USC increases lead over idle Oklahoma, Auburn

Updated: November 28, 2004, 4:19 PM ET
Associated Press

A week after losing some support as the No. 1 team, Southern California got it right back.

Top-ranked USC received 52 first-place votes, four more than last week, and 1,610 points in The Associated Press Top 25 on Sunday. In the previous poll, Southern Cal lost three first-place votes.

With No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 Auburn idle, the Trojans pounded Notre Dame 41-10 on Saturday night, persuading some more media voters that they are the best team in the country. Irish coach Tyrone Willingham sure was convinced.

"They are No. 1 for a reason," he said.

The Sooners and Tigers each had two fewer first-place votes than last week, but Oklahoma extended its lead over Auburn by five points.

Oklahoma received seven first-place votes and 1,540 points. Auburn got six first-place votes and 1,530 points.

When the Bowl Championship Series standings are released Monday, no changes are expected at the very top. Last week, USC was first, Oklahoma second and Auburn third.

All three play Saturday, trying to stay unbeaten. USC plays at UCLA; Oklahoma meets Colorado in the Big 12 title game; and Auburn faces Tennessee for the Southeastern Conference championship.

USC, Oklahoma and Auburn, in that order, also led the ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll.

The top nine teams in the latest AP poll were the same as last week. No. 4 California was followed by Utah, Texas, Louisville, Georgia and Miami.

Virginia Tech moved up a spot to No. 10, flip-flopping with unbeaten Boise State.

Three teams moved into the poll, including two for the first time this season.

Pittsburgh vaulted in at No. 19 after beating West Virginia 16-13 last Thursday. The Panthers are in line for a BCS bid if they can beat South Florida on Saturday.

"If we can take care of business Saturday and go to a BCS bowl, it would be huge for this program," Pitt quarterback Tyler Palko said.

The Mountaineers fell out of the rankings for the first time this season. They had been ranked as high as No. 6 early in the season.

Texas Tech is in for the first time this season at No. 23 after beating Oklahoma State 31-15. The Cowboys dropped out of the rankings.

Ohio State is 25th, back in the rankings after a three-game losing streak knocked it out in October.

UTEP, which was ranked in the AP poll for the first time in school history, fell out after losing 37-35 to Tulsa. The Miners were 24th.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press