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After two-year ban, USC glad to be back in BCS standings

The Trojans, who were ineligible for a bowl the last two seasons, are 10th in the initial BCS standings.

October 15, 2012|By Gary Klein

NCAA sanctions kept USC out of bowl games for two years and, as a byproduct, from inclusion in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

USC returned Sunday, polls and computers combining to put the Trojans at No. 10 in the first BCS standings.

"I think a lot of people, two years ago when our sanctions and probation were handed down, wouldn't think that we would be in these discussions for a long time," Coach Lane Kiffin said during a teleconference with reporters. "So, good to be in there, and we need to keep winning."

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USC, 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the Pac-12 Conference after a 24-14 victory Saturday at Washington, remained 11th in the Associated Press media poll.

The Trojans, who play Colorado at the Coliseum on Saturday, stayed ninth in the USA Today coaches' poll and dropped from 10th to 11th in the Harris poll. Both are part of the BCS formula.

"They do mean nothing right now," Kiffin said of the standings. "Whether you want to pay attention to it or not, it shuffles itself out and takes care of itself.

"Obviously, you want to be in those conversations and somewhere on the board the whole year."

Much of the discussion after USC's victory over Washington concerned Kiffin's decision to go conservative and avoid passing. Quarterback Matt Barkley completed only 10 of 20 passes for 167 yards and a touchdown, with one interception.

"He's not going to show a lot of excitement, obviously, about those numbers, but I think he does understand why we're doing what we're doing," Kiffin said of Barkley.

Kiffin said again Sunday that letting the team play to its defense and special teams was the right call against Washington at CenturyLink Field, where the Huskies had defeated Stanford and where the Seattle Seahawks beat the New England Patriots on Sunday.

"Bill Belichick losing up there," Kiffin said, referring to the Patriots' coach, "it's a tough place to play."

Kiffin said he understood the frustration of Trojans fans "that we're not putting up the numbers that we'd all like to.

"But at the end of the day, we're going to do the best thing to win."

Brown's block

Sophomore cornerback Anthony Brown scored his first touchdown when he blocked a Washington punt and returned it to the end zone.

Kiffin said Brown was in because cornerback Kevon Seymour and safety Demetrius Wright had left the game, presumably because of injuries. Brown said on the field after the game that he was free to make the play when a Washington blocker zeroed in on T.J. McDonald.

"I blocked it and got back to my feet and saw the ball," Brown said. "Hustling, hustling, hustling to the football. That's what hustling will do."

Quick hits

Josh Shaw, who intercepted a pass against Washington, is listed behind cornerback Torin Harris on the depth chart for the Colorado game. ... Kiffin said offensive tackles Aundrey Walker and Kevin Graf played "just OK" against Washington, which had two sacks. ... The Trojans are off Monday. They resume practice Tuesday.

gary.klein@latimes.com twitter.com/latimesklein

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