USC, Texas atop BCS

Virginia Tech far behind in third place, Notre Dame 16th in season's 1st rankings

College Football

October 18, 2005|By DON MARKUS | DON MARKUS,SUN REPORTER

The first Bowl Championship Series rankings of the 2005 college football season were released yesterday, with little variation from the human polls but the potential for more controversy in this often confusing process.

As expected, Southern California and Texas were ranked first and second, respectively, as they have been all season, and remain on what appears to be a collision course for an end-of-season showdown in the Rose Bowl.

The top two teams will play at the venerable stadium in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 4 in this season's BCS title game.

While the Trojans have a solid lead over the Longhorns - an average of .9923 to .9591 out of a possible 1.000 - the distance between the Longhorns and Virginia Tech (.9067) is even more significant.

It could mean that the Hokies will be relegated to another BCS game even if they finish unbeaten. That happened last year to Auburn, which went to the Sugar Bowl while USC trounced Oklahoma, 55-19, in the Orange Bowl and Texas coach Mack Brown lobbied successfully for the Longhorns in the Rose.

While most coaches say they don't put much stock in the BCS rankings, especially this early in the season, at least one prominent player seemed relieved to see his team near the top.

"I care because we are a great team," said Texas quarterback Vince Young. "We deserve it because of how hard we're playing. But the BCS is wild. If you just take care of your business as a team, everything else will fall into place."

The BCS rankings are derived from the use of two human polls - the USA Today poll of coaches and the Harris Interactive Poll, which replaced the Associated Press media poll and is made up of former players, coaches and administrators - along with six computer polls.

The BCS rankings are also used to determine the teams that play in the four BCS postseason games - the Rose Bowl will get the top two teams, and the Fiesta, Sugar and Orange Bowls will get the other six. Champions from the six BCS conferences - the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pacific-10 and Southeastern - receive automatic bids. Perhaps the biggest glitch yesterday was that the average of the six computer polls used varied greatly from the human polls.

Miami was eighth overall, largely because its sixth-place votes in the two human polls outweighed a tie for 13th in the computer poll average.

Conversely, Penn State was sixth in the computer polls but 10th overall because the Nittany Lions were voted No. 12 in the Harris Interactive Poll and 14th by the coaches.

Another interesting result involved Notre Dame, which was 16th overall.

After narrowly losing to USC Saturday at home, the Fighting Irish remained No. 9 in the AP poll. But the Harris Interactive poll had Notre Dame at No. 11, the USA Today poll ranked the Irish 12th and the computer polls had them no higher than 22nd, with two of the computer polls failing to rank Notre Dame.

Since they don't have an automatic bid to a BCS game as an independent, the Fighting Irish have to win at least nine games and finish among the top 12 in the final BCS rankings in order to be eligible for an invitation. The Irish have played once in a BCS game, losing to Oregon State in the 2001 Fiesta Bowl.

"You start worrying about the BCS and what bowl you're playing in, then BYU comes in and ends up beating you, which they are capable of doing, then you've made a bad miscalculation," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said shortly before the BCS standings were released.

What could help the Irish is that, unlike recent years, no teams from outside the BCS conferences appear to be a factor. Texas Christian is the only team among the top 25at 21st overall.

don.markus@baltsun.com

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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