We held out as long as we could, but it is time to relent. We refused to hand Southern California the top ranking in our poll, which is based strictly on this season's performance, until it proved worthy. Well, the Trojans have done so their past two second halves.

It is not only that USC's past two victories, comeback wins from double-digit deficits, were on the road against Oregon and Arizona State, two top 25-caliber programs. The Trojans' four opponents also have a combined record of 9-9. Texas's four opponents are 6-10. While the Longhorns still have the best road victory of the season -- against Ohio State at the Horseshoe -- their other three opponents have left much to be desired.

Debate also involves the fifth position. Georgia's pounding of its strongest opponent, Boise State, does not outweigh Alabama's dismantling of Florida's spread-option offense in Coach Urban Meyer's first loss in two years.

Results over the next two Saturdays could jumble these rankings, in addition to the makeup of the three major national polls, just in time for the release of the first Bowl Championship Series standings Oct. 17. Theoretically, three teams could make a case for the top spot in two weeks: Virginia Tech, by virtue of simply remaining unbeaten; Notre Dame, by ending what likely will be USC's 27-game win streak Oct. 15; or Georgia, by winning at Tennessee today.

On a final note, too bad for the poor Idaho Vandals, who lose even when they win. Two weeks ago, the Vandals received five points in the Harris Interactive poll despite an 0-4 record. Last week, they beat Utah State but lost the points in the poll.