No. 3 Nittany Lions lurk

The Baltimore Sun

Penn State surged in the Bowl Championship Series standings after its big victory at Ohio State, closing the gap on first-place Texas and second-place Alabama yesterday.

Still, the Nittany Lions are in danger of being unbeaten and left out of the BCS national championship game.

The Longhorns were again first by far in all the polls and on top of all the computer rankings. Staying undefeated won't be easy for Texas, which plays at Texas Tech on Saturday, but if Colt McCoy and crew can finish unbeaten, a trip to Miami for the Jan. 8 title game will be theirs.

The top two teams in the final BCS standings play for the national title.

Texas' .9981 BCS average is the third highest since the current formula, which counts the USA Today coaches' poll and Harris poll for two-thirds of the grade and a compilation of six computers for the other third, was put in place in 2004.

The Crimson Tide (.9499) was a solid second in the polls, and second in all but one of the computer ratings.

Penn State's 13-6 victory over Ohio State helped in the computer rankings and pushed its average to .9257. The problem for the Nittany Lions is the perceived weakness of the Big Ten in comparison to the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12.

After a week off, Penn State plays at Iowa (5-3) and finishes the season with home games against Indiana (3-5) and Michigan State (7-2).

It's unlikely those opponents will help lift Penn State into one of the top two spots if the Crimson Tide wins the SEC and Longhorns win the Big 12.

The rest of the top five remained the same, with Oklahoma (.8270) fourth and Southern California (.7822) fifth.

Georgia (.7703) is sixth, Texas Tech (.7431) is seventh and Florida (.7295) is eighth. All could make big jumps next week - or take substantial falls.

The Red Raiders get Texas in Lubbock, the second of four games against currently ranked teams.

The Bulldogs and Gators meet in Jacksonville, Fla., with the winner getting the inside track to the play in the SEC title game with national championship hopes.

Tenth-place Utah and 11th-place Boise State are both in position to earn an automatic BCS bid, but only one is reserved for teams from the non-BCS leagues that finish in the top 12 of the BCS standings.

AP poll:: Texas Tech has its highest ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 in 32 years, and a chance to make another momentous leap coming up. The Red Raiders moved up to No. 6 in the poll as they get ready to host No. 1 Texas. A second consecutive weekend when highly ranked teams ruled produced little change at the top of the media rankings. Texas is a unanimous No. 1 for the second week in a row, receiving all 65 first-place votes, and the rest of the top five remained the same: No. 2 Alabama, followed by Penn State, Oklahoma and Florida. No. 7 Southern California slipped a spot after edging Arizona, 17-10, on Saturday night. No. 8 Georgia moved up a spot heading into its huge Southeastern Conference game against East Division rival Florida. No. 9 Oklahoma State dropped two spots after losing, 28-24, in Austin to the Longhorns.

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