She broke into a big smile when she saw the time, racing the clock more than she was anyone in the water. Japan’s Satomi Suzuki took silver, more than a second behind at 2:20.72, while Russia’s Yulia Efimova claimed bronze in 2:20.92. “I’m so happy,” Soni said. “I can’t believe I did it.” When Soni touched the wall, she leaped out of the water with joy, her fist in the air not once, but twice.
3. Beating Oregon at least once, possibly twice. The Trojans face their North Division counterparts at the Coliseum on Nov. 3. Win or lose, they’re likely to play them again in the Pac-12 Championship Game. A loss in the latter would knock USC out of BCS title-game contention.
The two teams that are ranked above the Trojans were at the National Championship just last season. Alabama has won two of the last three, while LSU has been to two in the last five years, winning one in 2007. Of course those teams are not looking to settle, but USC has been banned from the postseason the last two years. They haven’t reached a BCS bowl since 2008.
You have to go all the way back to 1984 (Auburn) and then to 1973 (USC) to find other preseason No. 1 teams that also had to replace a starter at quarterback. That’s four teams in 40 seasons, with not one of them living up to the lofty ranking that the pollsters gave them. LSU certainly has a chance to break that pattern. It’s a valid argument so say that any quarterback replacing Jordan Jefferson or Jarrett Lee constitutes an upgrade. New starter Zach Mettenberger attempted only 11 passes last season, but he clearly has the talent to be a successful college quarterback. The big question is whether LSU’s current offensive system is capable of incubating a legitimate passing threat to keep defenses honest, thus allowing a loaded running backs group to rumble unabated.