LSU is ranked No. 1 in the first Bowl Championship Series rankings, released Sunday night.
The Tigers, 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Southeastern Conference after a 38-7 victory Saturday at Tennessee, have been ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll since Sept. 25, but the AP poll is not factored into the BCS rankings.
The top two spots in the final BCS rankings in December will determine which teams will play for the national championship Jan. 9 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The last two BCS title games that were played in the Superdome were won by the Tigers - after the 2003 and 2007 seasons.
The BCS rankings are comprised of three equal components: the USA Today Coaches Poll, the Harris Poll and an average of six computer rankings.
LSU’s SEC West Division rival Alabama, which will play the Tigers on Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., was No. 2.
Oklahoma was No. 3 and Oklahoma State was No. 4, and those teams will meet Dec. 3 in Stillwater, Okla. The fifth spot went to Boise State, which is considered a long shot to climb any higher because of a relatively weak schedule, which will hurt it in the computer rankings.
“It’s a great compliment to our team certainly and to the body of work,” Tigers head coach Les Miles said. “At this point in time, we’re just holding a spot. It’s not a final spot of achievement in any way. We kind of enjoy playing to the eventuality but recognize that what we’ve accomplished at this point is not enough.”
The Tigers will play defending BCS champion Auburn, which is 20th in the BCS rankings and ranked 19th in the AP poll, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium.
LSU, which will play No. 9 Arkansas on Nov. 25 in Tiger Stadium, has played one of the toughest schedules in the country, meeting four teams that were ranked at the time of those meetings. The Tigers haven’t won any game by fewer than 13 points.
The rest of the top 10 consists of No. 6 Wisconsin, No. 7 Clemson, No. 8 Stanford, Arkansas and Oregon, which lost to LSU 40-27 in the season opener Sept. 3 in Arlington, Texas.
The next five are Kansas State, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, South Carolina and West Virginia, which lost to the Tigers 47-21 on Sept. 24, a victory that elevated LSU to the top spot in the AP poll.
Michigan State is No. 16, followed by Texas A&M, Michigan, Houston, Auburn, Penn State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Texas and Washington.
The Harris poll has LSU No. 1 followed by Alabama and Oklahoma. The coaches poll has Oklahoma No. 1 followed by LSU, then Alabama. The computer rankings have Oklahoma State No. 1 followed by Alabama, LSU, and Oklahoma.
The BCS formula gave the Tigers a slight edge over the Crimson Tide (.9522 to .9519) with a slightly larger gap between Alabama and the Sooners, whose total was .9301.
LSU entered the season as the No. 4 team in the AP poll, trailing No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Alabama, and No. 3 Oregon. The Tigers’ victory against the Ducks in the season opener started their ascension to the top spot.
Miles has said repeatedly that the rankings at this point in the season mean little other than to give a team a better opportunity to secure one of the top two spots at the end. But none of that matters unless a team keeps winning.
“Once you’re thrust into that position, you might as well enjoy it,” Miles said Sunday night. “Even though it’s a little early in the season for the tag we’d like to have, we’ll take it if nobody else needs it.”
Miles said the BCS ranking, just as he said about the top spot in the AP poll, doesn’t bring any added pressure because the Tigers always attract their opponents’ full attention.
“Anybody who lines up against LSU is going to play their best football,” he said. “There’s no extra target. Our football team understands we’re about to play a very talented Auburn team. Our view and preparation go no further than the very next opponent. That’s how we’ll always operate.”
If LSU beats Auburn and Alabama beats Tennessee on Saturday, the Tigers and the Crimson Tide likely will be 1-2 when they meet Nov. 5. Both teams have an open date on Oct. 29. The winner of the LSU-Alabama game likely will win the SEC West and play the East division champion Dec. 3 in Atlanta for the league title.
The SEC champion has won the past five BCS championships. Florida began the run in 2006, followed by LSU, Florida again, Alabama and Auburn.
“If at some point in time we get to the back end of this thing, and an actual declaration and achievement of note is there for us,” Miles said, “I think we’ll know how to respond.”
The BCS rankings will be updated every Sunday night until the end of the regular season Dec. 3.