Texas Takes BCS #1 from USC

Those pesky BCS computers have generated another controversy, stripping undefeated two-time national champion Southern Cal of the top spot in its rankings in favor of the Texas Longhorns.

Texas takes over BCS top spot; USC second (ESPN)

Texas is No. 1 — by a whisker — in the Bowl Championship Series standings. The Longhorns slipped past Southern California into first place Monday thanks to a stellar showing in the BCS computer rankings. Second last week, Texas’ BCS average of .9763 out of a possible 1.000 was just ahead of second-place USC (.9756), the slimmest margin between Nos. 1 and 2 in the eight-year history of the organization.

The top two teams in the final standings play in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4 for the BCS title.

USC is top-ranked in The Associated Press media poll, the USA Today coaches’ poll and the Harris Interactive poll. The coaches’ poll and the Harris poll make up two-thirds of a team’s BCS grade. A compilation of six computer rankings account for the other third, with the highest and lowest ranking for each team dropped. Texas is second in all three polls but gained a few points on USC from voters after a 52-17 victory over previously unbeaten Texas Tech on Saturday. Computer polls, however, weigh heavily on strength of schedule and the win over the Red Raiders gave Texas a big boost.

USC’s 51-24 victory over Washington (1-6) did nothing to help the Trojans in the computer rankings. Struggling Arizona State (3-4) — which was ranked when USC won at Tempe on Oct. 1 — is also hurting the Trojans in the strength-of-schedule category. USC was atop one computer ranking and second in three others. One computer had the Trojans fourth, another fifth.

Despite the slip in this week’s BCS rankings, if the Trojans can maintain their strong grip on No. 1 in each poll, they’ll be tough to catch.

The rankings are academic at this point USC and Texas would meet in the Rose Bowl for the (mythical) national title regardless. While it’s hard to argue that anyone but USC should be number one considering they’re two-time defending champions, they do play a relatively soft schedule and the Longhorns have blown out some ranked teams.

What puzzles me is that Virginia Tech, which has been awesome against a very light schedule, maintains its status ahead of Georgia and Alabama, who are undefeated in the always tough SEC.

BCS standings week 9 2005 season

As the graphic above shows, the human rankings and the BCS computer-aided ones are remarkably similar. What is going to be interesting, though, is the fact that there are an unusual number of major unbeatens with USC, Texas, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Alabama, and UCLA all perfect. USC and UCLA play later this year and, if they both remain unbeaten, Alabama and Georgia will meet in the SEC Championship Game. Still, there is a legitimate shot for four major teams to finish the season with perfect records with only two eligible to play for the championship.

Now that would be controversial.

FILED UNDER: Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,
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. Don Surber says:

    BCS is decided in January, not October

    Go Mountaineers!

  2. the Pirate says:

    It would also be worth considering the Harris poll since the AP is no longer used in BCS rankings.

    I find it difficult to knock USC’s schedule vs the one Texas plays since the Big 12 is less than stellar this year.

  3. bryan says:

    While it’s hard to argue that anyone but USC should be number one considering they’re two-time defending champions, they do play a relatively soft schedule and the Longhorns have blown out some ranked teams.

    Given that defending champions and two-year unbeaten streaks have nothing whatsoever to do with *this* year’s rankings, I don’t find it hard to argue at all, especially given the weak defensive numbers that USC has put up this year. And the PAC 10 is *always* weak, as opposed to the Big-12. Also, don’t forget that Texas played Big-10 powerhouse Ohio State earlier this year. If Ohio State maintains their strong record, that will boost Texas’ rankings even further.