Oklahoma to face LSU for BCS title

Posted: Monday, December 08, 2003

College football fans, get ready to crown not just one, but possibly two national champions.

That's because the computer rankings had Oklahoma as the country's top team Sunday while the human poll voters picked Southern California.

It's exactly what the Bowl Championship Series was designed to avoid, with the prospect of a split title certain to renew cries for a playoff.

''I don't think anyone will know who the legitimate national champion is unless all three teams in consideration get the opportunity to play one another,'' LSU coach Nick Saban said.

Despite getting walloped by Kansas State 35-7 on Saturday night, Oklahoma will take its 12-1 record to the Sugar Bowl against LSU, which won the Southeastern Conference championship by beating Georgia 34-13.

The winner in New Orleans on Jan. 4 automatically captures the coaches' title under the BCS format.

USC, which finished third in the BCS rankings, could win The Associated Press championship by beating No. 4 Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

''I'm not an expert on this, but if the No. 1 team at the end of the regular season wins its bowl game, how are they not the No. 1 team outright?'' USC receiver Mike Williams asked.

When the BCS contract expires after the 2005 season, a one-game championship might be instituted after the bowls. That would be too late to fix this year's mess.

''The No. 1 team is not playing in the game that they're billing as the championship game,'' USC coach Pete Carroll said. ''Something didn't come out right.''

In the final BCS standings, Oklahoma was first with 5.11 points based on its top spot in five of the seven computers, the 11th-toughest schedule and a quality win over Texas. The Sooners were third in both polls.

''At the end of the year, we're No. 1 in the system,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. ''There's nothing to apologize for.''

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