The Associated Press top-25 poll showed a change atop the rankings on Tuesday, as Alabama seized the No. 1 spot from USC after throttling then-No. 8 Michigan, 41-14.
The Wolverines dropped 11 spots to No. 19, and Oregon moved up from No. 5 to No. 4.
Though USC, which fell to No. 2, handled its business with a 39-point win against Hawai’i, the adjusted rankings did not come as a surprise to players or coaches.
“I would agree with [the updated rankings],” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “[Alabama] played a really good Michigan team in a big matchup, and they played really well.”
Senior quarterback Matt Barkley also spoke about USC dropping to No. 2 in the poll.
“I don’t care about it,” Barkley said. “It really doesn’t motivate me. I know Alabama is a great team.”
Kiffin diverted attention back to Saturday’s matchup against Syracuse, stressing that the Trojans cannot take this game lightly.
“This is our second game together,” Kiffin said. “We got to make sure that our guys don’t think that they’re better than they are just because they were ahead 35-0 at halftime. We’re going on the road to a place we’ve never been before against a very good team.”
Kiffin proceeded to praise a Syracuse offense — led by veteran quarterback Ryan Nassib — that posted 41 points against Northwestern.
“[Syracuse] is a lot better on defense than a year ago and extremely explosive on offense, and they lead the country in passing yards,” Kiffin said. “We gave up more yards than we should have to Hawai’i to a quarterback we hadn’t played. [Syracuse] has a quarterback setting school records, so it’s a huge challenge this week.”
USC needs to improve a run offense that amassed just 81 yards against Hawai’i. Syracuse gave up 124 yards rushing against Northwestern last weekend, but only allowed 3.1 yards per carry in the process.
“We need to play better up front, and we had a couple holes that we were a little late on, so we need to coach better, too,” Kiffin said.
Sophomore wide receiver Marqise Lee addressed his Heisman Trophy buzz after a dazzling performance against Hawai’i. He had 297 all-purpose yards in the contest to go with two touchdowns.
“[I’m] not really worried about the hype and all of the accolades that come with it,” Lee said when asked about the prestigous award. “But I do appreciate what people say, and I’m going to continue to work hard.”