- Todd McShay, Scouts Inc.
There are 11 undefeated teams left in Division I-A. What will it take to win the remainder of the way? Todd McShay looks at the biggest X-factors facing each team.
No. 1 LSU Tigers
X-factor: WR Early Doucet (Sr.)
In order to run the table from here on out, the Tigers need more from their passing attack, which currently ranks 77th nationally. Doucet is LSU's most explosive playmaker when he's healthy. The problem is a groin injury has kept Doucet out of the past four games. Brandon LaFell has done a decent job of stepping in as the No. 1 receiver but he's not as polished and he has dropped some key passes in the past two outings. Doucet draws far more attention when he's on the field as LSU's Z-receiver and he proved early this season (with 15 catches in the first two games) that's he capable of separating from double-coverage. Subsequently, LaFell is much more dangerous working one-one-one versus opponents' No. 2 cornerbacks.
No. 2 Cal Bears
X-factor: DE Tyson Alualu (So.)
Cal's pass defense, which ranks 106th nationally, is the biggest obstacle standing between it and an undefeated season. The team obviously needs far better play out of CB's Syd'Quan Thompson and Brandon Hampton. However, one way to limit their exposure in coverage is to force opposing quarterbacks to get rid of the football quicker than they would like. Alualu got off to a fast start as a pass rusher this season with 2.5 sacks in the first three games, but he has cooled down since with zero sacks in the past two outings. The burden is on Alualu, DT Matt Malele and the rest of the Cal defensive line to keep the heat on opposing quarterbacks in order to protect its vulnerable secondary.