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November 24, 2003

Sooners, Trojans, Tigers fighting for No. 1

After dominating the rankings since the beginning of the football season it was only natural that Bob Stoops' Oklahoma Sooners would soon take over the top spot in the Rivals.com national team rankings. That's exactly what the Sooners did today when they leapfrogged rival Texas to the top spot.

But now the question is: Can the Sooners stick or will fast rising USC or LSU be able to catch them?

That's a good question because all three teams have some great players on the board still and it's never too late to also count out recruiting Czar Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns.

But since the Sooners are on top now, let's take a look at where the Sooners stand at this point.

Oklahoma sits with 15 commitments, including pledges from three five-star players, five four star players and five three star players. Those, plus other bonus points awarded for a player's numerical ranking and other factors give Oklahoma a total of 1,566 points.

That's a 77-point lead over Texas, 283-point lead over USC and a 302-point lead over LSU. But as we all know with the month of December coming up there is plenty of big news to happen.

The Sooners remain in very good shape to land the nation's No. 1 player, Adrian Peterson of Palestine, Texas. OU's main competition for that battle looks to be USC, Miami and Arkansas.

Oklahoma could take huge step toward securing that spot at No. 1 with big results out of the December 12 official visit weekend. If you've not looked at the Sooners list yet for that weekend, take a peek. It's definitely very impressive with four-star targets Brandon Braxton, Peyton Hillis, Roland Martin, Zach Miller, Jeff Schweiger and Marcus Walker set to visit.

OU is also going to get visits from Peterson and Keith Rivers, who are five-star picks.

What's interesting about that group is that USC and OU are battling head to head for Peterson, Schweiger and Rivers.

At this point, most believe that Schweiger and Rivers will end up at SC and Peterson will end up being a Sooner.

Texas is hoping to also have a big weekend on December 12.

That's their annual banquet weekend, in which the Horns always seem to snag a huge commitment or two out of. The most likely candidates are teammates Jeremy Campbell and Franklin Okam out of Richardson (Texas) Lake Highlands

Okam is ranked as a five-star prospect and the No. 2 defensive tackle in the nation. If UT lands him, it could give them a nice push up the board, but with 18 commits already in the bag, it might be hard for them to stay ahead of LSU and USC when the finish with their late flurry.

Nobody in the nation has been more impressive the last two months when it comes to recruiting than USC.

Pac 10 coaches are looking at Pete Carroll's class and just shaking their head in awe. The Trojans have 10 - yes only 10 commitments - to this point and they're sitting at No. 3 in the nation team rankings.

If the Trojans add athlete/receiver Dwayne Jarrett from New Jersey like they could this week, that would give them even more of an impressive early start.

At this point, USC has pledges from three-five star players, which ties the Sooners. They also have four four-star pledges, three-three star pledges and commitments from the No. 1 offensive lineman, Jeff Byers, and the nation's No. 2 tight end, Dale Thompson.

Throw in Sekeli Faaeteete, Jimmy Miller and five-star junior college stars Scott Ware and Ryan Powdrell, and it looks like the Trojans are going to be here to stay on the national scene.

December 12 will also be a big weekend for USC. That's when they're playing host to five-star defensive backs Tony Carter and Ted Ginn for official visits. Both are likely heading elsewhere, but you can never tell with the way that USC is recruiting the last two months.

Lurking right behind LSU and ready to snap up another monster class and potentially a repeat Rivals.com recruiting ranking championship is Nick Saban's LSU Tigers.

If USC's run has been the most impressive the last few months, then LSU would be right behind them.

The Tigers already had a great class going when they were able to pull off a four major surprises within a week of each other.

The first domino fell when Galena Park four-star defensive end Trumaine Johnson committed to LSU over what many thought were the long-time favorites Texas A&M. Then came another whammy to the Aggies when long-time commitment Ryan Miller switched his pledge from A&M to LSU.

It got even better when a pair of Arkansas players left the state and committed to the Tigers. Four-star linebacker Matt Stoltz has a shot at being special in Saban's defense, and offensive guard Brett Helms should be a star in the SEC.

LSU still has enough huge players on its board that things could get interesting at the top if things go the Tigers' way. The must get for LSU is receiver Early Doucet, who is a five-star player and ranked in the top five in the entire nation.

Along with Doucet, if the Tigers land Marlon Favorite, Tony Bell and another talented offensive lineman, it might be tough to keep this class out of the top spot.

So the battle lines have been drawn and recruiting is coming down the home stretch. Who will come out at No. 1 in the national team rankings? Stay tuned to Rivals100.com for the answer to that and many other questions leading up to signing day in February.


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