New York Only twice in Bowl Championship Series history has a team been in position to reach the title game heading into the final weekend of the regular season and played its way out.
Southern California and Texas will try to avoid tripping up at the finish line Saturday, the way UCLA did in 1998 and Tennessee in 2001.
As they have been all season, the Trojans and Longhorns were atop the BCS standings Monday. USC is first for the fifth time in six weeks. Texas, which was on top for one week, is second again.
The final BCS standings are released Sunday, and the top two teams will play in the Rose Bowl for a national title. USC and Texas are the only unbeaten teams left in Division I-A, but each faces one more test.
USC (11-0) plays rival UCLA (9-1) Saturday at the Coliseum. Texas (11-0) will meet Colorado (7-4) in the Big 12 title game at Reliant Stadium in Houston. Both the Longhorns and Trojans are favored by at least three touchdowns, so only a major upset would prevent them for meeting in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 4.
Penn State is third, ahead of LSU and Virginia Tech, as the entire top 10 was unchanged from last week. It's just the second time in the eight years of the BCS that has happened.
Since the BCS was implemented, nine teams have played games on the final weekend of the season ranked either first or second in the standings. Those teams are 6-3, and none that were No. 1 failed to reach the championship game.
UCLA was second and undefeated in 1998 when it lost 49-45 at Miami in a game rescheduled because of Hurricane Georges earlier in the season. The Bruins missed out on a shot to play Tennessee, which beat Mississippi State in the Southeastern Conference title game later that same day, for a national title.
UCLA's loss, and a loss that same day by unbeaten Kansas State, allowed Florida State to reach the title game against Tennessee. The Volunteers won the Fiesta Bowl and the national championship.
In 2001, Tennessee was second in the BCS standings heading into the SEC title game against LSU. A win would have sent the Volunteers to the Rose Bowl to play Miami for the national title, but they were upset, 31-20. Nebraska, which didn't even make the Big 12 title game, ended up playing -- and losing to -- the Hurricanes.
Oklahoma was No. 1 in the BCS standings when it lost to Kansas State, 35-7, in the Big 12 title game in 2003, but the Sooners still reached the Sugar Bowl to play LSU for the national title. LSU beat Oklahoma to win the BCS title and USC beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl to win the AP national championship.
Ohio State, Oregon, Notre Dame, Miami and Auburn round out this week's BCS top 10.