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September 14, 2007
LSU playing its way into discussion for No. 1
Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. This week he heads to the Heartland for the big Miami-Oklahoma game.
Sept. 6: Reason for hope
August 31: Bull market
August 24: Fight at the top
August 17: Dreams of youth
Who's No. 1? Who should be No. 1?
Does it really matter?
The polls say USC. That's hard to argue, with the Trojans returning 10 defensive starters, quarterback John David Booty and a deep pool of talented skill-position players from last year's 11-victory team.
Who should be No. 1?
Well, the eye test would seem to indicate it's LSU after seeing the Tigers dismantle Virginia Tech. If nothing else, the Hokies were expected to have a strong defense, yet LSU rolled up almost 600 yards against them.
So what does USC have that LSU doesn't?
Nothing. Like USC, the Tigers are overflowing with skill-position talent. Jacob Hester and Keiland Williams have rushed for more than 140 yards, and wide receiver Early Doucet has 15 catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns.
As good as USC's defense is expected to be, LSU's looks to be at least its equal. The Tigers have allowed seven points and forced eight turnovers (seven interceptions, one fumble) in two games.
USC has the more experienced quarterback in Booty, coincidentally a Louisiana native who passed for more than 3,000 yards last season.
But LSU's Matt Flynn, JaMarcus Russell's understudy the past two seasons, has completed 63 percent of his passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns.
So who is No. 1? That might depend on where you live.
Actually, it doesn't matter, not until the BCS standings come out next month. Even then, being No. 2 is just as good as being No. 1 because each will play in the championship game.
The more compelling question: Who's No. 3?
Swap at the top?
Do you think that after LSU's thrashing of Virginia Tech, they should be ranked No. 1?
— Edward in Lafayette, La.
That's a very tough question, and my answer will make many Louisianans hotter than Avery Island peppers.
Michigan is 0-2 and could fall to 0-3 this weekend if it loses to Notre Dame. If that happened, would Lloyd Carr seriously consider stepping down after the season?
— Chris in Michigan
Only Lloyd Carr knows for sure, and he isn't saying. Any comments on that subject are pure speculation.
I know (Oregon quarterback) Dennis Dixon has had consistency problems in the past, but if he can sustain his current play throughout the season how do you see the Ducks faring?
— Zach in Central Point, Ore.
The fake Statue of Liberty play that Dixon executed for a touchdown against Michigan last week was the slickest play I've seen since … well, since Boise State's hook-and-ladder in last season's Fiesta Bowl.
Do you expect (linebacker) Brian Cushing of USC to be at full strength after his ankle injury last week?
— Jack in Billings
Jack, I put your question to Ryan Abraham, one of our Los Angeles contacts at USCfootball.com. Cushing told him the lower ankle sprain suffered against Idaho is hurting, but that nothing would keep him from playing. Cushing will be in the lineup at Nebraska on Saturday.
Tigers' offense too tame?
Is it just me, or has Al Borges' play-calling been absolutely horrible since his 2004 debut at Auburn?
— Adam in Auburn, Ala.
Sorry, Adam. I think you're alone on this one. At the least, I'm not jumping on that bandwagon.
Indiana doesn't have to play Michigan or Ohio State this year. Is it realistic for the Hoosiers to beat Wisconsin and win the Big Ten?
— Jonah in Bloomington, Ind.
Whoa … slow down there a little bit. I know the motto at Indiana is "Play 13," but I'm betting that was never to imply the 13th game would be the Rose Bowl.
Olin Buchanan is the senior national college football writer for Rivals.com. To send him a question or comment for his Friday Mailbag, click here.