The climb continues for USC.
Following last Saturday’s 50-6 win over Colorado at the Coliseum, the Trojans rank No. 9 in this week’s BCS standings after debuting at No. 10. And so the question becomes what the Trojans need to do in order to climb up in the polls to secure the No. 1 or No. 2 spot in the season’s final BCS rankings and earn a coveted spot in the national championship game, scheduled for Jan. 7 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla.
At the moment, USC is ranked No. 8 in the USA Today coaches’ poll and No. 9 in the Harris Interactive Poll — two polling systems that compose two-thirds of the BCS formula. Both have enabled USC to safely secure a spot in the top 10.
But where the team has the most ground to make up comes with the computer rankings, where its overall average stands at .370, good for 16th nationally.
Six computer systems are used by the BCS: Anderson & Hester, Richard Billingsley, Colley Matrix, Kenneth Massey, Jeff Sagarin and Peter Wolfe. And in the six ratings, USC is ranked No. 16, No. 8, No. 17, No. 19, No. 15 and No. 19, respectively.
To calculate a team’s computer poll average, the highest and lowest rankings are removed and the four remaining scores are averaged, totaled and calculated as a percentage, as outlined on the BCS’s official website.
The reason the Trojans hover around 15 in the computers, roughly seven spots lower than in the polls: strength of schedule, which is factored into each of the ratings systems.
Thus far, the Trojans have yet to beat a team with a winning record — their six wins have come against opponents with a combined record of 13-29. Two of the six wins have come against one-win teams, Hawai’i and Colorado. And USC’s best win came against a 3-4 Washington team.
But USC (6-1, 4-1) should have the chance to move up in the coming weeks, and remains positioned rather well. Its remaining five opponents, Arizona, Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA and Notre Dame, are a combined 28-7. And both the Ducks and Fighting Irish, ranked No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, come to South Los Angeles next month, giving USC the chance to move past them in the rankings.
Moreover, three SEC teams are ranked ahead of USC, and so is Pac-12 foe Oregon State, which is not on the Trojans’ regular-season schedule. Alabama, ranked No. 1, still must face No. 6 LSU. And the Crimson Tide is currently slotted to play Florida in the SEC championship game, where one team will lose.
As for the No. 7 Beavers, they are still set to play Oregon in the Civil War on Nov. 24, and possibly a Pac-12 championship game on Nov. 30 against USC, either at the Coliseum or in Corvallis, Ore.