USC's climb up the polls on Sunday appears to again put the Trojans in prime position for a run at the Bowl Championship Series title game.
But it did not exactly move Trojans Coach Pete Carroll. "I'm certainly not going to try and figure it out," he said.
The Trojans' 28-0 victory over Arizona State, combined with losses by several other ranked teams, moved USC from ninth to fourth in the coaches' poll and from eighth to fifth in the Harris Interactive Poll. The two polls and computer rankings are used to determine the Bowl Championship Series standings, which come out for the first time next week.
The Trojans jumped from eighth to sixth in the Associated Press media poll after an uneven performance on offense Saturday.
Carroll maintained that he was not concerned with margin of victory or other issues to sway pollsters.
"There are teams, when they get into that kind of mode where there's conversation about it, those are usually teams that aren't there very often and are making a pitch for their cause," he said. "I don't think we're in that position."
After watching his team commit five turnovers, including four by quarterback Mark Sanchez in the third quarter, Carroll said "there was no gnashing off teeth" when he attended a campus barbecue on Saturday night. He spent Sunday evening studying film of Washington State, which fell to 1-6 overall and 0-4 in the Pacific 10 Conference by losing at Oregon State, 66-13.
"If they are, in fact, still a struggling team, then we should play well against them," Carroll said. "If that's not the case, it could be different."
The Cougars have given up at least 60 points three times this season and could be down to their fourth-string quarterback because of injuries.
That bodes well for USC, which ranks first nationally in scoring defense (9.4 points a game) and fourth in total defense (241 yards a game).
But defensive tackle Fili Moala said the Trojans would not overlook the Cougars. "We'll prepare like they're the best team in the world, which they are because we're playing them," Moala said.
USC's offense, meanwhile, is hoping to get back on track.
Carroll expected that Sanchez would come into the football offices, as usual, to study film on Sunday night and that he would put the Arizona State game behind.