USC should lock up Sugar Bowl this week

The USC Trojans, ranked second in the BCS, were probably wearing leis and tropical shirts Saturday night as Hawaii faced Alabama. As crazy as it sounds, USC needed the Warriors to knock off the Crimson Tide to further insure a spot in the Sugar Bowl, site of this year’s national championship game.

Hawaii won, 37-29, which should help USC’s strength of schedule ranking in this week’s BCS poll, due out Monday. An Alabama loss hurt LSU’s strength of schedule. The Tigers, currently third in the BCS poll, need all they help they can get.

So now, USC will probably reach the Sugar Bowl with a win over Oregon State in Saturday’s regular-season finale.

But BCS analyst Jerry Palm has figured a way that LSU still could pass USC in the BCS rankings. The Tigers currently lead USC in two of the major computer rankings taken into consideration, according to the BCS rankings released last Monday.

If LSU defeats Georgia in the SEC championship, the Tigers may flip-flop with USC in several more of the computer polls. The overall average would then swing in LSU’s favor. A win over Georgia also would be considered a quality win, which would give LSU a little more bump. So the Trojans should continue holding their breath.

This week’s BCS rankings should give a better indication of how the Rose, Fiesta and Orange Bowls will shake out. As things currently stand, LSU would possibly face Michigan in the Rose. Texas and Florida State would meet in the Fiesta, and Miami and Ohio State would stage a rematch of last year’s title game in the Orange.