#7 Ohio State v #3 USC
Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
“Appalachian State…Appalachian State… Appalachian State…” was all that was going through my head as the Midshipmen lined up for the two point conversion. Thankfully, Brian Rolle came up with a timely interception to secure the win for the Buckeyes. Now the Bucks entertain superpower USC in the ‘Shoe for what hopes to be a classic showdown. USC was able to break in their true freshman quarterback in their commanding season debut win over San Jose State and looks poised to make a run at the national championship. On the other hand, the Buckeyes showed glaring weaknesses specifically on the offensive line, defensive line and secondary. The Trojans are the real deal and a victory for the Bucks would go along way in healing the national reputation of Ohio State and the Big Ten.
Head coach Jim Tressel did exactly what he should have against Navy; give Terrell Pryor a bunch of quality snaps and play calls. The gameplan was a refreshing as Tressel called a lot of pass plays that meant something and prepared Pryor for the season. Everyone, including the tight ends, saw good playing time. However, poor discipline caused several drive stalling penalties and the offensive line disappointed everyone by looking reactive, passive and squishy. USC has a fast, mean and deep defense and their aggressive style of attack will get them through the soft Buckeye offensive line if things don’t change between now and Saturday. If things don’t change with the attitude and execution of the offensive line, Pryor will be running for his life all day and the running backs will get stoned at the line of scrimmage. The Buckeye offense must be able to stay on the field, sustain long drives and keep the ball away from the high powered USC offense while minimizing mistakes and turnovers if they have any hope of winning this game.
To my surprise, the OSU secondary really let everybody down. Even if they were looking hard at the run, Marcus Curry should never have burned them for an 85 yard touchdown reception. How slow do you think the secondary is going to look when going up against a receiving corps with real speed and talent? Saturday will be true freshman quarterback Matt Barkley’s second start and he looks to be the next Trojan great. Not only is Barkley a talented passer he also has the luxury of handing off the ball to three running backs that are NFL ready. The running back stable is lead by Joe McKnight who ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday while the top three USC rushers averaged over 10 yards per carry. Along with the top notch running game, the OSU defense must also contend with a flock of tall and fast wide receivers. Wide receiver Damian Williams can stretch the field and will make the slow Buckeye secondary look even slower. The OSU defense is better equipped to handle an offense like USC but Navy pretty much had their way with the Buckeyes and it’s frightening to think of what a bigger and stronger Trojan team will be able to do.
USC has the luxury of having no pressure coming into this game. They have nothing to prove to the media, the country or themselves. Ohio State and Jim Tressel have the weight of the conference on its shoulders while enduring a tight scrutiny from the media and public opinion. If the Buckeyes can win on Saturday, some of that weight will be lifted but not all. OSU has dug itself a deep hole and if they hope to ever climb out of it they need to start winning these types of games. If the Buckeyes come out flat, it will be a long, horrible night for the OSU faithful.
USC 35 – OSU 13
Why OSU will win:
-The offensive line gets mean and aggressive and starts blowing the USC defense up.
-The secondary finds its speed.
-The defensive line and linebackers are able to contain the run and get lots of pressure on the freshman quarterback.
Why OSU will lose:
-USC will not respect the Buckeye running game and sit back in a soft flexible coverage watching and waiting to see what Pryor will do.
Bold prediction for the game:
If you’re a gambler put money on USC to cover the spread. The Trojans will win by no less than three touchdowns.
Crazy stat of the game:
-The last time Ohio State beat an opponent ranked above them in the polls was the 2002 National Championship game against the University of Miami (FL) at the Fiesta Bowl.
-Pete Carroll is 6-0 versus the Big Ten.
Last time they met…
9/13/2008; The Buckeyes sent the junior varsity squad out to Los Angeles and got thumped 35-3 in one of the least competitive games Ohio State has ever played in. The final score should have been 77-3 or worse as the Buckeyes embarrassed themselves, the Big Ten conference, their alumni and their fans.
Trojan players to watch:
Freshman QB # 7 Matt Barkley
Junior RB #4 Joe McKnight
Senior S #2 Taylor Mays
Junior WR #18 Damian Williams
Sophomore LB #54 Chris Galippo
Senior TE #86 Anthony McCoy