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UM leads BCS, barely

Miami finally moved atop the Bowl Championship Series standings by the slimmest of margins.

The defending national champion Hurricanes squeaked past Ohio State, which needed overtime to beat Illinois 23-16 Saturday, by .01 points in the standings released Monday. The top BCS teams have never been closer.

Miami, No. 1 in the AP media and coaches' polls, has 3.69 points to top the standings for the first time this season, while Ohio State has 3.70 points. Washington State is third with 9.11 points.

The tight margin will be meaningless if Ohio State (12-0) and Miami (9-0), the only unbeaten teams remaining, win the rest of their games. The top teams in the final BCS standings released Dec. 8 play in the national title game Jan. 3 at the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.

"The BCS really hasn't entered my mind," Miami coach Larry Coker said. "I don't think it's entered the minds of our players much. It's one of those things that's totally out of our control."

The Buckeyes' close win over Illinois was partly to blame for their drop. Ohio State lost the No. 1 spot in the New York Times computer poll to Miami this week, increasing its computer-rank average to 1.50 while the Hurricanes' dropped to 1.33.

ARKANSAS: Former defensive lineman Jermaine Brooks pleaded innocent to seven felony counts of drug and weapons charges filed after police said they bought marijuana from him at his apartment.

AUSTIN PEAY: Coach Bill Schmitz was fired. Schmitz was 19-46 in six seasons but 7-5 this season, the school's first winning mark since 1984. Athletic director Dave Loos cited "philosophical differences."

CAL: The NCAA upheld its one-year bowl ban but restored nine scholarships it revoked after finding academic fraud and other infractions in 1999.

INDIANA (PA.): Five players suspended for a postgame fight asked a court to reinstate them for Saturday's NCAA Division II playoff game. In the complaint filed in Indiana County Court, the players, four of whom are starters, contend the decision of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission and commissioner Steve Murray was arbitrary and capricious.

KINGS POINT: Offensive coordinator Tim McNulty will replace Charlie Pravata as coach after the season. Pravata will become assistant athletic director for recruitment and retention.

MARSHALL: Quarterback Byron Leftwich has not returned to practice since injuring his left shin Nov. 2 and is questionable for Saturday's game at Ohio. Stan Hill is listed as the starter.

MICHIGAN: Sophomore defensive back Zia Combs, taken off the field last month with his head immobilized, won't play again for the Wolverines. Coach Lloyd Carr declined to give details about Combs' injury.

TENNESSEE: Quarterback Casey Clausen returned to practice after a week off and was optimistic he would play Saturday against Vanderbilt. Clausen sprained his right foot and ankle Nov. 9 in the first half against Miami.

WISCONSIN: Star receiver Lee Evans will have a second operation for a knee injury that has sidelined him this season. Evans, who led the Big Ten in receiving last season, is scheduled for surgery this week and is expected to need six months to recover.

WYOMING: Coach Vic Koenning was fired with his team at 2-9 with one game left. Koenning is 5-28 in three seasons as coach.

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