What's with precipitous drop in USC media poll rankings?

USC's quest to capture the media poll flag is going the way of Wrong Way Roy Riegels.

The Trojans keep winning and retreating, losing six poll spots since debuting at No. 14.

It seems like every time coach Lane Kiffin goes for two, the Trojans drop two, sliding from No. 14, to 16, to 18, to 20.

Two more victories and USC may end up in the NAIA poll.

Could it be backlash for the NCAA sanctions levied against USC last June?

Or, perhaps, a bad aftertaste resonating from Reggie Bush, who recently became the first player in history to magnanimously return the Heisman Trophy before it was ignominiously ripped from his hands.

Maybe Kiffin's picked-upon reputation and sour-puss sideline demeanor is subconsciously penetrating the voters' hearts and minds.

USC can't play for the Bowl Championship Series national title this season, or even be ranked in the coaches' poll, so the media avenue is the only road leading back to Rome.

Are the nation's media pundits conspiring against USC? Or, did too many voters simply catch part of the Virginia game?.

There is, without doubt, some strange fluctuating going on.

Victories against Hawaii, Virginia and Minnesota have cost the Trojans a whopping 13 positions on Steve Conroy's Boston Herald ballot.

Conroy explained his drop of USC: "The Hawaii game was an eyebrow-raiser and the Virginia game was a red flag, so I dropped them."

Media poll voters, however, do seem more forgiving of other schools who have struggled to 3-0 starts.

Florida remains No. 9 this week despite a horrible opening effort against Miami of Ohio and less-than-scintillating victories against South Florida and Tennessee.

Wisconsin struggled mightily at home the last two weeks, allowing San Jose State to stay in a game it never should have been in, and then last week nearly losing to Arizona State, picked to finish ninth this year in the Pac-10.

Yet, Wisconsin is holding steady at No. 11.

"Point taken on the Badgers," Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News conceded.

Conroy has punished USC a baker's dozen in the poll but is holding Florida at No. 8. He says that's more a reflection of Urban Meyer's track record as a coach.

"If I'm wrong," Conroy explained, "the schedule in the SEC will knock the Gators out of the top 10 in due time."

Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman docked USC 10 spots, from No. 11 in preseason to No. 21.

Cripe penalized USC in three weeks in part because "they haven't looked good," and the unexpected emergence of teams such as Utah, Arizona, Stanford, Auburn and Michigan.

"As I tell everyone who complains about my rankings, it will work itself out," Cripe said. "If the Trojans keep winning, they'll be back in the top 10 before too long."

Schedule games: Boise State gets criticized for its schedule but has tried for years to get home-and-home arrangements with major conferences besides the Pac-10. And the answer has been?

"There's no way," Boise State athletic director Gene Bleymaier said this week. "I've tried."

He gives Oregon and Oregon State credit for returning games to Boise the last two years. Boise State has a home-and-home with Washington State for 2016-17.

"Look at the SEC," Bleymaier said. "They don't go anywhere nonconference. That's what skews this whole conversation. Go play on the road."

Extra points: The Atlantic Coast Conference is 1-9 in nonconference games against teams from the Football Bowl Subdivision. … Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson praised Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio's gutsy fake field goal call to beat Notre Dame on Saturday night. Erickson, who once coached the Seahawks, said those calls are easier in college. In the NFL, he said, "you'd have to answer to the owner."


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