Oklahoma, Oregon Top First BCS Poll

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Now the race for college football's title can really begin.

Oklahoma topped the first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings this weekend, stealing the thunder of both Oregon and Boise State, the two top ranked teams in the polls, reports ESPN.

The BCS, which employs a mix of human-determined rankings and computer selection methods to determine the two teams that play in the national title game, slotted the Sooners, ranked third in the most current Associated Press poll, in the driver's seat to head to Glendale, Arizona, in January. If the game were held today, they would play the high-scoring Ducks, who came in second in the first BCS rankings, despite topping the A.P. poll.

Upstart Boise State came in third, but will need a lot of help to ascend to the title game as the Western Athletic Conference, of which they are a member, does not get an automatic bid to the BCS. The Broncos seemed to be in a good position to crack the top two in the rankings by virtue of a dramatic win over then number 10 Virginia Tech to open the season, but as the Hokies have faltered, that win has diminished in importance and their weak conference schedule has caught up to them.

The SEC's top team is the Auburn Tigers, who took the fourth slot, and are followed by the Horned Frogs of TCU, another team that hails from a conference without an automatic bid. LSU is the sixth team in the rankings. Michigan State, Alabama, Utah, Ohio State, Missouri and Stanford round out the top dozen teams.

In the 12 year history of the BCS, 20 of the 24 squads that eventually played for the title were ranked in the top five in the first set of rankings. No team outside the top 12 has ever gotten to the championship game.

Both Oklahoma and Oregon have clear paths to the BCS title game; win out and they should hold their positions. Oklahoma still has to face two currently undefeated teams; they have a showdown with #18 Missouri October 23 and then take on in-state rival, #17 Oklahoma State, November 27. Should they remain undefeated, they would likely face Missouri, Kansas State or Nebraska in the Big XII title game.

Oregon does not have to contend with a title game, though they do have to travel to Los Angeles to take on USC and then face a stiff test at home against #15 Arizona.

Should either of those teams falter, Auburn seems most likely to benefit, given its wins over ranked South Carolina and Arkansas teams. They face #6 LSU October 23 and #8 Alabama November 26. The Iron Bowl could be especially important this year if Alabama wins out - not a given with LSU and Mississippi State left to play - because a win over the hated Tigers would move the Crimson Tide into the SEC championship and give them a shot at playing in the BCS title game with one loss.

Selected Reading: ESPN, Sportsline, CNNSI

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