Alabama doesn't have much team speed, its passing attack is only so-so, and there is not one bona fide superstar dressed in the crimson and white this season.

So much for Alabama's problems.

What the Crimson Tide does have is size, strength a relentless wishbone running attack and experienced people who know what to do and how to do it. They may be lacking that one genuine superstar who is capable of winning the Heisman Trophy, but they do have a host of richly talented athletes at every position.

Alabams has masked its weakness and exploited its strengths so well that it is the No. 1-ranked team in college football going into the fourth weekend of the season. This is not surprising since most experts picked Alabama to be the next national champion before the season started.

Alabama will have every chance to show just how good it is, because it has a murderous schedule, and today's contest against nationally ranked Southern California could be the key game on it.

The game to be played before a sellout crowd of more than 77,000 at Legion Field (WJLA-TV 7, 4 p.m.) is expected to be a thrilling rematch of last year's 21-20 Alabama victory in Los Angeles.

USC was ranked first and had won 15 straight games before Alabama came to town. Now the Crimson TIde has the top ranking and the longest winning streak in the country, 12 games.

For the record, Alabama Coach Bear Bryant says he'll be satisfied, "win, lose or draw as long as we play as well as we can."

What he isn't saying is that if his team does play as well as it can, USC doesn't stand much of a chance, a sentiment echoed by Trojan Coach John Robinson.

"Our team is very young and still developing and I'm not sure if we are in the same class with Alabama," said Robinson. "They have one of the best teams college football has seen in the last five years. They should be ranked No. 1. They are deep, experienced and have everything you could want."

"This is the year we know we can win it all," said Alabama quarterback Jeff Rutledge. ""We're more serious this year. We don't cut up and goof off like we used to. We have that look in our eyes. We see it and other people see it. We want that national championship and it's there for us to take.

"I know everything expects us to be great, but that's fine," Rutledge added. "That doesn't put any extra pressure on us. You have to win all your games to be No. 1 anyway. We expect to win them all, so why should it make us nervous that other people expect to do it too?

Defense is the strength of this year's Alabama team, with its top six tacklers returning from a team that was 11-1 and ranked second in the nation.

Linebackers Berry Krauss, Rich Wingo and Rickey Gilliland back a strong defensive line led by tackles Marty Lyons and David Hannah and ends Wayne Hamilton and E.J. Junior.

In its opener, Alabama devastated Nebraska, 20-3 to avenge its only loss of last season.

"I thought we would score at least one touchdown," stunned Nebraska Coach Tom Osborne said.

The offense is led by Rutledge, half-back Tony Nathan and Major Ogilvie and fullback Billy Jackson.

Alabama is one of the few teams that runs out of the wishbone formation and they, along with Oklahoma, have had more success with it than any other team.

Since switching to the wishbone in 1971, Alabama has averaged 308 yards a game rushing and won 76 of 86 games.

In two games this season, Rutledge has run for 53 yards on 28 carriers and Nathan 167 yards on 27 carriers. Rutledge has also completed 10 of 25 passes for 124 yards and three touchdowns.

Until Missouri picked off two of his passes in a 38-20 Alabama victory last Saturday. Rutledge had gone 12 straight games and 100 passes without an interception.

"I felt like Pete Rose when my streak came to an end," Rutledge said. "But when you throw the ball you are going to get intercepted. That's probably one reason we don't know that much.

"In the wishbone there's the chance that you'll fumble. But it's been a successful offense for us. We're winning with it, so why change? It's tough to stop for any defense because we have vethose three options on every play," the quarterback said.

In addition to its soundness offensively and defensively, Alabama has one e of the most effective kicking games in the country. Woody Humphrey has punted 12 times for a 43.8 average. Only one has been returned and that was for minus one yard.

In addition to its tough SEC schedule, Alabama still has a game with nationally ranked Washington in Seattle in two weeks.

"When I made the schedule," said Bryant, "I probably didn't think I'd still be here."

The seventh-ranked Trojans struggled to a 19-9 victory over Texas Tech in the opener and then bombed Oregon, 38-10, last week. Their offense is built around junior tailback Charles White.

At his present pace, White will becoming USC's all-time leading rusher before the end of this season.

White began the season with 2336 yards, ran for 156 against Texas Tech and 173 against Oregon.

"Year in and year out USC Probably has the best football players assembled at one place," Alabama assistant coach Mal Moore said. "They have speed and quickness and are a play-action, tailback-oriented team, with a great tailback to depend on."

Alabama is rated a six-to 11-point favorite.

A number of other games with national significance are scheduled for today, the biggest is Michigan at Notre Dame.

Michigan usually plays two tough games a year, Ohio State and whoever it meets in a bowl game. This season the Wolverines have a tough one early against the Irish.

Notre Dame probably cost [WORD ILLEGIBLE] chance at repeating as national champion by coming out flat and losing to Missouri, 3-0 in its opener two weeks ago.

Ohio State, whose new passing attack was grounded, 19-0, by Penn State in its opener last week, will try to get going again at Minnesota, while the Nittany host Southern Methodist.