Archive for Tuesday, November 23, 2004

OU, USC closing in on national title game

November 23, 2004

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Southern California vs. Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl appears to be three victories away -- two by USC and one by the Sooners.

USC and Oklahoma held the top two spots in the Bowl Championship Series standings on Monday, leaving little doubt that they are in control of the national title race.

Unbeaten Auburn is stuck in third place behind the first-place Trojans and second-place Sooners. The Tigers look as if they'll be the team left out of the Orange Bowl no matter how they do in the Southeastern Conference championship game on Dec. 4 against Tennessee.

USC finishes the season against Notre Dame on Saturday and UCLA on Dec. 4.

"For us, it's a playoff run," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "We want to see how far we can take it. Every game is a championship game."

The Sooners still have to play the Big 12 title game against either Iowa State or Colorado.

Only an unexpected loss or a dramatic shift in the polls, where USC is a solid No. 1 and Oklahoma holds a slight advantage over Auburn for second, could derail a Trojans-Sooners matchup.

Not only did Oklahoma, with a BCS grade of .9642, slightly increase its lead over Auburn (.9356) from last week to .0286, but the Sooners also made a big gain on USC. The Trojans' .9789 grade is their lowest of the season. Their lead on Oklahoma is down to .0147.

USC was idle last week while Oklahoma was shutting out Baylor 35-0 on Saturday. Auburn trailed at the half before beating Alabama 21-13.

California (.8504) is in fourth place, Texas (.8301) fifth and Utah (.8172) sixth. The Utes (11-0) finished their season on Saturday with a 52-21 win over Mountain West Conference rival BYU, all but ensuring themselves of being the first team from a non-BCS conference to play in a BCS game.

Fox lands deal for BCS

New York -- Fox will be the new television home of the Bowl Championship Series. The network and the BCS announced a four-year, $80 million deal Monday that gives Fox the broadcast rights to the Fiesta, Orange and Sugar bowls from 2007-10 and the national title game from 2007-09.

ABC has held the broadcast rights to the BCS since college football's major conferences implemented the system to crown a national champion in 1998.

ABC withdrew from the bidding last week, saying it was unhappy with the BCS structure.

No bowls for Clemson, South Carolina after fight

Columbia, S.C. -- Clemson and South Carolina will not accept bowl bids, punishment for players who brawled toward the end of Saturday's game. Both teams qualified for the postseason with 6-5 records.

South Carolina coach Lou Holtz retired Monday, clearing the way for the Gamecocks to introduce Steve Spurrier as his replacement today. The 67-year-old Holtz goes out with 249 victories, eighth most in Division I-A. At each of his six schools -- William & Mary, North Carolina State, Arkansas, Minnesota, Notre Dame and the Gamecocks -- Holtz went to bowl games by his second season. He posted a 110-30-2 record in 11 seasons at Notre Dame, winning the national title in 1988.

Spurrier, 59, won six SEC titles and the 1996 national in 12 seasons at Florida. Spurrier abruptly left Gainesville and his alma mater after the 2001 season, taking over the Washington Redskins. Spurrier resigned after two seasons with a 12-20 record.

Turner fired by Illinois

Champaign, Ill. -- Ron Turner was fired by Illinois on Monday after three straight losing seasons. Illinois went 3-8 this season and has just one conference victory the past two years. Turner had two seasons left on his contract, which pays him $1.1 million per year. Turner went 35-57 record with two bowl trips and a Big Ten title in eight seasons at Illinois.

San Jose State coach quits

San Jose, Calif. -- San Jose State coach Fitz Hill resigned Monday with one game left in his fourth straight losing season. Hill, one of five black head coaches in Division I-A, will coach San Jose State's season finale against Fresno State on Saturday.

DeLone will suit up Huskers

Lincoln, Neb. -- Nebraska offensive lineman Darren DeLone, who faces a felony assault charge in Oklahoma, will suit up for Friday's game against Colorado, coach Bill Callahan said Monday. DeLone was released on his own recognizance following a court appearance Monday in Oklahoma.

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