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College Football Over/Under: USC

flickr.com/echobase 2000

flickr.com/echobase 2000

11.5 wins.

As it always is at USC, going anything less than 12-0 in the regular season remains a disappointment.  Will this be the year that USC runs the table once again?

Well, if they don’t, you can expect the seemingly annual blemish to come from the group of games below:

  • Sept. 12 at Ohio State (Columbus, OH)
  • Oct. 3 at Cal (Berkley, CA)
  • Oct. 17 at Notre Dame (South Bend, IN)
  • Oct. 31 at Oregon (Eugene, OR)

Whereas the home schedule is remarkably soft (the Trojans have lost one game at the L.A. Coliseum since 2003), the road schedule is filled with potential pitfalls.  Conventional wisdom suggest that those kind of hostile road games are the ones where freshman quarterback Matt Barkley could have a meltdown that costs USC it’s season.

But being the USC quarterback has it’s perks: even on a bad day, there are plenty of players on your team who will pick you up, and specifically on the defense.  For Pete Carroll, neither John David Booty nor Mark Sanchez could pitch a perfect season on three absolutely dominant Trojan teams, so what exactly is the worst case scenario here?  That you lose a game?!

In past seasons, the schedule might have contributed to non-perfect seasons because of the long stretches without quality opponents: you have to beat all of them, but it’s hard if not impossible to maintain the same level of play week to week.  It’s not like you can control the kind of effort you get from your opponents on a weekly basis, so if a team’s performance is naturally fluctuating week to week, it’s probable that even the most dominant of teams will get caught in close match-ups from time to time.

If the quarterback breakdowns have bitten USC in the past, what’s to say it won’t happen to Barkley this year?  Nothing.  But it’s the games that there’s little doubt that USC will get up for that seem like they are the only pitfalls this year.  And so?  If the quarterback has a 3 INT day against a random opponent on USC’s schedule, there’s a pretty darn good chance that USC overcomes and wins anyway.  And that why this team has the makings of an undefeated national championship team.

To be completely honest, out of all the above “pitfalls”, the only opponent that can beat USC on top of it’s game this year is Notre Dame, but they haven’t beaten the Trojans since 2001, and they’ll be a double digit point underdog when the team’s play…in South Bend.  Simply put, USC could lose a regular season game again this year, but there’s no reason to think they will.

Not with this defense, and this crop of running backs.  They’re just too good.  Over.

  1. troykgilbert
    September 6, 2009 at 6:20 am

    I don’t know that Notre Dame is the team that can beat USC at its best. Maybe they could have when Brady Quinn was under center, but I’m not convinced that this year’s team can knock off USC.

    Of those four games you listed, the Cal game is probably the greatest obstacle standing between USC and a perfect regular season. Ohio State and Notre Dame will obviously generate more hype, but Cal looks like the strongest team of the three.

    After everything that took place in the Oregon vs. Boise State game on Thursday, I don’t think the Oregon game deserves as much attention as the other three games. Oregon will not recover from Blount’s suspension. They certainly won’t be anywhere near the Top 25 when USC visits.

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