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USC leapfrogs Michigan as UF's title hopes fade

Florida's chances of playing in college football's title game went from slim to slimmer Sunday when the Bowl Championship Series standings were released.

With a 44-24 win over Notre Dame on Saturday, Southern Cal pushed idle Michigan out of the No. 2 spot. If the Trojans (10-1) defeat UCLA this weekend, they would play No. 1 Ohio State (12-0) for the national championship Jan. 8 in Glendale, Ariz. It would be USC's third straight trip to the BCS title game, in which it is 1-1.

Michigan (11-1), No. 2 last week despite its 42-39 loss to Ohio State, fell to No. 3. Michigan led USC by .0075 last week; this week USC's lead is .0244.

Florida (11-1) remained No. 4 in the BCS standings after beating Florida State 21-14. Even if USC loses Saturday, analysts say it would be difficult for the Gators to overtake Michigan.

"I will say this," Florida coach Urban Meyer said, "I think the BCS has done the best they possibly could in a very difficult situation. Anybody that thinks logically, it's not the best system, but it's probably the best at this time. Our focus is on Arkansas. ... Once again when I hear our league compared to other leagues, I kind of scratch my head. I'm one of those guys that has coached against a lot of those other leagues. And there is no finer league in the country than the SEC."

The BCS system weighs three factors equally: the coaches' poll, Harris Interactive poll and the average of six computer rankings. The distance between No. 3 Michigan and No. 2 USC increased from 16 to 46 points in the coaches' poll and 21 to 97 in the Harris poll.

Michigan also fell from No. 2 to No. 3 in the AP poll. Florida remained No. 4 but pulled closer to the No. 3 team, the Wolverines, though its deficit increased in the coaches' and Harris polls.

LSU's upset of Arkansas on Friday dropped the Razorbacks from No. 6 in the BCS to No. 9. LSU moved from 10th to No. 5.

BCS rules state no more than two teams from the same conference can go to a BCS game. Although Orange Bowl officials have expressed an interest in the Gators, a loss in the SEC title game would give Arkansas the automatic BCS berth and drop Florida below LSU in the BCS standings.

USC has locked up the Pac-10's automatic BCS bid, but the Rose Bowl would be a letdown.

"I think we're a pretty good team right now," said USC coach Pete Carroll, whose only loss was 33-31 to Oregon State on Oct. 28 in Corvallis. "We'll play anybody, anywhere."

Unbeaten Boise State moved up to eighth place and will become the second team from outside the original BCS conferences to play in one of the four big-dollar games, likely the Fiesta Bowl.

Notre Dame dropped five spots to 10th and no longer can earn an automatic BCS bid. It needed to be in the top eight. By finishing in the top 12, however, the Irish would be eligible for an at-large bid.

Information from the Associated Press was used in the report.

FAST FACTS

BCS standings

As of now, Ohio State would face USC for the title:

1. Ohio State 1.0000

2. Southern Cal .9460

3. Michigan .9216

4. Florida .8897

5. LSU .8106

6. Louisville .7618

7. Wisconsin .7096

8. Boise State .6744

9. Arkansas .6616

10. Notre Dame .6262

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