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Trojans Are the People’s Pick in BCS

Times Staff Writer

USC returned to the top of Monday’s bowl championship series standings, and this time it could be for good.

After a one-week hiccup in which Texas occupied the top spot by the margin of .0007, USC may have restored whatever order can be made of the controversial BCS by regaining the No. 1 position in the race for this season’s national title game in the Jan. 4 Rose Bowl.

USC, winners of 30 consecutive games and coming off a 55-13 rout of Washington State, checked in first with a BCS average of .9767, which puts the Trojans .0038 ahead of No. 2 Texas.

Virginia Tech remained third this week at .9294, ahead of No. 4 Alabama at .8695 and No. 5 UCLA at .7874.

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Alabama and UCLA each moved up one spot as a result of the loss by Georgia, No. 4 in last week’s standings, to Florida.

USC (at .940) and Texas (at 1.000) own the same computer averages as last week, but the Trojans picked up enough points in the two human polls, Harris and USA Today coaches’, to make up the .0007.

USC figures to strengthen its grip on No. 1 if it keeps winning against a schedule that includes three schools ranked in this week’s BCS: No. 23 California, No. 24 Fresno State and No. 5 UCLA.

Texas has no ranked schools left on its regular-season schedule, although the Longhorns could face BCS No. 22 Colorado in the Big 12 Conference title game.

The top two teams in the final BCS standings, released Dec. 4, will play for the BCS national championship.

If the top three teams win out, the question may become whether Virginia Tech can catch Texas for the No. 2 spot.

The Hokies, who play host to BCS No. 6 Miami on Saturday, trail Texas by .0435 and closed to within 54 points of the Longhorns in the coaches’ poll.

Last week, Virginia Tech trailed No. 2 USC by .0592.

Virginia Tech plays a tougher schedule than Texas down the stretch, but it also could depend on how BCS-ranked schools the Longhorns have already defeated -- Ohio State, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas Tech -- finish the season.

If Virginia Tech beats Miami in Blacksburg on Saturday, the Hokies are probably headed for a showdown against BCS No. 9 Florida State in the first Atlantic Coast Conference title game on Dec. 3 in Jacksonville, Fla.

Texas is No. 1 in all six BCS computers this week, and USC and Virginia are tied for second in that index.

UCLA, which rallied from a 24-3, fourth-quarter deficit on Saturday to beat Stanford, has moved from ninth, to sixth and to fifth in the first three BCS standings.

“We have a lot to prove,” Bruin quarterback Drew Olson said. “There’s definitely no satisfaction being fifth in the BCS. ... What matters to us is to go out there and win games.”

The Bruins remain a contender in the national title race because they are the only team in the mix that plays No.1 USC in the regular season.

UCLA needs to defeat Arizona and Arizona State the next two weeks to bring a 10-0 record into the Dec. 3 game against USC at the Coliseum.

“Given the nature of our last game, the BCS rankings are the least of our worries,” UCLA Coach Karl Dorrell said of his team’s close call against Stanford.

Notre Dame, No. 14 in the BCS this week, isn’t in the national title race, but the 5-2 Irish are watching the standings closely because they need nine wins and a top-12 ranking to qualify for one of two at-large BCS bowl berths.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

BCS standings

USC retakes the No. 1 spot from Texas (Complete voting for the top 15, D6):

*--* Rk Team (W-L) Avg. Prv. 1. USC (8-0) 9767 2 2. Texas (8-0) 9729 1 3. Virginia Tech (8-0) 9294 3 4. Alabama (8-0) 8695 5 5. UCLA (8-0) 7874 6 6. Miami (6-1) 7566 7 7. Penn State (8-1) 6905 9 8. Louisiana St. (6-1) 6875 8 9. Florida State (7-1) 6277 10 10. Ohio State (6-2) 5967 13

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Times staff writer Lonnie White contributed to this report.


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