ESPN has released their final regular season football rankings. The top five:

1. USC (37) 11-1 1,542 2
2. LSU (18) 12-1 1,516 3
3. Oklahoma (8) 12-1 1,449 1
4. Michigan 10-2 1,393 4
5. Texas 10-2 1,272 6

The speculation on ESPN’s Sports Reporters this morning was that USC would wind up #1 in both of the major polls but wind up third in the BCS rankings because of the computer ranking methods. Brad Edwards has the details:

Despite another strong performance on the field by USC, the Trojans’ BCS position was weakened due to losses by two of their opponents, Notre Dame and Hawaii.

This, combined with Saturday’s other results, will allow LSU to finish eight spots better than USC in schedule strength. LSU will now be able to overcome a one-point poll deficit to USC, as long as it leads the Trojans in at least six of the seven BCS computers (which should definitely happen).

USC’s only remaining hope is to jump to No. 1 in both polls and have Oklahoma fall only to No. 2 in either poll. LSU can overcome a one-point poll deficit to USC, but the Tigers can’t make up the difference if it is a point-and-a-half or more.

And the ultimate disaster scenario for the BCS still looms. If Oklahoma falls to No. 3 in both polls, and USC moves to No. 1, the Trojans will still fall to No. 3 in the BCS Standings. The founders of the BCS certainly realized this was mathematically possible, but it’s doubtful they thought it could ever take place. Ready or not, here it comes!

If that does happen, I’d say the BCS is finished. Indeed, one wonders if some of the Coaches’ AP Poll voters won’t take this into consideration and artificially lower LSU or Oklahoma to ensure USC gets a Sugar Bowl slot?

FILED UNDER: Sports, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. ESPN’s poll is the coaches’ poll; I think you mean the AP poll (which the ballots were already due for, so it’s too late for them to pull this out of the fire; besides, it’s in the AP voters’ interest for this to be totally Kerryed-up).

    IMHO the 8 coaches who ranked OU #1 should be fired by their institutions, then summarily executed. The #1 team in the country doesn’t lose by more points in one game than 9-3 Ole Miss lost by all season. As I wrote last night, OU doesn’t deserve to be ranked ahead of Michigan.

  2. James Joyner says:

    That’s right. I still think of UPI as the Coaches’ Poll and AP as the Writers’ Poll. I can never remember which is which nowadays since USA Today and ESPN are involved.