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The Media, The Polls and ... UGH!

I would like to say that I will rant only once this year. However, I know I'll continue to be really frustrated as long as LSU keeps winning (fingers crossed).

First, I'll admit I didn't watch USC-Nebraska because I was in the hallowed ground of Death Valley Saturday. But, having watched highlights, listened to pundits and looked at stats, I gather the following: The Trojans offensive line was dominant. They blew up Nebraska, opening up holes that you or I could have gained eight yards a pop through. That's great, congrats.

Here's what I don't get: Why does that make you No. 1? First, why it actually does -- because voters had USC No. 1 to start and they want something to back up their original opinion so they were "right." Now, why it shouldn't. Yes, USC's win over Nebraska was impressive, there's no doubting that. But, which win was more impressive, USC's or LSU's over Virginia Tech. Who looked better? I would argue LSU on both. But, let's look at it from a voter's perspective, in terms of what he was looking for out of the Trojans this past Saturday:

1) A dominant defensive performance. The single biggest reason USC was viewed as the No. 1 team to begin with was the perceived strength of its defense, what with veteran standouts Lawrence Jackson, Sedrick Ellis, Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing. Nebraska boasts a far more potent offense than Virginia Tech, so it's not like I expect the Trojans to hold the Huskers to 149 yards like LSU did the Hokies. But if the Trojans' defense is, in fact, on the same level as their 2003 and '04 national title teams, it's not unreasonable to expect them to neutralize Nebraska RB Marlon Lucky. And while they may give up some yards through the air to talented QB Sam Keller, they should make up for it by pressuring Keller into forcing turnovers (as is Pete Carroll's forte).

Well, first I'd argue USC was viewed No. 1 as much because of John David Booty (I have no idea why) as much as the defense. Second, I'd argue the defense is living off its reputation. While LSU has the No. 1 scoring and total defense in the country (by FAR on both), USC is merely average on both this year. In fact, LSU is in the top five in the nation in total defense (1), scoring defense (1), pass defense (2), rushing defense (3), sacks (4) and turnover margin (5). Outside of ranking ninth in rushing defense, USC is no better than 40th in ANY of those categories. Some of USC's numbers are skewed by late TDs by Nebraska, but LSU has given up fewer yards all season than the Huskers put up on on the Trojans. Third, USC has a negative turnover margin on the season, so USC doesn't have that going for it thus far (PS - LSU is fifth nationally in TO margin).

Granted, it's still early. However, I really wish those that are supposed to be impartial would actually study everything and not look only for facts that back up their earlier opinions. The longer pundits and voters hold on to "what we'll eventually see" as opposed to what we've seen, the more of a joke their polls become. As it stands right now, the top four should be LSU, USC, Florida and Oklahoma (nobody else should be getting a top four vote from anyone). LSU's win over Virginia Tech is the most impressive of the top four teams. The Trojans over Nebraska is close behind and just edges out the Gators over Tennessee. Oklahoma has steamrolled teams, but so have the other three, and the Sooners' opponents have been pretty weak.

Until any of the top four shows a sign of weakness or one does more to separate itself, that should be the top four.