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How to beat USC, OU

Football Outsiders' Brian Fremeau took a swing at nitpicking the flaws among the five teams ranked atop Mark Schlabach's way-too-early top 25 poll.

Two of those teams, USC and Oklahoma, host Notre Dame this season. Here's some of what the Irish -- or any Trojan or Sooner opponent, for that matter -- should try to do, according to Fremeau:

In L.A.:

Generating consistency and dominance on defense needs to be the point of emphasis this spring. The Trojans forced three-and-outs on only 32 percent of opponent drives last year, the 70th-best rate in the nation. All 10 BCS bowl team defenses last season were better at getting opponent offenses off the field more quickly. (The other four teams in this article were much better at forcing three-and-outs, each ranked in the top 12 in this metric last season). Those extended drives were a major liability in USC's losses to Stanford and Arizona State last year -- the Trojans gave up 92 offensive points on only 26 non-garbage opponent drives.

And in Norman:

The offense was productive last year, but there's still plenty of room to improve in efficiency. The Sooners' 39 points per game ranked 10th nationally, but only 18th in points per drive and 84th on points per explosive drive (possessions that average at least 10 yards per play). Big plays were a problem on defense, as well. Oklahoma's overall defensive efficiency was strong (sixth best at forcing three-and-outs), but the Sooners gave up explosive drives on 13 percent of opponent possessions. The departures of Big 12 playmakers at Oklahoma State and Baylor will be helpful, but Oklahoma will need to limit explosive plays to truly be a contender.