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Tuesday, September 4, 2012
On no longer being No. 1

By Pedro Moura

LOS ANGELES -- Lane Kiffin doesn't vote in the USA Today Coaches' Poll anymore, which is probably a good thing for his sake, considering his Tuesday comments about the USC Trojans dropping in the polls.

Asked about the Alabama Crimson Tide leapfrogging USC in the Associated Press top 25, Kiffin made it sound like he'd do the same thing if he were still a voter.

"I would agree with that," he said. "I didn't watch any of the game because we can't, but from what I heard, they played a really good Michigan team in a big matchup and played really well."

Kiffin said last month that he "would not vote USC No. 1" in the coaches' poll, but it was later revealed that he in fact had. He later said the "would" was meant to indicate him taking on the perspective of somebody else, in that case Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez.

This time, Kiffin said he did not care about where his team was ranked and felt no pressure to try to run up the score against Syracuse on Saturday to bounce back after Alabama, who hosts Western Kentucky this week.

"We're just trying to make it to the next round," Kiffin said. "We made it to the second one, and we need to play well to make it to the third."

Kiffin's top player, quarterback Matt Barkley, echoed his sentiments. Being No. 1 is irrelevant, at least this early in the season. But being No. 2 might not be totally irrelevant, Barkley indicated.

"I've said from the get-go: It doesn't mean anything to me," Barkley said. "They're very deserving of that, if they're on top. I know they're a great team. Right now, it doesn't mean anything to us.

"We're 1 or 2, wherever we are."

USC also moved up to No. 2 in the coaches' poll, jumping LSU because the first poll had been taken before Tyrann Mathieu was suspended for the 2012 season.

Barkley said he and his teammates take no inspiration from moving up or down in any polls.

"It doesn't motivate me," he said. "A ranking doesn't motivate me. I think being perfect is what motivates us and the rankings and all that other stuff falls into place."