The Florida Gators and running back Mike Gillislee, gaining yards in a win… (Frederick Breedon / Getty…)
The first release of the Bowl Championship Series standings Sunday provided quite a surprise.
Alabama opened at No. 1, as expected, but Florida is No. 2 ahead of Oregon.
Alabama is first with an index average of .976, followed by Florida at .909 and Oregon close behind at .899.
Oregon is No. 2 in both polls used in the BCS formula, USA Today and Harris, but is lagging behind in the computer component.
Kansas State is fourth, followed by Notre Dame, Louisiana State, South Carolina, Oregon State, Oklahoma and USC.
The top two schools in the final standings will play for the BCS title on Jan. 7 in South Florida.
It was no surprise the Southeastern Conference opened with four teams in the BCS top 10 (plus Georgia at No. 11). The SEC has won the last six BCS titles and eight of the 14 championship games contested.
Oklahoma charting in the BCS top 10 is also not news, as the Sooners are the all-time leaders with 20 weeks spent at No. 1.
Conspicuously missing from the top tier, however, is the Big Ten Conference and USC.
The Big Ten added Nebraska last year, thinking that would be an improvement, while USC was this year’s preseason No.1 in the Associated Press poll.
USC is well off the pace at No. 10 but not out of contention.
The record for BCS crawl-backs belongs to Louisiana State, which won the BCS title in 2003 from the No. 12 position in the first standings.
There were fresh BCS faces in Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oregon State.
This is, in fact, rarefied BCS air. For all its clout and history, Notre Dame has not been much of a BCS player. The Irish have never been No. 1 in the BCS standings. They were No. 3 the first two weeks of 2002, the year they started 8-0, and reached No. 5 for two weeks in 2006.
Kansas State was a kingpin in 1998, the first year of the BCS, when a loss to Texas A&M in the Big 12 title game cost the Wildcats a chance to play in the inaugural BCS title game.
Kansas State ended up No. 3 and dropped all the way to the Alamo Bowl.
The Wildcats finished No. 5 in the final 1999 standings and rallied to No. 8 last year after starting No. 11.
Oregon State had a run at glory under Dennis Erickson in 2000, finishing No. 6 to earn the Fiesta Bowl bid, in which the Beavers routed Notre Dame, 41-9.
The Beavers last made the standings as No. 18 in the final release of 2009.
This looks like a long year, though, for the Big Ten. Ohio State at 6-0 is restricted from participation this year because of NCAA probation.
The Buckeyes have been the Big Ten’s power lifters in the BCS, tied for second with USC for most weeks (15) spent at No. 1.
Ohio State also owns the BCS record with 12 consecutive weeks spent at the top spot (last eight weeks of 2006, first four weeks of 2007).
The Big Ten’s potential woes could possibly benefit a team from a non-automatic qualifying conference.
BCS rules stipulate the highest ranked "non-AQ" champion in the top 12 earns a major bowl bid. It also earns a bid, though, if it finishes in the top 16 ahead of an AQ champion.
The Big Ten, without Ohio State, is going have a difficult time getting its champion inside the top 16.
Louisiana Tech, leaders of the WAC, probably lost its chance Saturday night when its furious rally fell short in a 59-57 loss to Texas A&M in Shreveport.
Boise State opened at No. 22 and still has a chance to creep into the top 16.
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