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The Race For No. 1

September 26, 2004|Jim Barrero

USC had college football's main stage virtually to itself Saturday and nearly flopped like a bad Broadway play.

With No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 3 Georgia taking the week off, and No. 4 Miami having played Thursday, the No. 1 Trojans had a golden opportunity to distance themselves even more from the others.

But a come-from-behind 31-28 victory at Stanford, while positive since it came in its Pacific 10 Conference opener, probably won't endear USC to voters who might be looking for any reason to tear down the Trojans.

Still, USC never panicked and made the plays it needed to when it mattered most. And isn't that what a No. 1 team is supposed to do?

No. 5 Texas rolled over Rice, 35-13, and plays Baylor before participating in an elimination game of sorts in two weeks against Oklahoma at Dallas.

No. 6 West Virginia continued to sneak up and easily handled Division I-AA James Madison, 45-10, to keep itself on track to burrow toward the top if it can combine a victory next week at Virginia Tech with a few losses in the coming weeks by higher-ranked teams.

Next Saturday, Georgia gets a stiff test at home against No. 13 Louisiana State, and No. 9 Auburn plays No. 11 Tennessee at Knoxville.

-- Jim Barrero

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