Beware Kansas in the BCS


Beware of Kansas.

LSU moved into the first place in the Bowl Championship Series standings Sunday and Oregon jumped into second place, a day after previous No. — Ohio State was upset by Illinois.

But third-place Kansas is the only remaining unbeaten team in the six conferences with an automatic bid to the BCS and history suggests the Jayhawks will play for a national title if they stay perfect.

An undefeated team from a major conference has never been left out of the BCS national championship game in favor of a one-loss team.

Kansas has a home game against Iowa State on Saturday, then plays Missouri at Kansas City on Nov. 24. Win that one and Kansas goes to the Big 12 championship game, where the most likely opponent will be Oklahoma.

Those games could give the Jayhawks the boost they need in the polls to overtake the Ducks, regardless of how Oregon finishes.

"I think they might even catch LSU," said Jerry Palm, a BCS analyst who runs . "Why not? You're undefeated in a major conference and beat two top-five teams in your final two games."

LSU can rest easier than Oregon. With three games remaining, including the Southeastern Conference championship game on Dec. 1, LSU will likely reach the BCS title game in New Orleans by winning out.

"I don't see LSU doing worse than No. 2 if they win the way they're supposed to," Palm said. "A 10-7 over Mississippi (on Saturday) could change things, because margins matter to voters."

The Ducks also have three games left, but they're past the toughest part of their schedule. The Ducks play at Arizona on Thursday night, have a road game against UCLA on Nov. 24 and finish the season against rival Oregon State at home on Dec. 1.

None of those teams is ranked, so if the Ducks struggle to a victory it could open up an opportunity for not only Kansas, but fourth-place Oklahoma or fifth-place Missouri.

Palm said it will be difficult for the Sooners or Tigers to reach the top two without LSU or Oregon losing.

"I wouldn't expect them to get the same kind of juice an undefeated team would get," he said.

LSU is No. — in both the Harris and coaches' polls and top-rated by the computers. The Tigers have a BCS average of .980.

"Our guys understand what being ranked is about certainly at this point in the year," LSU coach Les Miles said. "Now, we are highly ranked again. That ranking happens to be No. 1. They understand what it means."

Oregon is No. 2 in the polls, but third in the computer ratings, giving the Ducks a BCS average of .938.

Kansas is ranked fourth in both polls, but second in the computer ratings and has a BCS average of .909. Oklahoma, third in the polls and seventh in the computers, is at .854. Missouri is sixth in the polls and fifth in computers for a .810 average.

The Ducks have had their national championship hopes dashed by a Big 12 team before. In 2001, Nebraska got to play Miami for the national title in the Rose Bowl even though the Cornhuskers failed to reach the Big 12 title game.

Oregon was relegated to the Fiesta Bowl, where Joey Harrington and the Ducks beat Colorado 38-16. After Miami pounded Nebraska 37-14, Oregon finished No. 2 in the rankings.

Hawaii, the only other unbeaten team in major college football, remained 16th in the BCS standings and still needs to move up four places by the time the final standings come out on Dec. 2 to earn an automatic BCS berth out of the Western Athletic Conference.

The Warriors (9-0) have games left at Nevada and at home against Boise State and Washington.

Boise State was in 18th-place, giving the Broncos a shot at getting to a big-dollar BCS bowl for the second straight season.

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