USC debuts in BCS standings at No. 14
LOS ANGELES -- After USC struggled for the third week in a row, eking out a 20-13 victory over Arizona on Saturday, voters had seen enough. The Trojans dropped significantly in the three major polls.
And that was nothing compared to what a computer thought of them. In the first BCS standings released Sunday, the Trojans debuted in the No. 14 spot, largely because of computers that ranked them at No. 23.
That leaves them a long climb back to the national title discussion, even longer when you consider a mounting toll of injuries. USC played much of Saturday without its starting quarterback, its leading rusher, two key linebackers and most of its offensive line.
Beating 1-6 Notre Dame this week sounds like a more realistic goal than a national title, but Coach Pete Carroll said he has told his team that the pinnacle is not out of reach yet.
“We’ve had years where we lose games and still get a lot of good stuff out of the season,” Carroll said.
“We need to keep battling and bounce back, which is what we’ve already done. It’s a long season. Everyone faces the same thing. You fix your issues that come up and hope guys continue to believe.”
A strong schedule helped the Trojans near the end of last year, but it dragged them down in the first BCS standings. The computers take strength of schedule into consideration and it’s no wonder USC finished so low.
Its body of work looks less impressive by the week. None of the teams USC has played has a winning record since. Idaho is 1-5, with its only victory over Cal Poly SLO; Nebraska is 2-2, with consecutive blowout losses to Missouri and Oklahoma State; Washington State is 0-3; Washington got blown out by Arizona State and Stanford lost at home to Texas Christian.
All together, USC’s opponents are 3-12 since facing the Trojans and 13-27 overall.
The schedule can also redeem USC. With road games left against No. 7 Oregon, No. 10 Cal and No. 12 Arizona State, victories could quickly move them up the BCS standings.
“If they can manage to get to 11-1, they would be a pretty strong one-loss candidate, but it still depends who else is there,” BCS expert Jerry Palm said. “LSU is probably a stronger candidate, Oklahoma is probably stronger. But given what they have left to do, it’s not too late for them.”
Since the BCS began in 1998, the longest climb was LSU’s from 12th in 2003.
USC is No. 13 in the Associated Press poll and No. 9 in the Harris and USA Today polls.
Palm was shocked USC didn’t fall further when it lost to lowly Stanford two weeks ago.
LSU took a sizeable tumble Sunday after it lost a tough SEC game at Kentucky.
“USC suffered one of the biggest upsets in probably 25 years and only dropped from one to seven,” Palm said. “That kind of inconsistency from the voters only makes me shake my head.”
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