NEW YORK (AP) — Southern California jumped two spots to No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 on Tuesday, rewarded by voters for opening the season with a dominant performance on the road against a BCS conference opponent.
Georgia and Ohio State, the preseason Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, started their seasons with glorified scrimmages at home against FCS (formerly I-AA) teams.
USC's 52-7 victory Saturday at Virginia helped the Trojans vault past the Bulldogs and Buckeyes from No. 3 in the preseason. Georgia fell to No. 2 and Ohio State to No. 3.
"We realize that rankings so early in a season are certainly fluid. But rankings do help establish a pecking order for things later in the season," USC coach Pete Carroll said in a statement. "As for moving into the No. 1 spot, it's nice to know that people think highly of our team."
The voting was close. USC received 21 first-place votes and 1,539 points from the 65-member media panel. Georgia had 20 first-place votes and 1,506 points. Ohio State got 15 first-place votes and 1,497 points.
"I'd say we've evolved as pollsters," said Stewart Mandel of SI.com, who moved USC up to No. 1. "In the past, voters just kind of automatically moved teams up and kept teams where they were if they won."
Georgia beat Georgia Southern 45-21 on Saturday and Ohio State opened with a 43-0 win over Youngstown State.
"There's a bit of a growing backlash for the amount of teams that open with I-AA cupcakes," said Mandel, whose book "Bowl, Polls and Tattered Souls" chronicles college football's controversies. "To see a team (USC) go on the road and play a New Year's Day bowl team from last season, and not only play them but destroy them, how could you not reward that team?"
USC also jumped past Georgia to No. 1 in the USA Today coaches' poll, which has the same top five as the AP poll.
Georgia and Ohio State each had a key player injured last week.
Bulldogs defensive tackle Jeff Owens injured his knee and will need season-ending surgery. He's the second starting lineman Georgia has lost for the season to a knee injury in the last month. Left tackle Trinton Sturdivant was injured in preseason practice.
Ohio State star Chris "Beanie" Wells injured his foot. X-rays showed no major damage, but his status for Saturday's game against Ohio — and more importantly the Buckeyes' showdown with USC on Sept. 13 at Los Angeles — is uncertain.
The last team to drop from No. 1 after a victory was USC last season. LSU jumped from No. 2 to No. 1 when it beat Tulane 34-9, the same week the Trojans edged Washington on the road, 27-24.
The next four teams in the Top 25 stayed the same: No. 4 Oklahoma (two first-place votes), No. 5 Florida (five first-place votes), No. 6 Missouri (one first-place votes), No. 7 LSU (one first-place votes) and No. 8 West Virginia.
No. 9 Auburn and No. 10 Texas each moved up a spot, taking advantage of Clemson's big drop. Clemson, ninth in the preseason, fell out after losing 34-10 to Alabama on Saturday.
Also falling out after losses were Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh and Tennessee.
Moving into the rankings were No. 21 Fresno State, No. 22 Utah, No. 23 UCLA and No. 24 South Carolina.
Alabama moved up 11 spots after its big victory over Clemson.
The second 10 started with No. 11 Wisconsin, followed by Texas Tech, Alabama, Kansas and BYU and Arizona State were tied for 15th.
South Florida was No. 17, ahead of Oregon, Penn State, and Wake Forest at No. 20.
The final five were all the teams to move into the ranking, except for Illinois, which dropped four spots and tied South Carolina for No. 24.