Sure it’s early in the season and we haven’t learned too much about any team frankly but saying all that you’ve always got to follow one simple rule…. always respect the SEC. This is the conference that has produced a finalist in the BCS National Championship Game every year since 2005, a conference that almost everyone wants to join (the Missouri Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies were the lucky ones), a conference that sent double the amount of defensive linemen to the NFL Draft than any other conference over the past five seasons. I don’t give a crap about bowl records, I care about national championships and that’s what the SEC has brought us. For that reason alone the Oregon Ducks should in no way be above the LSU Tigers in AP rankings.
You say it doesn’t matter? It certainly does. Let’s say for argument sake that Oregon runs the table until their game against the USC Trojans on November 3rd and LSU runs the table until their game the same day versus the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Ducks will almost certainly still be ahead of the Tigers in the AP poll, thanks to their total number of “voting points”, despite the fact LSU will have a much tougher road to haul. Oregon’s toughest test over the next 4 games is probably at the Arizona State Sun Devils, a team that lost their stud quarterback (Brock Osweiler) and best defensive player (linebacker Vontaze Burfict) in the offseason. LSU meanwhile has to go on the road to take on a rising Florida Gators team and battle the South Carolina Gamecocks at home. The difference is stark.
Sure both didn’t take on much of anyone in their early slate but even there LSU has a significant advantage. They went on the road at got a win. Leaving Jordan-Hare stadium with a “w”, especially at night, is never an easy thing to do regardless of the Auburn Tigers team you face. This year’s squad is clearly not the peak of what we’ve seen from them in recent years but it still boasts a strong defense on paper. Defensive end Corey Lemonier, corner T’Sharvan Bell and safety Demetruce McNeal could play on any defense in the county. Numbers wise they aren’t obviously where they want to be but that has more to do with them adjusting to new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder‘s system and the lack of any production from the quarterback position which is keeping them on the field for the majority of the game. The talent is there.
Oregon destroyed an overrated Arizona Wildcats team which is at least year away from truly competing among the top levels of the Pac 12. The Arkansas State Red Wolves and Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles? Mighty! At least LSU took on a middle of the road Pac 12 squad in the Washington Huskies during just the second week of competition, right after stud left tackle Chris Faulk went down to a season ending injury.
While LSU doesn’t have the Tyrann Mathieu, aka the “honey badger”, anymore and Oregon’s defense has improved, LSU still dominates that side of the ball. Their defensive line is better, their secondary is better even if Oregon safety John Boyett didn’t go down with injury and their overall depth is better. Perhaps the only area Oregon bests LSU at on defense is at the linebacker position. The Ducks returned seniors Michael Clay and Kiko Alonzo while LSU key starters from last year’s team in Stefoin Francois and Ryan Baker.
Offensively, LSU has probably their best quarterback since JaMarcus Russell ate his way through campus. Junior Zach Mettenberger is a legit 1st round NFL prospect who can actually throw a consistant deep ball. Hopefully Les Miles will actually let him attack inside of staying super conservative. That’s where I give Ducks coach Chip Kelly credit. He isn’t afraid to throw guys into the fire and his freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota is rewarding him. That type of confidence that can be gained early on can pay serious dividends down the road.
I think voters want change, they don’t want another rematch like we saw last year but you can’t just force the narrative. Oregon’s toughest games are on the road at USC and at the Oregon State Beavers in what’s known as the state’s “Civil War”. LSU gets to play in Death Valley where nearly no opponent even thinks they have a chance to win (384-143 all time at Tiger Stadium). Unless the unexpected happens and LSU loses 2 games there is no way you reward a potential 1 loss Oregon team over a 1 loss LSU team. Being bitter and angry at a conference and region for dominating in recent years isn’t enough. Let’s hope emotion gives way to reason because the playoff kicks in 2 years from now it really matters.