LSU solid No. 2 in coaches' poll

NEW YORK -- The first piece of the BCS puzzle has been
revealed and LSU appears to be a good bet to join Ohio State in the
national championship game.

The USA Today coaches' poll released Sunday had Ohio State as a
comfortable No. 1, which was no surprise. The Buckeyes received 46
first-place votes and 1,469 points.

LSU, the Southeastern Conference champions which less than two
weeks ago lost for the second time, was a solid No. 2 in the
coaches' poll. The Tigers had 1,418 points.

The Bowl Championship Series uses the coaches' poll, the Harris
poll and a compilation of computer ratings to determine which teams
play in the national title game on Jan. 7 in New Orleans.

The two polls count for two-thirds of a team's BCS average, and
points received, not just rankings, are taken into account. The
computer ratings make up the other third of a team's BCS average.

BCS analyst Jerry Palm said Sunday in a phone interview that
Ohio State and LSU are both likely to be among the top three teams
in the computer ratings. If so, it would take a dramatic difference
in the Harris poll to keep LSU from grabbing the second spot in the
final BCS standings and a matchup with Ohio State at the Superdome.

"Unless Oklahoma is No. 1 and USC is No. 2 ... Unless we see
something totally off the wall in the Harris poll," Palm said LSU
is safe.

The Harris poll was due out later Sunday and the BCS matchups
were to be revealed Sunday night.

Oklahoma was a distant third in the coaches' poll with 1,331
points, followed by Georgia (1,277 points), Virginia Tech (1,242
points) and Southern California (1,227 points).

After Missouri and West Virginia lost Saturday night, it opened
the way for a team with two losses to play for a BCS national
championship for the first time.

Barring another wacky turn of events in a season full of them,
LSU will be the lucky two-time loser.