Texas passed USC by a narrow margin and moved into first place in the Bowl Championship Series standings Monday, a swap that shouldn't worry...

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Texas passed USC by a narrow margin and moved into first place in the Bowl Championship Series standings Monday, a swap that shouldn’t worry the Trojans too much.

USC and the Longhorns are still heavy favorites to play for the BCS championship on Jan. 4 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Thanks to the computer rankings, Texas slipped into first place by the slimmest of margins — actually the slimmest between Nos. 1 and 2 in the eight-season history of the BCS.

Texas’ average of .9763, of a possible 1.000, was just ahead of USC with .9756.

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Texas coach Mack Brown said after Saturday’s win over Texas Tech that he felt all along everyone was playing for second behind USC, but he welcomed Monday’s news.

“It’s a compliment, because it’s a place we haven’t been in a long time and it sets our standard even higher,” Brown said from Austin, Texas. “We also understand that the percentage points and the rankings can change weekly.”

USC, based on schedule strength, will probably regain the No. 1 position if the Trojans and Texas keep winning by impressive margins.

Texas has no opponents currently ranked in the AP Top 25 left on its schedule. Meanwhile, USC has No. 24 California, No. 22 Fresno State and No. 8 UCLA.

This time, though, the BCS was more impressed with Texas’ 52-17 win over No. 10 Texas Tech than USC’s 51-24 romp against one-win Washington on Saturday.

USC tops the Associated Press media poll, the USA Today coaches poll and the Harris Interactive poll.

The coaches poll and the Harris poll make up two-thirds of a team’s BCS grade. A compilation of six computer rankings account for the other third, with the highest and lowest ranking for each team dropped. Texas was first in all but one of the computer rankings.

“I still don’t know how the BCS rankings really work, except that computers are involved,” USC coach Pete Carroll said.

“And I don’t know how you get mad at a computer.”

USC was atop one computer ranking and second in three others. One computer had the Trojans fourth; another fifth.

“I don’t think it’s a perfect science,” Carroll said, “and I don’t know how they can come up with it and I don’t have any way to tell them how to do it better, so I’m not going to complain.”

Virginia Tech is still in third in the standings. Georgia and Alabama were next, while UCLA moved up three places to sixth, putting the six unbeaten Division I-A teams at the front of the BCS rankings.

UCLA coach Karl Dorrell said the BCS was “not any point of interest for us right now.”

Miami, Louisiana State, Penn State and Florida State rounded out the top 10.

BCS analyst Jerry Palm said the gap between USC and Virginia Tech in the polls is so big that the Hokies would have to be at least four spots ahead of the Trojans in each of the six computer rankings to catch them in the standings.

“USC has nothing to worry about, as long as these poll margins stay the same,” Palm said, “and one and two are as solid as we’ve ever seen in the BCS at this point in the season.”

The Longhorns finish the regular season against Oklahoma State (3-4), Baylor (4-3), Kansas (3-4) and Texas A&M (5-2).

Virginia Tech’s next two games are against No. 13 Boston College (6-1) and No. 6 Miami (5-1), so it wouldn’t be surprising if the Hokies close some of the gap in the computer rankings if they win.

But unless a large group of voters in the Harris and coaches polls move Virginia Tech past USC and/or Texas in the polls, coach Frank Beamer’s team is still looking at being the odd team out.

Notes

• Tennessee running back Gerald Riggs Jr., the team’s top rusher, will miss the rest of the season after injuring his right lower leg and ankle in Saturday’s 6-3 loss at Alabama.

Riggs averaged 88.3 yards in six games for the Volunteers.

• Arizona coach Mike Stoops named freshman Willie Tuitama starting quarterback. Tuitama replaces Richard Kovalcheck.

• Coach Chuck Amato of North Carolina State also made a quarterback change. Marcus Stone will replace Jay Davis for the Wolfpack.

• Southern Illinois coach Jerry Kill, 44, returned to practice and will lead the team Thursday against Western Kentucky, having recovered from a seizure that left him hospitalized for most of last week.

Kill was on the sideline during the Salukis’ 42-20 victory Saturday at Indiana State but served largely as an adviser, a day after being released from hospital care.

He collapsed Oct. 15 during Southern Illinois’ 61-35 home loss to Illinois State.