USC, Oklahoma Stay on Top of BCS Standings

Monday, November 22nd 2004, 12:14 pm

By: News On 6

Southern California and Oklahoma held the top two spots in the Bowl Championship Series standings on Monday, leaving little doubt that the Trojans and Sooners are in control of their national title hopes.

Unbeaten Auburn is stuck in third-place behind the first-place Trojans and second-place Sooners. The Tigers look like they'll be the team left out of the Orange Bowl no matter how they do in the Southeastern Conference championship game on Dec. 4 against Tennessee.

USC finishes the season against Notre Dame on Saturday and UCLA on Dec. 4. The Sooners still have to play the Big 12 title game against either Iowa State or Colorado.

Only an unexpected loss or a dramatic shift in the polls, where USC is a solid No. 1 and Oklahoma holds a slight advantage over Auburn for second, could derail the Trojans and Sooners.

Not only did Oklahoma, with a BCS grade of .9642, slightly increase its lead over Auburn (.9356) from last week to .0286, but the Sooners also made a big gain on USC.

The Trojans' .9789 grade is their lowest of the season. Their lead on Oklahoma is down to .0147.

USC was idle last week while Oklahoma was shutting out Baylor 35-0 on Saturday. Auburn trailed at the half before beating Alabama 21-13.

California (.8504) is in fourth place and Texas (.8301) is fifth, with Utah (.8172) sixth.

The Utes (11-0) finished their season on Saturday with a 52-21 win over Mountain West Conference rival BYU, all but ensuring themselves of being the first team from a non-BCS conference to play in a BCS game.

Teams from outside the BCS conferences need to finish in the top six of the final BCS standings to guarantee a spot in on of the four $14-million bowl games.

Boise State is seventh, keeping alive the possibility that the BCS could have two mid-major teams in it this season. The unbeaten Broncos (10-0) of the Western Athletic Conference have a grade of .639 and one game left against Nevada.

It's still a long shot for Boise State, though. Even if California or Texas loses its season-finale and the Broncos finish unbeaten, it might not be enough for them to make the jump they need in the polls and computer rankings.

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