There's a Big 4 at top of college football

By Ralph D. Russo

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, Oct. 28 2012 10:13 p.m. MDT

That's a high standard to meet, but that's where the bar is set for the top SEC programs these days.

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MOVING DOWN

USC, now that's a disappointing team.

Even after losing at Stanford in September, the Trojans were No. 10 with a chance to work their way back into the national title race. Another sloppy performance led to their second loss of the season.

The Trojans had more than 600 yards, including 493 passing by Barkley, against Arizona. Star receiver Marqise Lee had 16 catches for a Pac-12 record 345 yards. But USC committed five turnovers and 13 penalties and let a 15-point, second-half lead slip away.

Coach Lane Kiffin's talented team has been its own worst enemy all season. USC is the most penalized team in the country, averaging 10.3 per game for 84.6 yards. The Trojans are tied for 94th in the nation with 18 giveaways.

The irony is USC will still be front and center in the national championship chase.

The Trojans play Oregon on Saturday, and finish their regular season on Nov. 24 at home against Notre Dame. The Trojans still control their destiny in the Pac-12 South, and could reach the conference title game, possibly for a rematch with Oregon.

Playing spoiler, however, is not what the Trojans had in mind this season.

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IN AND OUT

From undefeated to unranked.

Rutgers pulled off that trick with a ghastly performance at home against Kent State.

The Scarlet Knights committed seven turnovers and the Golden Flashes won 35-23 for the Mid-American Conference's fourth victory this season against the Big East tis season. For the second straight week, a ranked and unbeaten Big East team lost to a MAC team. Last week, it was Cincinnati losing at Toledo.

Rutgers, which only had six turnovers coming into the game, had been ranked 18th.

The silver lining for the Scarlet Knights is they are still very much in play for their first Big East championship. They play Army next week before finishing the season against Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and No. 12 Louisville.

The Big East didn't have much chance of sending a team to the national title game, but those nonconference loses have taken some of the luster off what was set to be an intriguing league race.

Elsewhere in the MAC, Ohio University also went from unbeaten to unranked. The Bobcats, ranked for the first time since 1968, lost 23-20 to league rival Miami of Ohio.

MAC teams Toledo (8-1, 5-0), Kent State (7-1, 4-0), Northern Illinois (8-1, 5-0) and Ohio (7-1, 3-1) all received votes in the latest AP Top 25.

Also falling out of the rankings was Michigan. Moving back in was No. 21 Nebraska, No. 24 Arizona and No. 25 UCLA.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Louisville has not been ranked this high since it reached No. 8 early in the 2007 season, the year after Bobby Petrino coached the Cardinals to the Orange Bowl, and then bolted for the NFL.

Louisville fell out of the rankings in September 2007, and didn't get back in until the start of this season.

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ODDS AND ENDS

Newly ranked Arizona and UCLA play at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. ... No. 16 Texas A&M is at No, 17 Mississippi State. The Bulldogs, who were trounced by Alabama 38-7 on Saturday, will try to avoid a two-game losing streak after starting the season 7-0.

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