Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Near Real Deal: Trojans On Top

Kind of getting old, doesn't it?

The first weekend of the 2008 season is in the books, and surprise! we find USC ranked No. 1 in the two major polls, and now in the unofficial BCS standings.

This version of the standings is a virtual simulation of what the BCS standings would look like had it been published at this point of the season. We have four of the six BCS computer ratings available, as well as the coaches poll. The AP poll, as has been practiced, is used in place of the Harris Interactive Poll; and the median ranking of 23 non-BCS computers is used for each team as substitute for the two computer ratings currently unavailable.

It should be no surprise that USC would be No.1 in the BCS standings after the Trojans vaulted past both Georgia and Ohio State and took the top spot in the AP and Coaches polls. What's surprising is that USC has a rather robust lead over No. 2 Ohio State. The Trojans are ranked No. 1 in just about every computer rating available - BCS and non-BCS.

And since USC is off next week and won't play again until its Sept. 13 showdown against Ohio State at the L.A. Coliseum, it's apparent that the Trojans will retain the No.1 ranking entering that game.

While USC went on the road and played a BCS conference opponent - and routed Virginia, 52-7 - most of the top title contenders played either I-AA or non-BCS foes at home. In addition, Georgia's 45-21 victory over Georgia Southern and Ohio State's 43-0 win over Youngstown State both proved costly. Neither team received much credit from the pollsters and both suffered potentially devastating injuries.

The Buckeyes, ranked No. 1 in the preseason BCS standings, dropped to No. 2, with a slim lead over Florida. Georgia dropped to No. 4, followed by another SEC powerhouse and defending BCS champion LSU. Oklahoma, Missouri, West Virginia, Texas and Auburn round out the top 10.

Several teams made giant leaps into the top 25 with resounding victories. Alabama moved up from No. 26 to No. 14 after routing Clemson in the Georgia Dome. Utah and UCLA also cracked the top 25 with wins over Michigan and Tennessee, respectively.

Clemson, as expected, dropped from No. 9 all the way to No. 29. The Vols, after losing in overtime at the Rose Bowl, are now No. 34. Virginia Tech fell from No. 13 to No. 36 after losing late against East Carolina in Charlotte.

One team that made a belated and not-so-conspicuous appearance in the standings is Miami (Fla.). Once a perennial contender for the national championship and a fixture atop the BCS standings, the 'Canes received a single vote in both the AP and coaches polls. Miami crept into the 47th spot after a resounding pounding of Charleston Southern, 52-7.

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