Sports Outside the Beltway

USC Leaps Over Michigan in BCS Poll

Losing to Ohio State two weeks ago didn’t drop Michigan out of the #2 spot in the BCS rankings. Having the week off did.

Southern California is a win away from returning to the national title game. The Trojans moved into second place in the Bowl Championship Series standings Sunday, passing idle Michigan on the strength of a 44-24 victory over Notre Dame and closing in on a matchup with undefeated Ohio State in the title game.

USC plays crosstown-rival UCLA on Saturday and a victory would likely lock up the Trojans’ third consecutive appearance in the BCS title game. The Trojans have already locked up the Pac-10′s automatic BCS bid, but playing in the Rose Bowl would be a letdown for USC this season.

“I think we’re a pretty good team right now,” USC coach Pete Carroll said after beating Notre Dame. “We’ll play anybody, anywhere.”

First-place Ohio State has already sealed up its trip to Glendale, Ariz., for the Jan. 8 championship game. The final BCS standings and bowl pairings will be announced next Sunday.

Michigan had managed to hold onto second place after losing 42-39 at Ohio State two weeks ago, but the Wolverines’ lead over USC was razor thin.

USC’s convincing victory over the Fighting Irish helped the Trojans increase their cushion over Michigan in the coaches’ poll and Harris poll, and boosted USC’s computer rating ahead of the Wolverines’.

This is the right result, as it would have been absurd to have a rematch between undefeated Ohio State and a team that they’d already beaten decide the mythical national championship. Still, it’s a mighty strange process.

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