Narrow win costs USC top spot; LSU takes over
NEW YORK » LSU reached No. 1 the hard way.
The Tigers edged past Southern California in the AP Top 25 yesterday, even though the Trojans remained undefeated.
On a wild weekend in college football, when half the top 10 lost, USC avoided the upset bug that struck Oklahoma, Florida, Texas and Rutgers. But a sloppy 27-24 victory at Washington on Saturday night cost the Trojans the No. 1 ranking they've held all season.
USC is the first team to lose the No. 1 ranking after a victory since Nov. 3, 2002, when top-ranked Miami dropped after beating Rutgers 42-17 and No. 2 Oklahoma moved up after a 27-11 victory over No. 13 Colorado.
"I have no idea how the points work and how it all adds up," USC coach Pete Carroll said last night. "It has no bearing on anything for us. It didn't before and it doesn't now."
LSU, which recovered from its own first-half malaise to beat Tulane 34-9 on Saturday, received 33 first-place votes from the media panel and 1,593 points. USC got 32 first-place votes, 11 fewer than last week, and 1,591 points.
LSU coach Les Miles suggested the voters didn't get up early enough to watch the first half of the Tigers' victory against Tulane, when they led 10-9 at the break.
"They kind of slept in and got kind of caught up on the score later in the day," he said.
The voting was the closest since the second poll of the 2002 season, when Miami and Oklahoma tied for No. 1 and each received 27 first-place votes.
B.G. Brooks from The Rocky Mountain News in Denver had already flip-flopped USC and LSU once this season and went back to LSU again after watching the Trojans against Washington.
"I think at this point, at least through yesterday, LSU has been a little more dominant," Brooks said.
LSU is No. 1 in the AP poll for the first time since Nov. 2, 1959.
Twelve voters switched off USC to LSU this week to swing the vote, though one voter, Jon Wilner of The San Jose Mercury News, voted USC No. 1 after having LSU last week.
"The main reason I did was because I look at LSU and USC and feel that the Trojans have two quality wins on the road and that tipped the scales toward SC," Wilner said. "Winning in Lincoln and in Seattle gives them an edge over LSU's two big home wins (over South Carolina and Virginia Tech)."
The rest of the rankings released yesterday bore little resemblance to any of the previous polls, thanks to a crazy weekend in which three of the top five and seven of the top 13 teams lost.
Overall, nine ranked teams went down, seven to unranked opponents.
California moved up three spots to No. 3, Ohio State jumped four places to No. 4 and Wisconsin moved up four spots to No. 5.
The rest of the top 10 featured some unfamiliar names.
South Florida, which knocked off No. 5 West Virginia 21-13 on Friday night, made it into the poll for the first time two weeks ago. Now the Bulls are No. 6 in the country and West Virginia dropped eight spots to 13th.
No. 7 Boston College is in the top 10 for the first time since 1992. No. 8 Kentucky has a top-10 ranking for the first time since 1977.
No. 9 Florida, which lost 20-17 on a last-second field goal to Auburn, fell five spots. Oklahoma, which lost to Colorado on a field goal as time expired, dropped seven spots to No. 10.
In the USA Today coaches' poll and the Harris rankings, USC held on to No. 1, with LSU, Cal, Ohio State and Wisconsin in the top five. The Harris and coaches' polls are used in the Bowl Championship Series standings to determine which teams play in the national title game. The first BCS standings will be released Oct. 14.
Falling out of the rankings were Penn State and Alabama.
Top 25 schedule
Who the Associated Press' Top 25 teams play this week
No. 1 LSU vs. No. 9 Florida on Saturday
No. 2 Southern Cal vs. Stanford on Saturday
No. 3 California does not play
No. 4 Ohio State at No. 23 Purdue on Saturday
No. 5 Wisconsin at Illinois on Saturday
No. 6 South Florida at Florida Atlantic on Saturday
No. 7 Boston College vs. Bowling Green on Saturday
No. 8 Kentucky at No. 11 South Carolina on Thursday
No. 9 Florida at No. 1 LSU on Saturday
No. 10 Oklahoma at No. 19 Texas on Saturday
No. 11 South Carolina vs. No. 8 Kentucky on Thursday
No. 12 Georgia at Tennessee on Saturday
No. 13 West Virginia at Syracuse on Saturday
No. 14 Oregon does not play
No. 15 Virginia Tech at No. 22 Clemson on Saturday
No. 16 Hawaii vs. Utah State on Saturday
No. 17 Missouri vs. No. 25 Nebraska on Saturday
No. 18 Arizona St. at Washington State on Saturday
No. 19 Texas vs. No. 10 Oklahoma on Saturday
No. 20 Cincinnati at No. 21 Rutgers on Saturday
No. 21 Rutgers vs. No. 20 Cincinnati on Saturday
No. 22 Clemson vs. No. 15 Virginia Tech on Saturday
No. 23 Purdue vs. No. 4 Ohio State on Saturday
No. 24 Kansas State vs. Kansas on Saturday
No. 25 Nebraska at No. 17 Missouri on Saturday