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The chase is on: USC starts season at No. 1

By Ralph D. Russo
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK — After a season of chasing, Southern California is again the team being chased.

And that’s just the way coach Pete Carroll and the Trojans like it.

For the third time in the past four years, USC begins the college football season No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25.

“It’s exactly where we hope and expect to be,” Carroll said. “It’s a symbol of what we’re all about.”

Southern California received 62 of 65 first-place votes and 1,622 points from a panel of media members. USC easily outdistanced No. 2 LSU in the poll released Saturday. The Tigers received two first-place votes and 1,511 points. They haven’t started a season ranked this high since 1959, when they were preseason No. 1.

Auburn is No. 18, and Alabama is unranked. The Southeastern Conference has six ranked teams, most of any league. The Big Ten and Big 12 are next with four and the Pac-10 and Big East have three each.

No. 3 West Virginia received the remaining first-place vote. The Mountaineers have never been ranked higher in the preseason. No. 4 Texas and Michigan round out the top five, and defending champion Florida is sixth.

USC has been the country’s top program since 2002, going 59-6 with two national championships and a near-miss. This season, the Trojans expect to walk away from the BCS national championship game in New Orleans with the crystal football.

“That’s what we’re here for. We’re here to do it better than anybody has ever done it before,” Carroll said. “That’s the single thought. That’s what drives us. If that’s the case, you want to be No. 1 forever.”

For the Trojans, this is the 82nd time they’ve been No. 1 in the poll. Only Notre Dame (95), Oklahoma (95) and Ohio State (88) have more.

Much of the Trojans’ time at No. 1 has been since late in 2003, when they took the top spot at the end of the regular season and finished No. 1 the AP poll — despite being left out of the national title game. LSU finished No. 1 in the coaches’ poll.

The next season USC became the second team, joining Florida State in 1999, to be No. 1 all the way and was the undisputed national champ.

The next season, USC nearly pulled the wire-to-wire trick again, but Vince Young and Texas relegated the Trojans to No. 2 in the end by winning a 41-38 thriller in the Rose Bowl.

Last season, USC was in the top 10 all season, but never did get to No. 1.

The Trojans were No. 2 going into the final week of the regular season, but with a chance to play for another national title they lost 13-9 to UCLA.

Associated Press preseason top 25 poll


Record

Points

2006

1. Southern California (62)

11-2

1,622

4

2. LSU (2)

11-2

1,511

3

3. West Virginia (1)

11-2

1,396

10

4. Texas

10-3

1,375

13

5. Michigan

11-2

1,371

8

6. Florida

13-1

1,276

1

7. Wisconsin

12-1

1,192

7

8. Oklahoma

11-3

1,166

11

9. Virginia Tech

10-3

1,148

19

10. Louisville

12-1

1,031

6

11. Ohio State

12-1

876

2

12. California

10-3

790

14

13. Georgia

9-4

782

23

14. UCLA

7-6

605

_

15. Tennessee

9-4

571

25

16. Rutgers

11-2

560

12

17. Penn State

9-4

542

_

18. Auburn

11-2

519

9

19. Florida State

7-6

392

_

20. Nebraska

9-5

377

_

21. Arkansas

10-4

376

15

22. Texas Christian

11-2

283

22

23. Hawaii

11-3

256

_

24. Boise State

13-0

187

5

25. Texas A&M

9-4

162

_

Others receiving votes: Missouri 128, Georgia Tech 94, Boston College 75, Oregon 73, South Carolina 69, Miami 68, Alabama 66, Oregon State 42, Wake Forest 40, South Florida 28, Arizona State 17, Brigham Young 14, Southern Mississippi 12, Notre Dame 11, Virginia 7, Clemson 6, Oklahoma St. 3, Texas Tech 2, Houston 1, Kentucky 1, N.C. State 1, Purdue 1.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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