Michigan holds slight edge over USC for No. 2 BCS spot
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Michigan-Ohio State II could get canceled by Southern California.
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Michigan was impressive enough in a 42-39 loss to the Buckeyes to retain second place in the Bowl Championship Series standings released Sunday. But the Wolverines' margin is so slim that it'll be tough for them to get another shot at Ohio State in the national title game if the Trojans keep winning.
Michigan's BCS average was .926. The Trojans, who have two games left, were at .919.
"I'm not surprised," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said of Michigan retaining second place. "The pollsters had to be impressed with the way [Michigan] has played."
"It'll be interesting to see how it comes out," he told Fox television.
The No. 1 Buckeyes locked up a spot in the BCS title game Jan. 8 in Arizona with their victory over the Wolverines on Saturday, their 19th straight overall. They also became the first team to have a perfect score (1.000) under the BCS formula introduced in 2004. Ohio State is a unanimous No. 1 in the polls and the best team in the country according to the BCS computer ratings.
Florida was in fourth place in the BCS standings with an average of .884, followed by Notre Dame (.820), which plays at USC on Saturday. Arkansas (.807) was sixth. The Razorbacks and Gators meet in the Southeastern Conference title game on Dec. 2.
Florida coach Urban Meyer said Sunday a rematch between Michigan and Ohio State would be cause for immediate change to the BCS.
"If that does happen, all the [university] presidents need to get together immediately and put together a playoff system," he said. "I mean like now, January or whenever to get that done."
Michigan's regular season is complete, so the Wolverines can do nothing but watch what happens to USC and the other contenders over the next two weeks.
The Trojans, who beat Cal 23-9 on Saturday to lock up the Pac-10's automatic BCS bid, passed Michigan and moved up to No. 2 in both the coaches' poll and the Harris poll. The polls count for two-thirds of a team's BCS average. Michigan remained second in the computer ratings that account for the other third of the BCS average.
USC is third in the computers, a mark that should get a boost if the Trojans can knock off a highly rated Notre Dame team and crosstown rival UCLA the following week.
A USC loss would help Michigan, but it could also give the SEC champion a chance to pass Michigan if either the Gators or Razorbacks win their final two games.
If Michigan doesn't get into the championship game, the Wolverines are a lock to at least get into the BCS as an at-large team. The Rose Bowl would seem to be the Wolverines likely fallback, but there's no guarantee.
Unbeaten Boise State moved up to 11th place. With one more victory in their season finale at WAC rival Nevada, the Broncos will become the second team from a conference without an automatic bid to reach the BCS. Boise State would likely be headed for the Fiesta Bowl to play the Big 12 champ.
Notre Dame can also lock up an automatic bid by finishing in the top eight. A win at USC would do the trick, but even with a loss the Irish should be eligible for selection.
If the Rose Bowl loses both its Pac-10 champ (USC) and Big Ten champ (Ohio State) to the championship game, it will have the first two selections among the remaining BCS at-large pool.
A Michigan-Notre Dame rematch in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 1 would then be possible. The Wolverines beat the Fighting Irish 47-21 in September at South Bend, Ind.
With Boise State, Michigan and Notre Dame all with bids in their sights, it looks like only one of the four at-large bids is still in play.
The SEC champion plays in the Sugar Bowl if it doesn't qualify for the BCS championship.
The Atlantic Coast Conference champ will play in the Orange Bowl, and the Big East champ also gets an automatic bid.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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