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August 11, 2012

ESPN has named USC #1?!

I have been kind of busy working, raising a family and working on a second Masters degree through the University of Missouri (my first was at Texas A&M after undergrad at LSU).  When did USC become the team to beat this year?  I know preseason rankings don't mean diddly but should ESPN rank USC preseason #1?

Let's set aside the fact that ESPN is rewarding a team on its first year off of sanctions and evaluate the possibility that USC deserves to be ranked #1 in preseason.  Often it is said that preseason rankings are largely based on the previous year's performance.  I do not follow USC so let's take a look back at how they performed last year.

Did USC play quality ranked opponents last year?  Yep, USC played two ranked teams Oregon and Stanford.  USC beat a then #4 ranked Oregon team 38-35 and only lost to a #6 ranked Stanford 56-48 in triple OT.  Wonder if that was the same Oregon team that LSU beat 40-27 despite LSU having starting players missing and the distraction of legal action looming over there heads at the time?  Must not be the same Oregon team, because the score seems to indicate that LSU's win was a bit more substantial.  Maybe the triple overtime loss to Stanford was an impressive loss.

Was that USC's only loss last season? No, USC also lost to Arizona State 43-22.  Maybe Arizona State was really good last year.  Um, well ASU wasn't half bad they went 6-6 in the regular season and only dropped to 6-7 after losing to Boise State 56-24 in the MAACO Bowl.  Interesting.

Well maybe USC blew out ever other opponent last year.  There is still hope that USC may be a legitimate preseason #1.  USC opened up at home last season by beating Minnesota 19-17.  Admittedly, a close game but maybe Minnesota was a powerhouse last year.  Oh, nope - Minnesota went 3-9 last year but of those 9 losses they did have one close loss.  Wait that was the two point loss to USC at USC.  I will also mention that USC only beat an unranked Arizona team by 7 point last season but I think you get the picture.  Last year's record does not warrant naming USC preseason #1 even if the entire USC team is returning this year.

Maybe USC compares favorably to LSU and Alabama that are ranked #2 and #3 respectively by ESPN.  In 9 out of 14 games LSU played against ranked opponents.  They went 13-1 only losing in the BCS championship.  Even in that one loss LSU allowed only one touchdown.  Though LSU had almost no offense in both of the games against the eventual national champions, LSU was the only team to defeat last year's national champions.  LSU finished with a two touchdown or greater lead in all but one of their 13 regular season wins.  Alabama only had one loss last year; a 9-6 home loss to LSU.  Alabama beat all opponents, except LSU, by 18 points or more and they beat LSU 21-0 in the BCS national championship.

By what objective standard did the experts at ESPN determine that USC is preseason #1?  While preseason rankings are meaningless, no good LSU fan will forget the split 2003 national championship.  Even though LSU beat Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship game, the national championship title was shared that year with USC.  That could happen again this year.  I hope LSU and USC have the opportunity to face off at the end of the season this year.


Anonymous said...

Spot on commentary. Nice to see your blogging again.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they meant the USC in the SEC.

Tony said...

Informative post. All the details I need. Thanks for sharing.

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