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The battle is between the one-loss teams

There is no surprise atop this week's mock BCS standings. The first three positions are exactly what you see in the major polls.

1. Texas ... 2. Alabama ... 3. Penn State

The closest thing to real intrigue, as we near Sunday's official debut of the BCS standings, is the order of the once-beaten teams. At the pace top-five squads are being knocked off this season, it seems more likely than unlikely that a one-loss team will once again appear in the BCS National Championship Game.

At least for this week, USC is the leader of that pack. Boosted by a No. 4 ranking in the coaches' poll and computer ratings that are superior to those of Oklahoma and Texas Tech, the Trojans are not nearly as far out of the title chase as they seemed to be after falling to Oregon State just three weeks ago.

Whether USC can retain that spot, and whether it will even matter which is the highest-ranked one-loss team, will be among the many BCS story lines sure to be discussed at great length over the next eight weeks.

Brad Edwards is a college football researcher at ESPN.