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August 19, 2008
Tight battle for title of best linebacker
Ohio State's James Laurinaitis and USC's Rey Maualuga enter the season as the top two linebackers in the Rivals.com Power Rankings, which measure the nation's top players and coaches at each position.
The matchup between Laurinaitis and Maualuga will feature one of the nation's top big-game performers and the game's hardest hitter.
Laurinaitis, the most recent winner of the Butkus Award that annually is given to the nation's top linebacker, has shown a knack for delivering on the big stage. He forced two fumbles in a victory over Texas two years ago, recorded 19 tackles in a victory over Wisconsin last season and made 18 tackles in the BCS Championship Game loss to LSU.
We're introducing our preseason power rankings on a position-by-position basis. We'll continue Wednesday with the introduction of our defensive back rankings.
The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.
Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.