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Monday, November 20
Miami will have tough time jumping FSU

By Brad Edwards
Special to

It may seem impossible, but things are starting to get even more controversial in Florida.

BCS Rankings
1. Oklahoma
2. Florida St.
3. Miami
4. Washington
5. Oregon St.

With today's release of the BCS Rankings, it appears unlikely that Miami could finish in the top two without a loss by Oklahoma -- but there remains a sliver of hope for the Hurricanes.

Florida State jumped back into the No. 2 position thanks to a 23-point victory over Florida, which vaulted the Seminoles into the top spot of four of the eight computers. Oklahoma is still the top-ranked team overall and will certainly play for the national title if it can win its final two games.

Florida State holds a half-point lead over Miami, but the final margin between the two teams will not be that decisive if Oklahoma wins out. The Sooners should take back the top spot in most -- if not all -- of the computers with a win over Kansas State in the Big 12 title game. This would obviously narrow the gap between FSU and Miami in computer average.

A three-way battle
Team Sag. NYT Sea. Bil. Dun. Mas. S-H Rot.
Oklahoma 1 3 1 2 2 1 2 1
FSU 2 1 4 1 1 2 1 2
Miami 3 2 3 3 3 3 4 3
Note: Bold numbers are areas that could change and the worst ranking is dropped and seven are averaged.
Abbreviations: Sag.-Sagarin; NYT-New York Times; Sea.-Seattle Times; Bil.-Billingsley; Dun.-Dunkel Index; Mas.-Massey; S-H-Scripps-Howard; Rot.-Rothman.

ONLY IF the Sooners reclaim the top spot in ALL computers does Miami have a chance to get past FSU in the final BCS Rankings. This scenario would likely narrow the computer margin to just one point between the Seminoles and Hurricanes, which means the overall No. 2 spot would be won by the team with the better strength of schedule. Right now, FSU projects to have a slightly better schedule strength, though there is an extensive series of results over the final two weeks that could put Miami ahead.

The better hope for the Hurricanes is that a huge margin of victory over Boston College this weekend could jump them over Florida State in the Dunkel Index, which seems to be heavily influenced by scoring margin. That appears to be the only place in any of the eight computers where Miami could possibly improve its standing.

Recapping: IF Oklahoma retakes the No. 1 spot in ALL computers, AND Miami can jump Florida State in the Dunkel Index (which may or may not be possible) then the Hurricanes WILL finish No. 2 in the final BCS Rankings. Otherwise, Miami will need a schedule strength boost from an unlikely series of results that includes Auburn beating Florida in the SEC title game.

If Miami does finish third in the final BCS Rankings, however, the Hurricanes will not have lost all national title hopes. If Florida State was to defeat Oklahoma in the FedEx Orange Bowl, Miami could potentially claim the No. 1 ranking in the final AP poll with a bowl victory of its own. The Hurricanes currently rank second in both polls, but the coaches' poll has an agreement to give its title to the winner of the BCS Championship Game.

Brad Edwards is a college football researcher for ESPN and one of the few people who actually understands the BCS. Edwards will provide a weekly analysis of the BCS rankings.

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