Trojans Leapfrog Bulldogs in Latest Polls

The Trojans reclaimed the No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25 poll, dethroning the top preseason team, Georgia, in the rankings released on Sept. 3. The Bulldogs dropped to No. 2, while Ohio State fell one spot to No. 3.

Ranking third in the preseason AP poll, the Trojans jumped up two spots after defeating the Virginia Cavaliers in Charlottesville Aug. 30, 52-7. Voting was relatively close. Of the 65 available first place votes, USC received 21 (for 1,539 points); Georgia had 20 first place votes (1,506), while Ohio State had 15 (1,497). USC reached the top spot in the polls for the 39th time since it finished No. 1 on Dec. 7, 2003, when the Trojans finished No. 1 in the final regular season AP Poll.

The Trojans also leapfrogged the Bulldogs in the USA Today coaches’ poll. Both polls ranked USC, Georgia and Ohio State in spots one through three, respectively.

Last week’s rankings come on the heels of a bye week for USC. When the Trojans return to play Sept. 13, they will face No. 3 Ohio State in Los Angeles. There was no change in four spots below Ohio State: Oklahoma (No. 4, two first place votes), Florida (No. 5, five first place votes), Missouri (No. 6, one first place vote), LSU (No. 7, one first place vote).

Two other California teams cracked the AP Top 25: Fresno State at No. 21, and UCLA at No. 23. Falling out of the first week rankings were Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and Tennessee.

Volunteers Stunned by UCLA in Pasadena

Despite being heavily favored, Tennessee failed to beat a PAC-10 team on the road for the second consecutive season, after the UCLA Bruins valiantly rallied to defeat the Volunteers, 27-24, on Labor Day in front of 68,546 in Pasadena.

Quarterback Kevin Craft, making his UCLA debut, was off to a shaky start with four first half interceptions, including one for a touchdown moments before halftime. Yet, the Bruin defense held the Volunteers to just one offensive touchdown in the first half.

Craft recovered from a poor passing performance in the first two quarters (7-for-18, four INTs) to lead the Bruins to victory. He completed 18-of-25 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown in the second half (game stats: 25-for-43, 259 yards, one TD, four INTs), as the Bruins bounced back from a 14-7 halftime deficit to beat Tennessee in overtime, 27-24.

Also making their debuts was head coach Rick Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow. UCLA moved into the AP Top 25 poll with the win, ranking No. 23. The Bruins have a bye this week and return to the field Sept. 13 at Provo, Utah against No. 15 BYU.

In Other News

The Dodgers announced first baseman James Loney is the club’s recipient of the 2008 Roberto Clemente Award, recognizing a player for outstanding skills on the field and community service. Also announced by the Dodgers: Closer Takashi Saito may return off the disabled list this week; second baseman Jeff Kent, who had successful arthroscopic knee surgery Sept. 2, may return to the line-up before the season is complete.

L.A. Galaxy players Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Eddie Lewis and Ante Jazic missed the Sept. 6 game against Real Salt Lake. All four players were called up to international duty for the World Cup qualifiers.

The Galaxy announced an all-star team comprised of players from Oceania on Dec. 6. It will be the team’s second trip to the Australia region since 2007.

The Los Angeles Kings signed its first-round pick, 18-year-old defenseman Colten Teubert, to a three-year entry-level contract. Free-agent Andy Thomas signed a one-year entry-level minor league contract with the Anaheim Ducks.