Trojans Have the Poll Position
USC Coach Pete Carroll answered a question with a question Saturday when asked how it felt to receive 60 of possible 65 first-place votes in the Associated Press preseason poll.
“We didn’t get them all?” Carroll said jokingly.
Second-ranked Texas got four first-place votes and No. 12 Louisville another, but USC was the overwhelming choice of media members as the Trojans prepare for a run at an unprecedented third consecutive AP title.
Times writers do not vote in polls.
USC tailback Reggie Bush was not surprised the Trojans were No. 1.
“We’ve kind of been the talk of the preseason, the talk of the nation,” said Bush, a 2004 Heisman Trophy finalist. “Everybody knew we were going to be No. 1. It’s not going to affect us at all.”
USC, which opens its season Sept. 3 at Hawaii, went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the AP poll last season. The Trojans have occupied the top spot since the end of the 2003 regular season, a stretch of 19 consecutive polls. Only Miami, which was No. 1 for 21 consecutive polls a few years ago, has a longer run at the top since AP began preseason rankings in 1950.
“We know we’re going to have teams gunning for us, giving us their best games,” flanker Steve Smith said. “We want to show we can hold that No. 1 spot.”
USC’s vote total gave the Trojans 1,619 points. Texas had 1,500. Tennessee is third, Michigan fourth and Louisiana State fifth. Ohio State, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Miami and Florida round out the top 10.
Louisville, at No. 12, received one first-place vote. Joe Giglio of the News & Observer of Raleigh, N.C., said he voted the Cardinals No. 1 based on the schedules of BCS teams.
“Louisville was the only one that I came up with as going undefeated,” he said.
For the first time since the inception of the bowl championship series, the AP poll will not be part of the equation that determines participants in the BCS title game, which will be played this season in the Rose Bowl.
It has been replaced by the Harris poll, which will be formulated by the votes of a 114-person panel of former coaches, players, administrators and media members.
In 2003, USC claimed a share of the national championship by defeating Michigan in the Rose Bowl and finishing No. 1 in the AP poll. Louisiana State, which defeated Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, finished atop the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll because coaches were contractually bound to vote for the winner of the BCS title game.
Last season, USC finished atop both polls after routing Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, which served as the BCS title game. USC became the first school since Nebraska to finish atop the AP poll two seasons in row. The Cornhuskers achieved the feat in 1994 and 1995. USC also joined Florida State’s 1999 team as the only ones to go wire-to-wire No. 1.
Associated Press contributed to this report.