Here's why Southern California is No. 1 in The Associated Press
Every player who scored a touchdown in the Trojans' 55-19
victory over Oklahoma in last season's Orange Bowl is still playing
for USC. And so is Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, who threw
five TD passes.
Leinart, Reggie Bush and the rest of Pete Carroll's crew
provided a scary glimpse of what was to come in 2005 when they
wrapped up their second straight national title on that warm
January night in Miami.
This year's goal is three in a row, something that's never been
"It's always good to be on top, but at the same time we're
focused and coach Carroll always reminds us, 'Don't worry about
who's No. 1 or No. 2. Just stay focused,"' said sophomore receiver
Dwayne Jarrett, who finished off a big freshman year with 115 yards
and a touchdown in the Orange Bowl.
USC (1,619 points) received 60 out of a possible 65 first-place
votes in the media poll released Saturday, grabbing the top spot in
the preseason for the fifth time in school history.
"My statement on that is what I always say: It's a reflection
of what's happened in the past and the respect that people show our
program, so in that sense it's a really nice recognition," Carroll
said, "but it doesn't amount to much until we do something about
it and prove that we're worthy of that. And it's a long ways before
No. 2 Texas (1,500 points), coming off an 11-1 season and a Rose
Bowl win, got four first-place votes. Tennessee is No. 3 and
Michigan and LSU round out the top five. No. 12 Louisville received
the other first-place vote.
Joe Giglio of The News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., voted
Louisville No. 1 after examining the schedules for all BCS
conference teams. The Cardinals moved to the Big East this season.
"Louisville was the only one that I came up with as going
undefeated," he said.
Ohio State is No. 6, one point ahead of Oklahoma and star
tailback Adrian Peterson. The Sooners have lost the last two Bowl
Championship Series title games, and have to replace 11 NFL draft
picks and 2003 Heisman winner Jason White this season.
Defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion Virginia Tech is
No. 8. The Hokies have a new Vick at quarterback, Mike's little
Miami is No. 9 and No. 10 Florida, with new coach Urban Meyer,
gives the Southeastern Conference three teams in the top 10.
"It says we have a lot of experience. We have a returning
quarterback and some returning players on defense. It doesn't say
anything about the coaches," said Meyer, who guided Utah to an
undefeated record last season.
USC's AP championship repeat was the 10th, and first since
Nebraska did it in 1994-95.
The Cornhuskers were preseason No. 1 in 1996, but lost 19-0 at
Arizona State in their second game of the season to snap a 26-game
winning streak. Nebraska finished the season 11-2.
"The odds are always against you no matter what your previous
history is," former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne said recently.
"You have to overcome the tendency to relax."
USC has won 22 straight games and has one huge advantage over
that '96 Nebraska team: Leinart is a three-year starter at
"When you get your quarterback back, now that's a big deal,"
Osborne said. "USC, because of that factor, if you had to pick a
team, they'd be the favorite."
Many figured Leinart's college career was over after his
record-breaking Orange Bowl. He stood a good chance at being the
first pick in the NFL draft, but instead decided to return for his
senior year and a shot at a second Heisman.
Ohio State running back
Archie Griffin is the only two-time Heisman winner.
B.G. Brooks of the Rocky Mountain News of Denver was one of four
voters to put Texas No. 1.
"I thought USC had lost too much, particularly in the coaching
staff," he said.
The Trojans have only five returning starters on defense and had
to replace four assistants, including offensive coordinator Norm
USC now has been ranked No. 1 in 19 straight AP polls, the
second-best streak since the preseason rankings started in 1950.
"We like it because it makes us push and work harder every day
just to stay on top," Jarrett said. "Being No. 1 is just going to
make us push each other and compete at the highest level out here
and just work as a team. "
Miami's 21-week run at No. 1 during its 34-game winning streak a
few years ago is the longest consecutive stay atop the AP rankings.
USC has been No. 1 since the final regular-season poll of the
2003 season, when the Trojans won the AP title but were left out of
the BCS title game for LSU and Oklahoma.
Last season, the Trojans were the second team to be a
wire-to-wire No. 1, joining the 1999 Florida State team. And they
didn't have to share the national crown.
No. 11 Iowa starts the second 10, followed by Louisville,
Georgia, Florida State and Purdue.
Auburn, which finished last season 13-0 and No. 2 in the country
after being left out of the BCS title game, is No. 16. The Tigers
must replace three first-round draft picks from their backfield
alone in running backs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown and
quarterback Jason Campbell.
No. 17 is Texas A&M, Boise State is ranked 18th, California is
19th and Arizona State is No. 20.
The final five are Texas Tech, Boston College, Pittsburgh,
Fresno State and Virginia.
Missing from the poll is Utah, last year's BCS buster from the
Mountain West Conference.
The Utes went 12-0 and finished fourth in the final AP rankings.
But Utah lost Meyer to the Gators and quarterback Alex Smith left
after his junior year to become the first overall pick in the NFL
draft by the San Francisco 49ers.
The last team to finish that high and go unranked in the
following preseason poll was Arizona State, which was No. 4 to end
the 1996 season.