#5 Ohio State at #1 University of Southern California

#5 Ohio State at #1 University of Southern California
USC Helmet

#5 Ohio State at #1 University of Southern California

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California

Kickoff: 8pm

TV: ABC

The most highly anticipated game of the 2008 season to date is about to take place.  This clash of the titans will claim the attention of the entire nation as all eyes tune in to see the battle of a proven juggernaut and a perceived pretender.  Judgment will be handed down to Ohio State as they attempt to quell the criticism or live up to the weak and soft reputation they have garnered over the past few years.  USC is the real deal and have earned every accolade bestowed upon them this season.  Ohio State will be under the microscope Saturday and the reputation of the school and the conference is on the line.

By Pete Quint

OSU “O”

Will Beanie play?  Tressel expects him to but how much?  Beanie said he wants to carry the ball 45 times but Tressel is more conservative saying that likely Beanie won’t run the ball THAT much.  The reality of the situation is this; if Beanie is healthy the Buckeyes have a chance, if Beanie is sidelined the Buckeyes have no chance.  USC has one if not THE best secondary in college football and without a real threat at tailback Ohio State will have an almost impossible task of beating the Trojans through the air.  Last week, OSU receivers didn’t or couldn’t get open against the Bobcats and if you can’t get open against OU you certainly won’t get open against a lights out USC secondary.

Another concern for the Buckeyes is the offensive line.  This was supposed to be one of the best units in the country and they seem to just lean on opponents.  The explosion at the line of scrimmage is missing along with some of the nastiness that comes with the position and if the Bucks can’t find that energy and fire they won’t stand a chance against the fast and powerful USC defensive line.  Remember Florida and LSU?  They’re that kind of fast.

OSU “D”

USC completely destroyed Virginia two weeks ago and the offense was frighteningly efficient.  First year starter quarterback Mark Sanchez threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns and USC only punted twice the whole game.  All but one receiver had double digit receiving yards and the top four rushers combined for 204 yards and three touchdowns.  This team and coaching staff has played in so many big games in the past decade that the hype and pressure surrounding this one is to them but a whisper in the wind.

Here’s what’s going to happen.  USC is going to come out of the tunnel on an adrenalin high that would make the Grateful Dead jealous.  If the Buckeye defense can weather the storm of an early offensive barrage they could have a shot.  If the Trojans are successful and get an early 10 to 14 point lead, the Buckeyes, players and coaches alike, will emotionally collapse, start making stupid penalties and roll over dead.  The Buckeyes need to dig deep for this one if they want to save themselves from embarrassing loss.    

Summary

USC has four new offensive linemen, a new quarterback and running back by committee which should work in favor of the Buckeyes but with the recent weak scheduling and bad losses to national powers one must wonder if the Buckeyes have the toughness to win a big game out of conference.  The logical part of my brain says no way the Bucks even compete with the Trojans.  The Buckeye part of my brain is hoping that the team is listening to every word of every blogger, writer and media talking head as they collectively pile on the impossibility of an OSU victory.  If they take all that negativity and turn it into motivation they will have a really good chance.

Prediction:

USC 34 – OSU 13

Why OSU will win:

If they find their fire and listen to their hearts they will compete.  If, in addition, the coaches get creative they will have a real chance.  If, on top of all that, Beanie Wells is healthy, the Buckeyes can pull the upset.  Finally, hold on to the ball.  Turnovers at this level will spell doom for either team and whoever wins the turnover margin will have the upper hand in the end.  The Buckeyes need to find a mental and physical toughness they have not known since the 2006 Texas game to put them on top.

Why OSU will lose:

I question this team’s toughness; players and coaches.  They have had an easy time with the incredibly weak schedule the last two years and I don’t think they know how to play in a big, out of conference game.  I hope I’m wrong but this game could get ugly, fast.

Stat of the game:

USC holds a slight lead in the series 9-11-1 and have won the last five contests.

USC is 7-0 versus Big Ten schools since 1996 (Penn State 24-7).

Last time they met was…

…1990 in the ‘Shoe.  The game was cut short in the fourth quarter due to lightening.  35-26 Trojans.

USC players to watch:

Junior QB #6 Mark Sanchez

Sophomore RB #4 Joe McKnight

Sophomore RB #2 CJ Gable

Sophomore WR #18 Damian Williams

Senior LB #58 Rey Maulaluga

Senior LB #10 Brian Cushing

Senior DT #75 Fili Moala

BrutusReport.com
Tags: Buckeyes Football Ohio State
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