Nov. 15, 2004 wire reports

Oklahoma's hold on second place in the Bowl Championship Series standings is getting more precarious by the week.


Auburn more than halved its deficit to the Sooners for the all-important second spot in the latest BCS rankings released Monday.

Southern California (10-0), which is ranked first in both human polls, once again maintained the top spot with an average of .9808 -- slightly down from last week's .9847.

Oklahoma (10-0), which beat Nebraska 30-3 Saturday had an average of .9664 last week but slipped to .9621 despite maintaining the top computer average.

Auburn (10-0), ranked third in the computer rankings, improved from .9097 to .9350 after cruising past then-No. 5 Georgia, 24-6. The Tigers tied the Sooners for second in the media poll and narrowly were third in the coaches poll, which helped reduce its deficit from .567 to .271 to the Sooners in the BCS standings.

How long can Jason White and Oklahoma hold on to the No. 2 ranking?(AP)
California (8-1) held on to fourth at .8522, while Texas (9-1) and Utah (10-0) jumped up one spot each to fifth and sixth at .8140 and .8062, respectively, after Wisconsin fell from fifth to 13th with a 49-14 loss at Michigan State.

If Utah remains in the top six when the final BCS poll is released Dec. 5, it will become the first team from outside the six conferences to earn a berth in one of the four lucrative BCS bowl games.

Michigan (.7494), which can secure the Big Ten Conference title with a victory at archrival Ohio State this week, moved up two spots to seventh. Florida State (.5876), Boise State (.5843) and Louisville (.5602) complete the top 10.

At the end of last season, USC was ranked first in both the media and coaches polls, but sat third in the BCS standings behind Louisiana State and Oklahoma, which went on the play in the Sugar Bowl.

LSU beat the Sooners, while USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl, leading to a split national championship and an overhaul of the BCS formula.

This year, the formula consists of three evenly weighed elements: a team's percentage of points in both the media poll and coaches polls and an average of four computer ratings. The formula no longer has a strength-of-schedule component -- though the computers do account for it -- nor are teams penalized a point for each loss or rewarded for a quality victory.

The teams' poll percentages consist of their number of voting points divided by the maximum amount available in each poll, 1,625 in the media poll and 1,525 in the coaches' poll. These numbers better reflect how writers and coaches view relative differences between the teams than a straight average of the two polls.

Six computer rankings are used this season: Anderson & Hester, Jeff Sagarin, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey and Peter Wolfe. The best and worst rating for each team is ignored, with the remaining four totals added together and divided by 100 to produce a ratings percentage.

BCS members include the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conferences as well as Notre Dame.

The format calls for the championship game to be rotated among the Orange, Rose, Sugar and Fiesta Bowls.

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