Southern California took the top spot Monday in the season's first Bowl Championship Series standings, but surprisingly Miami is ahead of Oklahoma in a close race for the second spot.
Oklahoma is No. 2 behind USC in both The Associated Press Top 25 and coaches poll. Put in place after last season's split national championship, the new BCS formula relies more on the human polls than ever before — each counts for one-third of a team's total score after the BCS.
The other third is made up of a compilation of six computer rankings, and that's where Miami made up the difference over the Sooners. The Hurricanes are ranked fourth in the AP media poll and third in the coaches poll, but have the second-most points in the computer rankings.
Oklahoma, which benefited from the old system last season, was fifth in the computer rankings. Each team's highest and lowest computer ranking is tossed out before an average is reached.
The Orange Bowl will host the top two teams in the final BCS standings on Jan. 4 for the national title.
USC, No. 1 in each of the major polls all season, has a big lead in the BCS with a score of .9912 out of a possible 1.000. Miami's score is .9187, while Oklahoma graded out to .9161.
Auburn is fourth with a score of .9036 and Florida State (.8072) is fifth. The Seminoles, with one loss, are ahead of two unbeaten teams — Wisconsin (.7255) and Utah (.7251).
The Utes, ranked ninth in the AP poll and 10th in the ESPN/USA Today poll, are in position to become the first team from outside the six major conferences to earn a bid to one of the four big-ticket BCS games.
The champions from the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, Pac-10 and Southeastern Conference make up six of the eight teams in the four BCS games — the Orange, Sugar, Rose and Fiesta bowls. The other two spots go to wild-card teams.
Finishing in the top six in the BCS standings also guarantees a team a BCS bowl bid. A top-12 ranking in the final BCS standings is necessary to be eligible for one of the wild-card spots.
Utah plays in the Mountain West Conference and has a 3-0 record this season against teams from BCS conferences.
Boise State, the other unbeaten team from a mid-major conference, was 14th in the first BCS standings.
The BCS changed its formula for determining which teams play for the national title after last season, when USC finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in both polls, but third in the BCS standings and was left out of the title game.