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USC FYI

They can see the way up

September 29, 2008|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC players gathered Sunday for the first time since losing at Oregon State, their place in the college football landscape changed but not as badly as some feared.

The Trojans tumbled from No. 1 to ninth in the USA Today coaches' and Associated Press media polls and debuted at No. 7 in the Harris Interactive Poll. The coaches' poll, the Harris poll and computer rankings are used to determine the Bowl Championship Series standings, which come out for the first time next month.

"Big picture-wise, we're still in good shape," quarterback Mark Sanchez said.

Georgia and Florida were among other highly ranked teams that fell in the polls after losses. Both dropped eight spots, the same as USC, in the AP rankings, Georgia from No. 3 to 11th, Florida from No. 4 to 12th. The coaches' poll has the Bulldogs tied for 10th and the Gators at No. 13.

"It's college football, anything can happen," USC guard Jeff Byers said. "If you don't show up to play, you're going to get beat. We proved that and other teams proved that."

Sanchez said Coach Pete Carroll touched on several issues during the team meeting. The main message centered on how the Trojans and other highly regarded college and NFL teams were defeated this weekend not because they were inferior, but because they were outplayed.

Asked what lesson the Trojans would learn from their loss, Sanchez said, "The SC interlock logo isn't going to win games. . . . You can't just show up. That's what we did."

Starting today, USC will turn its attention to Oregon, which is ranked No. 23 in the AP poll and visits the Coliseum on Saturday. A victory over the Ducks would start the Trojans on their way back into contention for a spot in the BCS championship game.

"We have to win all of the games we have left and we'll be all right," offensive lineman Charles Brown said.

Quick kicks

Linebacker Rey Maualuga, who suffered a knee sprain against Oregon State, is expected to have an MRI exam on his knee today. Maualuga had traveled to Eureka, Calif., to be with his family after the game. . . . Safety Taylor Mays (chest bruise) said he would have an X-ray today. . . . Linebacker Brian Cushing wore a cast on his right hand for a broken bone suffered against Oregon State. "I just got the other one off," Cushing said in reference to a cast he had been wearing for a left wrist sprain. . . . Cornerback Shareece Wright, who did not play against Oregon State because of a fractured vertebra, attended the meeting wearing a neck brace. Wright said he did not know how long he would be out. "I just thank God we did tests and found out what was wrong with it," he said.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

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