Left out of the BCS title game last season, top-ranked Southern California isn’t exactly jumping for joy over its No. 1 standing in this year’s first poll.
“It’s nice to be recognized, we’re not putting a whole lot of stock in it at this time,” said USC coach Pete Carroll, whose team took the AP national title last year while watching Louisiana State beat Oklahoma for the BCS championship.
“There’s a lot of season left and it’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.”
In the meantime, the Trojans will look to extend their home winning streak to 19 games when they take on Pac-10 rival Washington on Saturday.
The Trojans (6-0, 3-0 Pac-10) have won 18 straight at the Los Angeles Coliseum and are one win shy of matching the school record set from 1931-33.
The Trojans have won 15 straight overall dating to last season thanks largely to the efforts of junior quarterback Matt Leinart and sophomore running back Reggie Bush.
Leinart has completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 1,411 yards and 14 touchdowns with just three interceptions in six games.
While Leinart has been running the show, Bush has been the show stopper.
The electrifying tailback has a team-high eight touchdowns and is averaging 184 yards of total offense per game. Bush has 374 rushing yards, 247 receiving yards and leads USC with 1,104 all-purpose yards.
Leinart threw four first-half touchdowns as USC routed No. 21 Arizona State 45-7 last Saturday.
“This was an important statement—we left no doubt about it,” Carroll said.
The Trojans gained 446 yards to just 243 for the Sun Devils and held ASU to 24 yards on 30 rush attempts thanks mainly to eight sacks—the same total the Sun Devils allowed in their previous five games.
Leinart easily won his quarterbacking duel with ASU’s Andrew Walter.
In the first half, Leinart completed 11 of 16 passes for 193 yards and four touchdowns and ran for another score. He finished 13-of-24 for 224 yards with no interceptions and was sacked once, before sitting out the fourth quarter.
“We do have a quick-strike offense; we can made big plays,” Leinart said. “It was evident today.”
Highly regarded freshman wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett, filling in for the injured Steve Smith, had five catches for 139 yards and three TDs.
“It was a great day for Dwayne,” Carroll said. “He’s over the hump—he’s not a pup anymore.”
The Huskies (1-5, 0-3) have been hampered by injuries and costly turnovers all season.
Washington had seven giveaways in a 29-14 loss to Oregon State last Saturday.
The Huskies had opportunities, but fullback James Sims fumbled twice inside the 5-yard-line. Washington backup quarterback Isaiah Stanback fumbled twice in the fourth quarter deep in his own territory, leading to six Oregon State points.
Casey Paus started at quarterback for the Huskies, but lasted just two series before leaving with an ankle injury. Paus was 1-for-5 for two yards and two interceptions in the first quarter.
The injury-plagued Huskies also lost sophomore defensive tackle Dan Milsten to a broken left leg and wide receiver Charles Frederick to a hamstring injury.
Paus is questionable for Saturday’s game, and it’s unlikely Frederick will be able to play.
“I don’t know that you’ll see Charles (Frederick),” Washington head coach Keith Gilbertson said. “He missed two weeks with that before, so I’m not sure that’s not still the same case.”
Frederick leads the Huskies with 17 receptions and 253 receiving yards.
In the last two weeks, starting offensive tackle Khalif Barnes broke his right wrist and defensive lineman Donny Mateaki was lost for the season with a foot tendon injury.
USC has won three of its last four meetings with Washington, including the last two.
Last year in Seattle, Leinart threw four touchdown passes, including a pair to Bush, to lead USC to a convincing 43-23 win.