Ala., Texas Tech atop BCS; Penn State 3rd; UM 23rd

The Baltimore Sun

No scoreboard-watching necessary for Texas Tech.

Less than 24 hours after the Red Raiders gave the national championship race a makeover by defeating then-No. 1 Texas, they received more good news when the Bowl Championship Series standings were released yesterday.

Texas Tech was in second place, behind Alabama and just ahead of third-place Penn State.

And Maryland, which had last weekend off, unexpectedly jumped into the standings at No. 23.

If the undefeated Red Raiders of the Big 12 and undefeated Crimson Tide of the Southeastern Conference win out, they will likely meet in the BCS national championship game Jan. 8 in Miami.

Texas Tech jumped into contention by beating Texas, 39-33, Saturday night on Michael Crabtree's 28-yard touchdown catch with a second left.

"It's a big statement for our program," running back Baron Batch said of the win by Texas Tech, which nearly unraveled after leading by 19 points at halftime.

The unbeaten Nittany Lions still need a loss from Alabama or Texas Tech to reach the title game.

The computer rankings made the difference for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech was a close No. 3 behind the Nittany Lions in the USA Today coaches' poll and the Harris Poll. Alabama was a solid No. 1 in each poll.

However, the Red Raiders were tied with Alabama for first in the computer ratings, while Penn State was rated fourth in the compilation of six computer ratings the BCS uses.

Alabama had a BCS average of .9747. Texas Tech was at .9372 and Penn State .9286.

With Texas Tech facing ninth-place Oklahoma State and sixth-place Oklahoma in its next two games, plus a possible Big 12 title game down the road, the Red Raiders should be in position to expand their lead over Penn State if they can keep winning.

The problem for Penn State remains a so-so schedule. It plays at Iowa (5-4) next week, then finishes at home against Indiana (3-6) and Michigan State, 18th in the BCS standings. Ohio State is the only currently ranked team the Nittany Lions have beaten.

Maryland (6-2) is among four Atlantic Coast Conference teams in the BCS standings, with North Carolina at No. 19, Georgia Tech at No. 20 and Florida State at No. 22.

The Terps have won two straight and five of six, including victories over ranked teams California, Clemson and Wake Forest. They became bowl-eligible after beating North Carolina State, 27-24, on Oct. 25 and now sit a half game ahead of Florida State and Wake Forest in the ACC's Atlantic Division at 3-1. Maryland's next game is Thursday at Virginia Tech.

AP poll: Alabama became the fifth team this season to sit atop the Associated Press Top 25, moving up a spot after previously top-ranked Texas was toppled by Texas Tech. The Red Raiders jumped four spots and past No. 3 Penn State to No. 2. The unbeaten Nittany Lions were idle. No. 4 Florida moved up one place after its 49-10 rout of Georgia and Texas dropped four spots to No. 5. The Crimson Tide, which beat Arkansas State, 35-0, received 46 of a possible 65 first-place votes from the media panel and 1,600 points. The top spot in the poll hasn't been held by this many teams since 1990, when Miami, Notre Dame, Colorado, Michigan and Virginia all had a turn at No. 1.

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