By Ralph D. Russo/The Associated Press
LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State hold the top four spots in the first BCS standings, setting up two potentially huge conference games that could determine which teams play for the national title.
Southeastern Conference rivals first-place LSU and second-place Alabama meet Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The Tigers play defending national champion Auburn at home on Saturday and the Crimson Tide is at Tennessee. If they can get through that, both will be off for a week before a likely No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup that could decide the SEC West.
Third-place Oklahoma and fourth-place Oklahoma State have to wait longer to play their potential Big 12 showdown. The Bedlam rivalry is set for Dec. 3 at Stillwater, Okla.
The only other time the top four teams in the first BCS standings of the season came from two conferences was 2000, when the Big 12 (Nebraska and Oklahoma) and the Big East (Virginia Tech and Miami) did it.
The BCS standings combine the coaches’ poll, Harris poll and a compilation of six computer rankings.
The top four teams in the AP Top 25, which is not part of the BCS standings, were LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma and Wisconsin.
Boise State was fifth in the first BCS standings, in good position to at least earn a spot in the five most lucrative bowl games, if not the BCS championship game on Jan. 9 in New Orleans.
Wisconsin was sixth, followed by fellow undefeated teams Clemson and Stanford. The other two undefeated major college teams are Kansas State in 11th place and Houston in 19th.
With half the season to play, there is still plenty of opportunities to shake up the standings, but for now the focus will be on the SEC and the Big 12.
Seven times in the 13-year history of the Bowl Championship Series, the teams that played in the national championship game were in the top four of the first standings. But teams have also come from has far back as 12th (LSU in 2003) and 10th (Florida in 2008) to play in the title game.
The SEC has produced the last five national champions and Alabama and LSU are on target to put another SEC team in the championship game this season.
After the Tide and Tigers play each other, both would have three more games and a conference championship to get through after the showdown in Tuscaloosa. If the winner on Nov. 5 can stay undefeated, it’ll be off to New Orleans.
In the Big 12, it might not be quite so clear cut.
“I don’t know if I’d go so far to say Oklahoma State controls its own destiny, but Oklahoma does,” said CBS Sports.com’s Jerry Palm, who analyzes the BCS standings.
Oklahoma State is No. 1 in the computer ratings but as Stanford and Wisconsin move into the tougher parts of their schedules, that advantage might go away.
But, as any coach will tell you, it’s to early to get too worried about the rankings.
“Keep winning games and hope for the best,” Palm said.