<
>

Ohio State still atop BCS, but a change at No. 2

Ohio State remained the top team in the latest Bowl Championship Series Standings that were released Sunday. But if the Buckeyes take a look back over the shoulders, they'll see a familiar foe: Michigan.

The Wolverines, boosted by a 20-6 home win over Iowa on Saturday, vaulted past idle USC in the new standings. It is the first time since Oct. 27, 2001 that the same conference has held the top two spots in the standings (Nebraska at No. 1 and Oklahoma at No. 2, both out of the Big 12).

Still, there's no reason for the Trojans to worry.

USC is still a solid No. 3 behind Ohio State and
Michigan. And with the Buckeyes and Wolverines slated to meet on
Nov. 18 in Columbus, Ohio, the Trojans remained in good shape to
secure a spot in the BCS championship game with an undefeated
regular season.

The Buckeyes, who have been No. 1 in the polls all season by a
wide margin, have a BCS average of .9764 out of a possible 1.000.
The Wolverines' .9451 gives them a slight edge over the Trojans'
.9430.

What is more important for the Trojans is their wide margin over
fourth-place West Virginia. The unbeaten Mountaineers moved up a
spot this week, switching places with Auburn. But West Virginia's
.7551 average leaves it with loads of ground to make up on the top
three.

The BCS title game will be played Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz.

Ohio State, USC and Michigan are in control of the national
championship race. If two of those teams finish the regular season
unbeaten, it probably won't matter what goes on with the teams
behind them.

USC and Michigan are tied for the top spot in the computer
ratings with Ohio State third. The Trojans are second in the
coaches' poll and Michigan is a close third. In the Harris poll,
those spots are reversed.

In the AP poll, Ohio State is No. 1 with Michigan second and USC
No. 3.

The BCS average is determined by a team's standing in the
coaches' poll and the Harris Interactive poll. Each poll counts for
a third of a team's grade. The other third is determined by a
compilation of six computer ratings.

West Virginia does not grade out well in the computers. The
Mountaineers are fourth in both polls, but only the 14th-best team
in the country according to the computers.

West Virginia's schedule is about to get much tougher and that
should give its computer rating a boost over the final month of the
season.

The Mountaineers next play unbeaten Big East rival Louisville on
Nov. 2. The Cardinals are in eighth place in the BCS standings,
just behind Auburn, Florida and Texas. All of those teams have lost once.

Notre Dame is in ninth place. The Fighting Irish are guaranteed
a spot in one of the five BCS games by finishing eighth in the
final standings.

California is in 10th place, followed by Tennessee and Clemson.

Unbeaten Boise State of the Western Athletic Conference remained
in 15th place. The Broncos -- or any other team playing in a
conference without an automatic bid -- need to reach the top 12 in
the final standings to secure a bid to either the Rose, Fiesta,
Sugar or Orange bowls.

Making their BCS debuts this week were Texas A&M at No. 21 and Washington State at No. 25. The Aggies needed a blocked extra point in overtime to beat Oklahoma State 34-33, while Wazzu stunned Oregon 34-23. The Ducks fell nine spots this week to No. 23.

With the loss to Michigan, Iowa, ranked 23rd last week, dropped out of the top 25. Tulsa, despite a 35-14 win at Memphis, also dropped out of the standings. The Golden Hurricanes had been No. 25.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.