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NCAA Football

Who’s #1? LSU, Alabama or Oklahoma?

If there is ever any more reason to either love or loathe the BCS Championship series, the continuing dominance of the LSU Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners and the Alabama Crimson Tide has given college football fans a serious debate in determining which team is the top team in the country.

With the third-ranked Sooners resounding 55-13 victory over the over-matched #12-ranked Longhorns, the top-ranked Tigers 41-11 win over the #17 ranked Florida Gators and the Tide’s 34-0 shutout of Vanderbilt, the hotly-constested question will continue to rage on until the first BCS computer rankings are released.

The AP poll has the (6-0) LSU Tigers ranked number one with 1,473 points and 40 first-place votes, the (6-0) Alabama Crimson Tide is ranked second with 1,435 points and 12 first-place votes and the (5-0) Oklahoma Sooners are ranked third with 1,397 points and 1,397 points.

In the USA Today Coaches Poll, Oklahoma is ranked number one with 1,421 points and 27 first-place votes, LSU is ranked second with 1,410 points and 21 first-place votes and Alabama is third with 1,408 points and no first-place votes.

In the case of Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma, each team has a dominant defense capable of suffocating opponents, and elite NFL prospects in Dont’a Hightower, Landry Jones, Ryan Broyles, Tyrann Mathieu and Trent Richardson, each team has one thing that truly separates on from each other.

Each team has it own unique merits as they have all recorded impressive victories over ranked opponents, LSU has defeated four ranked opponents in #3 Oregon, #25 Mississippi State, #16 West Virginia and #17 Florida.

Alabama has defeated three ranked teams, #23 Penn State, #14 Arkansas and #12 Florida, and Oklahoma has defeated two ranked teams, #5 Florida State and #11 Texas

The Crimson Tide has a real Heisman Trophy candidate in Trent Richardson, the 5’11 226-pound running back accumulated 878 total yards from scrimmage—729 yards rushing and 149 yards receiving—Richardson also has 12 touchdowns—11 rushing and one receiving.

When you combine Richardson’s dual-threat capability with Alabama’s stout defense led by linebacker Dont’a Hightower which is first in the nation, as they only allow an average of 8.6 points a game and already has two shutouts, you can see why The Tide have a legitimate claim to be #1 right?

If Alabama has one advantage over LSU is the fact their Nov 5 showdown is in Tuscaloosa and that their schedule sets up nicely as they do not face another ranked team before they face in-state rival, 15th-ranked Auburn on the road.

For LSU, they may not have a elite game-breaker like Alabama has with Richardson or Oklahoma has with quarterback Landry Jones, the Bayou Bengals do have a quarterback in Jarrett Lee who maybe severely underrated.

Lee, who is the subject of a quarterback controversy with Jordan Jefferson has led the Tigers to the #1 ranking in the AP poll by throwing for 793 yards and seven touchdowns and a 140.5 QB rating.

While Lee’s numbers may pale in comparison to Oklahoma’s Jones, the 6’2 206-pound Lee has also led the Tigers to impressive road wins over ranked opponents #16 West Virginia and #25 Mississippi State.

Clearly, LSU has no fear of playing on the road as they have shown that they are quite comfortable after playing in hostile road environments in Morgantown and Starkville, their Nov 5 game at Alabama should be a walk in the park for them.

What makes the Tigers so dangerous is their fast and fierce defense—led by defensive end Sam Montgomery and cornerback Tyrann Mathieu help LSU allow a meager 12.5 points per game—ninth best in the country.

For the Sooners, they may have the most complete team in terms of offense and defense among the three. Oakland has a Heisman Trophy contender in Jones and a real game-break at wideout in Ryan Broyles and a dual-threat running back in Dominique Whaley.

While Oklahoma may not have the stout defense of Alabama or the speed of LSU, Oklahoma has a underrated—and much maligned—defensive line featuring Frank Alexander, Ronnell Lewis, David King and R.J. Washington that would sack Longhorns QB’s Dave Ash and Case McCoy eight times at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday.

The explosive Sooners offense might be the difference-maker between Oklahoma, LSU and Alabama as they rank ninth in points per game at 45.0 and fifth in passing yards as the Sooners average 377.8 yards a game.

Jones has thrown for 1,447 yards and ten touchdowns under center for the Sooners, Broyles, Jones go-to receiver has 476 yards receiving and six touchdowns and Whaley has rushed for 379 yards and seven touchdowns.

So what makes this Sooners team stand out from LSU and Alabama?

The Sooners offense has better playmakers at the skill positions and the ability to score points against any team. With Jones under center for the Sooners, he gives Oklahoma a clear advantage at quarterback over Alabama’s A.J. McCarron and LSU’s Lee.

The late part of the schedule for Oklahoma puts them at a disadvantage as they must face two of three ranked teams on the road at #20 Kansas State, #24 Texas A&M at home and the dangerous Heisman Trophy contender in quarterback Robert Griffin III and the #25-ranked Baylor Bears in front of a fired-up crowd in Waco.

While the Sooners defense is not as heralded as both SEC powerhouses are, it may be just good enough for the Sooners to meet the winner of the LSU-Alabama showdown in New Orleans for the BCS Championship Game.

Follow me on Twitter, @RobertCobb_NFL