Ohio State is the new BCS No. 2, but barely

No. 1 Okla. well ahead

defending champions leading No. 3 USC by .19

November 18, 2003|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

The revolving door to this year's Bowl Championship Series title game swung open again last night, this time with the defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes being thrust into the fluid No. 2 spot.

The Buckeyes are No. 4 in both the Associated Press poll of writers and broadcasters as well as the USA Today/ESPN poll of coaches, but jumped over Southern Cal in the BCS standings.

Though still far behind top-ranked Oklahoma (11-0) in the data spit out by the compilation of computer polls used in the BCS formula, the Buckeyes found themselves a scant 0.19 of a point ahead of the Trojans.

Ohio State (10-1) could get a little breathing room on USC (10-1) with a victory Saturday at Michigan, which is ranked fifth in the AP and USA Today/ESPN polls and is ninth overall in the BCS rankings. The Trojans play host to unranked UCLA.

"That's great, I guess, but it doesn't really mean anything until we go up and play Michigan," said Ohio State defensive end Will Smith. "After we play Michigan and hopefully come out with a win, then we can see where we're ranked then."

The Buckeyes, coming off a 16-13 overtime win at home over then-No. 11 Purdue, won two years ago in Ann Arbor for the first time since 1987. This will be Ohio State's final regular-season game, and the Big Ten Conference doesn't play a championship game

After their game at the Los Angeles Coliseum against the rival Bruins, the Trojans don't play until Dec. 6, when they play host to Oregon State. USC coach Pete Carroll took the news of his team's demotion in stride.

"I wasn't concerned about it last week and I am not concerned about it this week," said Carroll, whose team beat Arizona, 45-0, on Saturday in Tucson. "We have a big game coming up against UCLA. We're just trying to take care of business this week."

The Trojans also will need a little help from one of their Pac-10 brethren. If Washington State can move up from No. 10 in the current BCS rankings, that will bolster USC, which beat the Cougars this season.

"You can't look at the numbers without looking ahead," said BCS expert Jerry Palm. "The big misconception about the BCS is people think it works like the polls do, where if you win you won't drop. It doesn't."

Texas Christian, the only other undefeated team in Division I-A aside from Oklahoma, is hanging tenuously onto its No. 8 spot in the BCS rankings despite having the worst strength of schedule (90th) among those teams still in the hunt.

Though the Horned Frogs would have to finish in the top six to insure themselves an automatic BCS bid, there has been much discussion of a possible matchup with Texas in the Fiesta Bowl.

The discussion to change the overall BCS format to be more inclusive of teams from mid-major conferences continued yesterday in New Orleans, where 13 college presidents met to discuss what many of them consider to be an exclusionary policy.

No changes were made, and the group agreed to meet again in two months to further the process.

"We just feel we need to do a lot more discussion with our conference commissioners and presidents and do testing on models we talked about today," Tulane president Scott Cowen, who took his issue before a congressional hearing earlier this year, said during a media teleconference.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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