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SHOCKING NEWS ... USC IS NO. 1

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. (Aug. 22, 2007) -- With both the AP poll and coaches poll now available, the BCS Guru has released his 2007 pre-season BCS rankings. And surprisingly, Southern California is ranked first!

All kidding aside, the Trojans are an overwhelming choice in the AP poll and just slightly less so in the coaches poll. Keep in mind the pre-season rankings are little more than the combination of the two human polls, one of which (AP) is not even in the BCS formula. The other human poll, Harris Interactive, won't be released until late September. Five of the six computer ratings will be made available after the first weekend of games; the sixth, Peter Wolfe, won't be unveiled until Oct. 14, the first week of the official BCS standings.

Still, a few observations may be gleamed off the pre-season polls:

1. USC is such an overwhelming choice as the pre-season No. 1 -- for the third time in four seasons -- that if the Trojans go undefeated, they will be a lock for New Orleans.

2. Ditto for Louisiana State.

3. The Big Ten and Big 12 champions, whoever they may be, will have a hard time getting into the national championship game if they fail to go undefeated. The pre-season strength of schedule ratings are quite a bit in favor of the SEC and the Pac-10 and down on the Big Ten and Big 12. The Big East is somewhere in the middle, and the ACC, after Virginia Tech loses to LSU in Baton Rouge, might as well pack up its tent for this year.

4. The Nov. 23 game between Hawaii and Boise State might be the biggest one in WAC history, as a possible BCS berth might be on the line. And both teams have a good shot to be undefeated going into that showdown in Honolulu. Unless ...

5. TCU pulls off the big upset in Austin on Sept. 8 and remains unbeaten through the regular season. In that case, then the Horned Frogs get the at-large bid into the BCS because their computer rankings and human poll rankings are bound to be ahead of the WAC champion.

Now, observations aside, the BCS Guru will make one fearless prediction: Only one team will go undefeated in the regular season, and that team will NOT be USC.

Only LSU will bring an undefeated record into the Louisiana Superdome for the championship game. The Tigers, despite a tough early-season non-conference game against Virginia Tech, have a very favorable schedule. They will play their two toughest SEC opponents -- Florida and Auburn -- at home. They will miss two top SEC teams this year -- Tennessee and Georgia. And they do not have any killer back-to-back weeks.

USC, on the other hand, has a brutal schedule with most of the beasts on the road. Nebraska looms as the second game of the season. Notre Dame, with a mediocre squad, will not mow its grass just so it can throw its entire season on the line against the Trojans. Oh, and between Oct. 20 and Nov. 22, USC will play four of its five games on the road, including stops at South Bend, Eugene, Berkeley and Tempe. Its lone home game in that stretch is against Oregon State, which ended USC's Pac-10 winning streak a year ago.

So there you have it. The Guru sees a clear No. 1 at the end of the regular season and a dogfight (uh, is that now considered to be in bad taste?) for the second spot, with the BCS computers expected to do the dirty work.

Should be an interesting season.

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