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Ohio St. Sits Atop New BCS Poll

The unpredictability of the Bowl Championship Series rankings became apparent Monday, when the top two teams changed in just its second week of existence, although none of the top four lost.

Ohio State (8-0) moved from second to first, with Tennessee (7-0) jumping one slot to second. UCLA (7-0), which was in the top spot just a week ago, saw the effects of its narrow 28-24 victory over Stanford -- which has one victory -- in a No. 3 BCS ranking. Kansas State (8-0) remained fourth, though its overall number improved slightly.

Where the lower score is better, Ohio State has 3.71 points to 5.70 for Tennessee, 6.62 for UCLA and 8.05 for Kansas State.

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  • Ohio State has been the top-ranked team in both the coaches and media polls since the start of the season, but UCLA held that distinction in the three computer polls last week, helping the Bruins claim the top slot in the BCS.

    That changed this week, when Ohio State claimed the No. 1 spot in the New York Times poll, second in the ratings by Jeff Sagarin and third by the Anderson & Hester/Seattle Times computer.

    Tennessee does not have the top spot in any of the ratings, but benefited from UCLA's drop in the conventional ESPN/USA Today (coaches) and Associated Press (media) polls.

    If these were the final BCS ratings, the Volunteers would play Ohio Sate for the national championship in the Fiesta Bowl, though the crown would be disputed. UCLA would lay claim to the top spot, which it still holds in the New York Times poll, though it is now fourth in three of the other four rankings. Kansas State also could back up its case with a top ranking from Sagarin.

    After the four unbeatens, Florida (7-1) is fifth, followed by Florida State (8-1), Texas A&M (8-1), Wisconsin (8-0), Penn State (6-1) and Arizona (8-1).

    Another unbeatren team, Arkansas (7-0), is 11th and needs only to win against Mississippi this weekend to set up a showdown at Tennessee on Nov. 14th.

    Following the Razorbacks are No. 12 Nebraska (7-2), which fell after a 20-16 loss to Texas that halted its school-record 47-game home winning streak, and Notre Dame (6-1), which plays three of its final four games on the road.

    Texas (6-2) holds the 14th slot, with Virginia (7-1), Tulane (7-0) and Syracuse (5-2) rounding out the poll.

    The top six schools in the final BCS rankings in December are guaranteed a trip to the Fiesta Bowl or one of the other BCS bowls -- the Orange, Rose and Sugar.

    The BCS weighs the old-fashioned subjective polls of the media and coaches, and the ratings of the three respective computers, in addition to an index to determine strength of schedule, and win-loss record.

    The BCS bowls -- formerly the Bowl Alliance or Super Alliance games -- each will continue to have their respective conference ties. When applicable, the Rose Bowl will get the Pac-10 and Big Ten winners. The Orange Bowl deals with the Atlantic Coast and Big East and the Sugar with the Southeastern Conference.

    The bowl component is determined on the simple average ranking between the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll and the Associated Press media poll. The average ranking is the number of points awarded in the BCS.

    The computer ratings will be averaged to make the second component of the formula, though there is a built-in safety net should a team be ranked considerably lower by one of the machines.

    To reach the adjusted number, the average of the two highest rankings is determined first. Then 50 percent of that number is taken and added to the average of the two highest, creating a new, third number. The average of the top two computer numbers and the new third number are averaged to create the value taken into account in the BCS formula.

    Eleven of the 17 teams ranked this week had the safety net kick in, but it helped Tulane the most, as the Green Wave were ranked 94th by the New York Times.

    Strength of schedule takes into account the win-loss record of a school's opponents and the marks of the opposition's opponents at the end of the season. The opponent's record is two-thirds of the BCS mark and the opposition's opponents comprise the other third.

    When the national strength of schedule placing is determined, it is divided by 25 to give the BCS point total, which favors low nubers.

    The final component is win-loss record, where a loss results in the addition of a BCS standings point.

    All four of the individual component numbers are added together to come up with the final BCS standings number. The team with the lowest number in the BCS index is the top team.

    © 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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