|Trojans drop in poll despite victory|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 26 October 2008 12:49|
The Associated Press Top 25 told a different story on Sunday.
Southern California (6-1, 4-1 Pac-10) slipped one spot, to No. 7, in the AP poll, leapfrogged by streaking Texas Tech, which mauled Kansas 63-21.
It's another indication of the poor national perception of the Pac-10. Because the Trojans and Wildcats were in a four-way tie for the conference lead, the game amounted to a Rose Bowl playoff. But the pollsters weren't impressed with the Trojans' fourth straight victory.
At midseason, the Trojans find themselves trying to buck the Pac-10's image. They still believe they can reach the Bowl Championship Series title game, but they're going to need a lot of help after ceding command of their own destiny in a 27-21 loss at Oregon State on Sept. 25.
the national championship at the end of the year, but we don't control that,'' linebacker Brian Cushing said after the Arizona game. ``What we control is Washington (this week), and the rest of the games that we play in. We've just got to control that, and hopefully some teams around us lose.''
The Trojans don't even control their own Rose Bowl destiny. Having lost to Oregon State (4-3, 3-1), they need the Beavers to stumble down the stretch.
The Trojans may not face another test as stringent as the one they passed on Saturday night in the desert. None of USC's remaining opponents - Washington, California, Stanford, Notre Dame and UCLA - are ranked.
Arizona was once one of the nation's feeblest programs. But the Wildcats have defeated six ranked opponents in Mike Stoops' five years as coach. And they had averaged 40.4 points per game this year, ninth in the nation.
But the Trojans conceded only a touchdown and a field goal - and the touchdown came after USC quarterback Mark Sanchez fumbled at his own 15 early in the third quarter.
With the game tied at 10-10, Sanchez hit Stanley Havili with a 30-yard pass to for the decisive score midway through the third quarter.
rth-and-an-inch sneak near midfield.
The tense victory gave USC coach Pete Carroll reason for optimism, even if the polls don't.
``We're getting this thing moving,'' Carroll said on the Arizona Stadium field. ``This could be a really strong season for us. But we've got to take these things as they come to us. The defense is what gives you a chance to win every single time you go out. They're playing great football.''
The offense is another story. The Trojans struggled to find a rhythm against an Arizona team that gave up 36 points to New Mexico and 24 to Stanford, both losses.
Using its tailback-by-committee approach, the Trojans leaned on junior Stafon Johnson, who ran for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Sanchez passed for 216 yards and a touchdown but also lost a fumble and threw an interception, his seventh. He was sacked three times.
``I don't think there's any question, we can win every game with our offense, the way they're playing and playing off of this defense,'' Carroll said. ``We're good enough. Now we have to prepare and perform like it every time we go out. That's obviously the great challenge.''