Does USC Deserve a No. 1 Ranking?

Does USC Deserve a No. 1 Ranking?

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The first AP poll of the 2012 college football season is out and, as was expected, LSU is NOT on top of the heap. Instead, Southern California is ranked No. 1 followed by Alabama and LSU in this important preseason poll. In another early poll, LSU was ranked first by USA Today, but that was before the Tigers’ start cornerback, Tyrann Mathieu, was removed from the team and entered a drug rehabilitation program.

Is USC worthy of its early top ranking? That’s debatable, but then no games have been played yet and the only polls that really mean anything are those in the final weeks of the season when the top teams are picked to square off in the BCS national championship game this January.

Top 15 Alike

Notably, both polls offered up the same results in positions 4 through 15 with Oklahoma followed by Georgia, and then Florida State, Michigan, South Florida, Arkansas, West Viriginia, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Clemson and Texas rounding out the Top 15.

The AP rounds out the last 10 spots with Virginia Tech at No. 16 followed by Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Stanford, Kansas State, Florida, Boise State and Louisville. The same 25 teams were named in both polls except for the last spot where USA Today had Auburn, not Louisville.

USC Trojans

Placing the Trojans on top of AP poll comes just two years after being slammed with sanctions. Those sanctions kept the USC out of bowl games for the past two years and cost the school scholarships. USC had to vacate 14 wins including its 2004 national championship. Still, though stripped of 30 football scholarships over three years, the current contingent of Trojans makes for one of the most potent teams on the gridiron this season.

Dennis Dodd, writing for CBS Sports noted that USC’s ascendancy may largely be due to having been hit by sanctions stating, “Probation has been a good look for USC.” Just 26 months earlier USC was hit with a mini version of the NCAA’s death penalty, its star coach was gone and one of its best players, Reggie Bush, was embroiled in a scandal for receiving gifts in violation of NCAA policies. Today, USC’s program has been “scrubbed clean” and two of its home football games — against Oregon and Notre Dame — are sold out. A limited number of tickets are still available for other games, contests against Hawaii, Cal, Colorado and Arizona State.

SEC Leaders

The Southeast Conference expands to 14 teams this year, welcoming the Missouri Tigers and the Texas A&M Aggies to a league that has won the last six national championship games. Besides Alabama and LSU, the SEC has Georgia, South Carolina and Arkansas in the Top 10, with Florida and Auburn also ranked. Clearly, the odds are quite good that at least one SEC team will play for the BCS championship with USC, Oklahoma, Oregon and Michigan each hoping for a shot at that game.

Resources

Sports Illustrated: Report: Dismissed LSU star Mathieu in drug rehab, won’t play this fall

ESPN: College Football Rankings

Los Angeles Times: USC is No. 1 in first Associated Press college football poll

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