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THE RACE FOR NO. 1

Things probably haven’t been this ugly in the state of Florida since just after the 2000 presidential election.

With No. 4 Miami’s stunning 31-28 loss to North Carolina, and No. 5 Florida State’s 20-17 upset defeat to Maryland, suddenly the Sunshine State’s bowl championship series prospects don’t seem quite so certain.

What is certain is that No. 1 USC and No. 2 Oklahoma will maintain the top two spots in the BCS standings. USC’s 42-12 rout of Washington State and Oklahoma’s narrow escape, 38-35, in Stillwater against Oklahoma State, will keep those two on the road to the Orange Bowl.

No. 3 Auburn had a tougher-than-expected victory against Mississippi, 35-14, but added another road win to its resume.

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The biggest beneficiaries from the Miami/Florida State debacles figure to be No. 6 Wisconsin, which was idle, No. 7 California, a 27-0 winner over Arizona State, and No. 9 Utah, which defeated San Diego State, 51-28.

Utah already is ahead of Wisconsin and California in the BCS standings at No. 6 and amazingly could move as high as No. 4 this week.

One-loss teams Georgia (No. 9 in the BCS) and Texas (No. 10 in the BCS) also figure to quietly move up after victories over Florida and Colorado, respectively

-- Jim Barrero

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