In new system, UCLA No. 1 BCS computers say Bruins' schedule earns nod over Ohio State

October 27, 1998|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

There's a new poll, a new No. 1 and some new math for gridiron-ologists to digest as college football marches on to the bowl season and, presumably, an undisputed national champion.

The Bowl Championship Series has released its first rankings and UCLA is No. 1.

So far, Ohio State may have won the hearts and minds, as well as the top ranking of media members and coaches in their respective polls, but the Buckeyes apparently do not interface well with computers.

Each of the three computer services used in the BCS formula -- including the New York Times ranking -- chose the Bruins No. 1 over Ohio State.

"It really doesn't matter to me whether we're ranked first or second in the BCS poll," said UCLA coach Bob Toledo. "The important thing is to have a chance to play in the championship game, and you can do that being ranked first or second."

The BCS system is in place to ensure that clear-cut Nos. 1 and 2 teams will meet in a national-championship game, this season in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4. The system puts together the poll placements and computer rankings, adds a numerical value for strength of schedule and factors in a team's number of losses.

In theory, never again will an undefeated Michigan team and an undefeated Nebraska team each win a national championship, as was the case last season.

UCLA (6-0) earned 3.04 points in the rankings -- 2 points for poll average, 1 for computer average, 0.04 for strength of schedule and 0 for losses.

The Bruins were rewarded for playing what the system determined to be the nation's toughest schedule -- its opponents are a combined 27-10 and include two BCS ranked teams, No. 11 Oregon and No. 14 Arizona.

Ohio State earned 4.31 points -- 1 for poll average, 2.67 for computer average, 0.64 for strength of schedule and 0 for losses.

The Buckeyes were penalized for what the formula determined was only the 16th-best schedule (27-15 opponents' record) in the nation.

"We can't worry about the BCS rating, just like we can't worry about our rankings in the national polls," said Ohio State coach John Cooper. "I can say that we're happy to be ranked as high as we are in the polls.

"We've been the No. 1 team in both the major polls all season and we're just going to keep working hard to try to win football games. Winning takes care of everything."

The point differential for the BCS' Nos. 3 and 4 teams bears out Cooper's contention that, softer schedule or not, Ohio State will play in the national title game if it remains undefeated. That's because the media and coaches polls still carry great weight.

Tennessee (6-0), for example, earned 6.50 points despite playing what the BCS rankings say is the nation's second-toughest schedule. The Vols have beaten the BCS' No. 7 team, Florida; No. 13 Georgia and No. 20 Syracuse.

Still, because Tennessee is ranked No. 3 by the media and No. 4 by the coaches gives the Vols 3.50 points in the poll component alone.

The rankings will be released each Monday for the next six weeks until Dec. 6, when they will be calculated for a final time and the Fiesta Bowl matchup will be announced.

Bowl poll

A look at the Bowl Championship Series' top five:

No. School ........ Rec. Pts

1. UCLA ........... 6-0 3.04

2. Ohio State ..... 7-0 4.31

3. Tennessee ...... 6-0 6.50

4. Kansas State ... 7-0 8.79

5. Florida State .. 7-1 13.39

Bowl Championship

The Bowl Championship Series standings, which use the Associated Press' media poll and the USA Today/ESPN coaches' polls, computer ratings, strength-of-schedule and won-lost records, will determine which teams play in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4 for the national championship:

No. School ............ AP .. U/E .. Pts.

1. UCLA (6-0) ......... 2 .... 2 ... 3.04

2. Ohio St. (7-0) ..... 1 .... 1 ... 4.31

3. Tennessee (6-0) .... 3 .... 4 ... 6.50

4. Kansas St. (7-0) ... 4 .... 3 ... 8.79

5. Florida St. (7-1) .. 5 .... 6 ... 13.39

6. Nebraska (7-1) ..... 7 .... 7 ... 14.27

7. Florida (6-1) ...... 6 .... 5 ... 16.05

8. Tex. A&M (7-1) ..... 8 .... 9 ... 16.82

9. Wisconsin (8-0) .... 9 .... 8 ... 21.14

10. Penn St. (5-1) .... 10 ... 10 .. 22.52

11. Oregon (6-1) ...... 12 ... 13 .. 24.54

1 2. Arkansas (6-0) ... 14 ... 12 .. 27.56

13. Georgia (6-1) ..... 11 ... 11 .. 29.83

14. Arizona (7-1) ..... 13 ... 15 .. 31.87

15. Virginia (6-1) .... 15 ... 14 .. 37.26

16. N. Dame (5-1) ..... 16 ... 16 .. 37.95

17. Ga. Tech (5-2) .... 23 ... 24 .. 43.61

18. Missouri (5-2) .... 18 ... 21 .. 44.42

19. Tulane (6-0) ...... 19 ... 18 .. 47.61

20. Syracuse (4-2) .... 17 ... 19 .. 49.36

Pub Date: 10/27/98

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