USC Is Undeniably No. 1, But Who Deserves to be No. 2?

David NethersCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2008

It was either a blowout of a bad Ohio State Buckeyes team, or a stunning display of dominance by a USC team that really is that good.

In a matchup that had been hyped for months Ohio State was so dominated by USC that ABC's audience could not have helped but decline throughout the game.

The Buckeyes were dramatically outplayed.

Could Ohio State really be that bad?  Most of the starters from a team that made it to the BCS championship game last year are back, including at least three bonafide NFL players.

For as overrated as many believe they are, Ohio State was easy to put in the top five before the USC game.  It would be hard to put them back there after a struggle against the Ohio Bobcats and Saturday's blowout by USC.

USC, on the other hand, may just be that good.  Mark Sanchez completed 17 of 28 passes for 172 yards and four touchdowns. Joe McKnight rushed for 105 yards on 12 carries.

Damien Williams caught two touchdown passes and on defense, Middle Linebacker Rey Maualuga, lived up to his star billing with a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown. 

All of that against a defense that has a star linebacker of its own as part of a unit that Pete Carroll earlier in the week called, "an incredible team".

Unless there is an upset, similar to the Stanford game last year, USC is almost certainly destined for the BCS championship game this year.  So the question is, at this point in the season, who is capable of challenging them? 

Lets take a look.



The Bulldogs started the season No. 1 in some polls, but quickly dropped to No. 2 in the AP and USA Today Poll. 

The Dawgs have a tough schedule with Alabama, LSU and Florida still ahead. Getting through the season undefeated looks less likely after barely getting past South Carolina, an unranked conference rival not expected to do better than fourth place in the SEC East. 

If the Bulldogs can't do better against the likes of South Carolina their chances of getting back to the title game for the first time in 28 years is fading.  And any chance of beating USC, should they get there, looks dismal.

If this is the best the SEC has to offer the conference isn't getting back to the title game this year.  Or, in what could be a sad fate, for the second straight year the Bulldogs could be leap-frogged by another team from the SEC (Florida).



Bobby Stoops made a statement with his Sooners on saturday in a thrashing of the unranked Washington Huskies 55-14.  That is exactly what it should have been... a blowout. 

Washington is now 0-3 for the season, having lost to three ranked teams, Oregon, Bringham Young and now Oklahoma, giving up an AVERAGE of 42 points per game. Oklahoma racked up almost 600 yards against Washington, scoring on the last four possessions of the first half and the first three posessions of the second half.   

Oklahoma is no stranger to surprises during the season, and with Texas on their schedule, the Sooners might find themselves in second place after this weekend—but for how long?



The Gators aren't the highest ranked of the SEC teams, but should they be?

Tim Tebow and company have outscored their first two opponents 86-13. And while Hawaii, as we now know, shouldn't have been much of a contest, one would have expected an extra effort from cross-state rival, Miami.

The Gators had week three off and then return to play an underachieving Tennessee team.  They still have to face LSU, South Carolina, Florida State, and, the world's largest cocktail party in Jacksonville when they face Georgia on November 1.

It is possible they could have at least one loss by then. The Gators have as good of a chance as any other team to be one of the top 2 at the end of the season.


Missouri dismantled an unranked Nevada on Saturday. Their Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback threw for a new school record 405 yards. 

Missouri is now 3-0 having scored no less than 52 points in each game. BUT, they also let their week one opponent, Illinois, score 42 points.  

Texas and Kansas are the only ranked teams left on their schedule.  The Tigers might just get into the top five if they play their cards right, but even if they get to the No. 2 spot, can they take on the Trojans? 



LSU may have lost some great players from last year, but they kept some too. The Tigers beat their week three opponent 41-3 in what has started to become as familiar as the last lyrics of a scratched record. (lp, vinyl, ask your parents) 

The Tigers have Auburn, Florida, Georgia and Alabama on the schedule, so they will have to earn everything they get.

Their running game is great, but their passing game may keep them closer to seventh place than to first or second.

That doesnt exclude them from any conversation about the BCS championship.  They were in 7th place with just one week left in the regular season last year and, with the help of two key losses, jumped to number two after the final week..the rest is history. 

 With the teams that are currently in front of them this year, its possible that could happen again. They will need it!  Of course then they would have to face USC and there's no question which would be the favorite in that matchup.



Now here's a team that shows up in a lot of places against a lot of ranked opponents—Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas Tech and Kansas. 

 Dealing with the after effects of Ike, these players and their families need our support and prayers, not our droning about their chances for glory.

Oklahoma and Missouri might not be as sympathetic when they meet on the gridiron. Texas might just make the battle for No. 2 interesting.   



Auburn wont be there. I feel certain we can say that even now. 

The team is on its way toward earning respectability, but where was their offense on Saturday?  Beating an unranked Mississippi state 3-2 (that’s really the score, not a typo) isn’t exactly like USC beating Ohio State.

Auburn also has LSU, Georgia, and Alabama on its schedule. Even with a tough defense you need some offense to win and even if Auburn were to get to a title game with USC, it wouldn’t be pretty.



Wisconsin hasn’t played a major school yet, and in just squeaking past Fresno State, 13 – 10, Saturday evening, lost their quarterback with a leg injury.

That’s not a formula for winning it all, or even getting there.


I also love BYU this year, but everyone ahead of them might have to lose two or more games before they can move up.

It happened to Ohio State last year, a team that started the season ranked 11th, and after everyone started losing in front of them, they finished the regular season No. 1. 


So who do you think is capable of competing with USC?  College football's race for the crystal trophy just got a lot more interesting.


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