NCAA FB

Trojans need to prove ranking no fluke

Who's ready for some football? Watch 2011 USC highlights.
Who's ready for some football? Watch 2011 USC highlights.
Share This Story

Pete Fiutak

Pete Fiutak writes previews, predictions and prognostications for CollegeFootballNews.com.

MORE>>
   
 

After not being eligible for a bowl game or a conference championship over the past two seasons, USC has risen up enough to become the No. 1 team in the first AP poll of the season.

HOPE YOU'RE READY

College football quarterbacks come and go. Get to know the new crop of arms. Top replacements

The rebound isn’t complete quite yet – the Trojans now have to win when the lights are on – but for a program that was supposed to be hamstrung for years by NCAA sanctions, this ranking is a validation of the job Lane Kiffin was able to do to keep the program afloat during the down years.

It also shows how important one player can be.

Had quarterback Matt Barkley decided to leave early for the NFL, USC wouldn’t be the preseason No. 1 team and might be lucky to be in the top five. But he’s back, and so is USC with all the expectations and pressure of being considered the top team in the country once again.

On the flip side, this is the first ranking to come out since LSU lost Heisman finalist Tyrann Mathieu, who was booted off the team for alleged substance use. The Tigers are No. 1 in the preseason Coaches’ Poll – which actually matters more in terms of the BCS rankings – but fell to third behind USC and Alabama in the AP.

It doesn’t really make a difference for LSU -- if it gets through the season clean, with a win over Alabama, it’s going to play in the BCS Championship Game and it’s going to finish the year as the No. 1 team in AP by going 14-0.

AP Top 25

Rk

Team

Points

1 Notre Dame (60) 1500
2 Alabama 1400
3 Georgia 1331
4 Ohio State 1294
5 Florida 1262
6 Oregon 1242
7 Kansas State 1079
8 Stanford 1061
9 LSU 1056
10 Texas A&M 1043
11 South Carolina 916
12 Oklahoma 834
13 Florida State 764
14 Nebraska 704
15 Clemson 667
16 Oregon State 528
17 UCLA 505
18 Kent State 355
19 Northern Illinois 349
20 Utah State 274
21 Michigan 217
22 Northwestern 189
23 Texas 185
24 Oklahoma State 174
25 Boise State 145

For the Trojans, who were ranked third in the preseason Coaches’ Poll, the top spot in the AP rankings will be justification and validation for down the road. If there’s another scenario like last season, with Alabama losing to LSU in a regular-season squeaker, then the Coaches and Harris polls won’t have any problem making sure USC is in the top two. Everyone would want to see an undefeated AP No. 1 team play the LSU-Alabama winner for the national title.

The AP rankings set up a few huge matchups for down the road, with USC hosting No. 5 Oregon and Alabama facing No. 3 LSU -- both on Nov. 3.

The SEC is the big winner overall with five teams – No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 LSU, No. 6 Georgia, No. 9 South Carolina and No. 10 Arkansas – in the top 10. Arkansas has to face Alabama, LSU and South Carolina, while the Gamecocks have to go to Georgia on Oct. 6.

Ohio State and Penn State might not be eligible to win the conference title or go bowling this year, but it was a good first ranking for the Big Ten with Michigan starting out at No. 8, Wisconsin No. 12, Michigan State No. 13, Nebraska No. 17 and Ohio State No. 18. The big tests for the league will come early on with Michigan kicking things off against Alabama in Arlington, Texas, and Michigan State hosting No. 24 Boise State.

There wasn’t much respect given to some of last year’s most important teams, with Fiesta Bowl winner Oklahoma State starting out 19th, Andrew Luck-less Stanford checking in at 21st and Sugar Bowl loser Virginia Tech at No. 16.

Along with the USC rebound comes a resurgence for two other major power programs. Florida State is the favorite in the ACC starting out at No. 7, while Texas checks in at a respectable 15, with plenty of chances to move up in a hurry, going to Oklahoma State on Sept. 29, hosting No. 11 West Virginia the week after, and following those to battles with the rivalry date against No. 3 Oklahoma.

But the 2012 preseason AP poll is all about USC.

Is this really the rebirth of the superpower that rolls through the last decade, or are the expectations now set a little bit too high?

The Trojans are No. 1, and this year they get a chance to prove it.

Tagged: Michigan, Stanford, USC, Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma

More Stories From Pete Fiutak

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by

College Football Pick'em on FOX


NCAA FB Videos

Sumlin annoyed by media's Manziel questions Posted: Jul 16, 2014
Kevin Sumlin responds to questions about life after Johnny Football by toying wi...

AJ Pasquale's journey back to UCLA Posted: Jun 17, 2014
UCLA football ops intern AJ Pasquale describes his own personal journey after th...

Winston issued adult civil citation Posted: Apr 30, 2014
Get the latest news surrounding Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting fiasco.

Get Inside the Locker Room with Scout.com

More Than Sports on MSN

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Florida_Gators/browse/featuredproduct/759777/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_759000/ff_759777_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Florida Gators Gridiron 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - Royal Blue
    Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Michigan_State_Spartans/browse/featuredproduct/760171/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_760000/ff_760171_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Michigan State Spartans Football 2012 Team Issue T-Shirt - White
    Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_USC_Trojans/browse/featuredproduct/761373/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_761000/ff_761373_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike USC Trojans Fight On My School T-Shirt - Cardinal
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/829709/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829709_xl.jpg&w=100 64.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Crimso..
    Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_LSU_Tigers/browse/featuredproduct/829740/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_829000/ff_829740_xl.jpg&w=100 49.99 Nike LSU Tigers Elite Force Coaches Sideline Performance Polo - Purple
    Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Oklahoma_Sooners/browse/featuredproduct/830935/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_830000/ff_830935_xl.jpg&w=100 21.95 Nike Oklahoma Sooners Legacy 91 Dri-FIT Adjustable Coaches Cap - Crimson
    adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Notre_Dame_Fighting_Irish/browse/featuredproduct/861243/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861243_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Notre Dame Fighting Irish Hot Sideline Jacket - Navy Blue
    adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Nebraska_Cornhuskers/browse/featuredproduct/861247/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_861000/ff_861247_xl.jpg&w=100 69.95 adidas Nebraska Cornhuskers Sideline Hot Quarter Zip Jacket - Scarlet
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapback Hat - Charcoal/Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1087345/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1087000/ff_1087345_xl.jpg&w=100 29.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Players Locker Room Snapba..
    Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Alabama_Crimson_Tide/browse/featuredproduct/1093431/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1093000/ff_1093431_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Nike Alabama Crimson Tide 2012 BCS National Champions Locker Room T-Shirt - Ash