt in the computer rankings by having played only one road game.

"Several of them use a home-and-away factor in their formula, so I think it has some influence, yes," he said.

Oklahoma has one win over a ranked team (Texas), while Miami has two (Florida State and Louisville), which also sways computer rankings, Weiberg said.

USC, No. 1 in each of the major polls all season, has a big lead in the BCS, with a score of .9912 out of a possible 1.000. Miami's score is .9187, while Oklahoma graded out to .9161.

Auburn is fourth with a score of .9036, followed by Florida State (.8072), the highest-rated team that isn't undefeated. The Seminoles, who are 5-1, are ahead of two unbeaten teams -- Wisconsin (.7255) and Utah (.7251).

The Utes, ranked ninth in the AP poll and 10th in the coaches' poll and trailing by just .0004, are in position to become the first team from outside the six major conferences to earn a bid to one of the four big-ticket BCS games.

As happy as coach Urban Meyer was to hear his team was ranked seventh, he didn't want to talk about it much. And he definitely didn't want to hear about it from his players.

"If I hear it, I'll squelch any discussion about that," Meyer said Monday.

The champions from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conference make up six of the eight teams in the four BCS games -- the Orange, Sugar, Rose and Fiesta bowls. The other two spots go to wild-card teams.

Finishing in the top six in the BCS standings also guarantees a team a BCS bowl bid. A top-12 ranking in the final BCS standings is necessary to be eligible for one of the wild-card spots.

Utah plays in the Mountain West Conference and has a 3-0 record this season against teams from BCS conferences.

Boise State, the other unbeaten team from a mid-major conference, is 14th in the first BCS standings.

California (.6733), Tennessee (.6331) and Georgia (.6090) round out the top 10.

The Orange Bowl will host the top two teams in the final BCS standings on Jan. 4 for the national title. The final standings come out Dec. 5.

The BCS changed its formula for determining which teams play for the national title after last season, when USC finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in both polls but third in the BCS standings and was left out of the title game.

Oklahoma reached the title game last season because of flaws in the old BCS formula. The Sooners lost the Big 12 title game and dropped to No. 3 in the major polls but still finished first in the BCS standings. They were beaten in the Sugar Bowl by LSU, which was voted No. 1 in the coaches poll. USC ended up No. 1 in the media poll.

Under the system in place this season, LSU and USC would have played in the Sugar Bowl last season.

In the past, results from the AP and coaches polls were averaged, then factored in with the other components -- a formula that lessened the significance of the polls.

BCS officials scaled down the formula this season, eliminating elements such as bonus points for quality wins and strength of schedule, which was considered redundant because computers and poll voters already take that into account.

Also, for the first time, the BCS formula takes into account the number of votes a team receives in the major polls and not just its ranking.

The goal was to simplify the system and better reflect what are the consensus top two teams in the country.

USC and Oklahoma have been Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the polls since the preseason. The Trojans hold a substantial lead over the Sooners in both polls, and Oklahoma is comfortably No. 2 in both.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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