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More reaction to USC's loss

September 27, 2008 | 11:14 am

Upset

How is USC's shocking loss to Oregon State on Thursday night playing with the movers and shakers in the college football poll business?

I surveyed a few of the 114 panelists who will vote in in this year's Harris Interactive college football poll, which will make its debut after games of this weekend.

A couple of the voters got back to me after my print story went to deadline, so here are their reactions to the defeat:

Tommy Hicks covers college football for the Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register. Here are some of his observations about how far USC might drop in the Sunday polls. Hicks said he had USC No. 1 in the mock Harris poll that the panelists were asked to submit last week.

"A lot has to do with what happens in other games, especially Georgia-Alabama (I had the Bulldogs No. 2). There's no question USC has a lot of talent, but at the same time, I don't believe the final score reflected the way the game was played last night. ... Hard to say where I'll have them. Somewhere between 11 and 15 maybe."

Corky Simpson is a retired and legendary longtime columnist with the Tucson Citizen. He knows a little bit about the poll racket. It was Simpson, as an AP voter in 1992, who cast the only preseason No. 1 vote for Alabama and rode the Crimson Tide all the way to the national title. Alabama invited Simpson to be the grand marshal in the team's title-game parade -- and Corky accepted.

Corky is now retired but staying busy by contributing his expertise to the Harris Poll.

Here are his thoughts on USC's 27-21 loss in Corvallis:

"I'd think we'd all agree, the best team in college football got beat Thursday night in Corvallis. A big upset for sure. But 'stunning?' Not if you've spent any time in the Pac-10. Where the Trojans wind up in the polls depends, of course, on what happens elsewhere on Saturday. But they won't 'fall,' Chris. They may slip a bit, that's all.

"The rest of the country has no idea how difficult it is to play on the road in the Pac-10. And you won't find fans anywhere more loyal than those at Oregon State."

For what it's worth, I tried to pull a "Corky" in my own polling. In 1997, I had North Carolina as my preseason No. 1. Mack Brown's Tar Heels finished 11-1 and No. 4 in the final coaches' poll. The lone defeat was to Florida State in Chapel Hill. Missed it by THAT much. True story: Brown left for Texas after that season. The next year, I visited Mack in Austin and the first thing he did was apologize to me for not winning it all. "We let you down," Mack said.

Brown got his national title at Texas in 2005

The Harris poll, in 2005, replaced the AP poll in BCS standings formula.

Los Angeles Times policy prohibits me from voting in the BCS or else I might have gone with Wake Forest as my preseason No.1 this year!

-- Chris Dufresne

Photo: Oregon State's James Rodgers hauls in a touchdown catch Thursday against USC to give the Beavers a 21-0 halftime lead. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

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