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National briefs: SEC, Big 12 dominate first BCS standings

October 17, 2011

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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.

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.

College football

K-State up to 12th in poll

Surprising Kansas State has climbed to No. 12 in the Associated Press college football poll, the Wildcats’ best ranking since 2004.

Kansas State improved to 6-0 on Saturday night with a 41-34 comeback victory at Texas Tech and jumped five spots in the rankings released Sunday. It was the fourth straight week coach Bill Snyder’s Wildcats won as underdogs.

The last time Kansas State was ranked this highly was the 2004 preseason poll, when the Wildcats were No. 12.

The top 10 teams in the rankings remained the same after a weekend filled with blowouts. No. 1 LSU received 41 first-place votes, No. 2 Alabama had 11 and No. 3 Oklahoma got six.

The rest of the top 10 was Wisconsin, Boise State (one first-place vote), Oklahoma State, Stanford, Clemson, Oregon and Arkansas.

Golf

Crane takes McGladrey

St. Simons Island, Ga. — Ben Crane knew he was going home Monday to be with his wife for the birth of their third child. He had no reason to believe he would be bringing the McGladrey Classic trophy with him.

Seven shots behind with 11 holes to play, Crane ran off seven birdies to close with a 7-under 63, and then he won the sudden-death playoff when Webb Simpson missed a short par putt on the second extra hole Sunday.

Crane nearly holed his approach on the 14th to start a string of four straight birdies. He had a long two-putt on the par-5 15th, followed by a pair of birdie putts from about 20 feet.

Simpson closed with a 66, despite not making a birdie over his last seven holes.

They finished at 15-under 265 and extended the PGA Tour’s record with the 18th playoff this year. It looked as if it might last more than two holes when Crane made a 5-foot comeback putt for par, and Simpson had a par putt just over 3 feet. But it caught the right lip and spun away, giving Crane his first win of the year.

Couples rolls at AT&T

San Antonio — Fred Couples ran away with the Champions Tour’s AT&T Championship, shooting a bogey-free 6-under 66 for a seven-stroke victory — the largest margin on the 50-and-over tour this year.

Couples opened with rounds of 65 and 62 and finished at 23 under on TPC San Antonio’s Canyons Course. He won for the second time this season and sixth time in two seasons on the tour.

Mark Calcavecchia shot a 66 to finish second. Charles Schwab Cup points leader Tom Lehman and John Cook tied for third at 14 under. They also closed with 66s.

Choi narrow LPGA winner

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi won the LPGA Malaysia for her first LPGA Tour victory of the season and fifth in three years, beating top-ranked Yani Tseng by a stroke.

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