USC Football: Why Trojans Got Screwed Getting Jumped by Alabama in the AP Poll

Ian BergCorrespondent ISeptember 4, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans makes a throw over Kendrick Van Ackeren #52 of the Hawaii Warriors during the first quarter at Los Angeles Coliseum on September 1, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Both the USC Trojans and Alabama Crimson Tide had stellar performances in their first contests of the 2012 season. Somehow, the performance by Alabama earned a little more credit, as they jumped the Trojans in the first week’s AP poll release.

Simply put, USC got screwed.

Polls are simply a way of judging a team’s progression before the release of the BCS standings, but these rankings help build the perception of a program nationally, which helps form the opinions that cast votes in the polls.

USC started the season as the No. 1 team according to the AP, but a decisive victory against Hawaii did not seem to do enough to keep them in the top billet. On top of losing the spot, they received 34 fewer first-place votes than Alabama—again, screwed. 

If USC would have struggled against a mid-level Hawaii team it would have made sense, but they handily defeated the Warriors at home. 

Matt Barkley had one of the best showings from the quarterback position across the country, finishing 23-of-38 for 375 yards and four touchdowns. He led the Trojans to an easy victory, shredding the Warriors defense consistently throughout the game. 

The Trojans were not spectacular on the ground, finishing with only 81 rushing yards in the game, but Silas Redd was the leading ball-carrier, managing a 6.2 yards-per-carry average and landing in the end zone one time.

Alabama did throttle Michigan in a game that made the Wolverines look vastly over-ranked, and the Crimson Tide look like title contenders. Still, all things considered, a win over an overmatched and over-ranked team should not have vaulted the Tide over the Trojans. 

The Alabama defense played lights-out in the game, but the offense did just enough to get by. Freshman running back T.J. Yeldon had a great first day in crimson and white, finishing with 11 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown, but A.J. McCarron didn’t do anything to separate himself from the rest of the signal-callers in the game. 

Both teams had right at a 30-percent third-down-conversion ratio against overmatched defenses, and both teams had one turnover in the game. 

USC forced four turnovers on defense, while Alabama only forced three. I know, we are now splitting hairs.

That makes the point that there is no apparent reason for the Crimson Tide to have taken such a leap over the Trojans in the second release of the AP poll. 

USC lost 14 first-place votes in the second week of voting, while Alabama gained 28 first-place votes—that is a substantial leap. Both teams are good enough to hold the top spot, but USC did nothing to drop in the rankings. 

As the season progresses, the top spot in the polls will likely change hands again, but until there is a solid reason for that No. 1 team to fall out of the top spot, any change will be one that is judged as unnecessary. If the roles were reversed, the same would be said about Alabama getting screwed in the latest poll release. 

There is a lot of football left to be played, but as it stands today, the Trojans got screwed in the latest AP poll. After all, they couldn't help who they drew in Week 1.