The No. 2-ranked USC Trojans and Syracuse Orange enter Saturday afternoon's matchup at MetLife Stadium experiencing very different emotions.
While BCS hopeful USC is coming off a 39-point win over Hawaii at home last weekend, Syracuse is just one week removed from a stinging defeat at home to Northwestern.
Despite trailing 35-13 late in the third quarter, the Orange rallied, scoring four unanswered touchdowns to take the lead, 41-35, with less than three minutes to play. Northwestern won the game by a point after scoring a touchdown with just 44 seconds remaining.
Now, the heartbroken Orange must attempt the impossible in East Rutherford, New Jersey: Beat the No. 2 team in the country just days after coming within seconds of pulling off a 22-point comeback.
For that reason, this is an easy game to pick.
Syracuse will be game early on, but by the second half, Matt Barkley and the Trojans' aerial attack will have taken their toll on the Orange's confidence and desire to compete.
The result will be a USC blowout victory that sends the Trojans to 2-0 and the Orange to 0-2.
Barkley threw for 372 yards and four touchdowns against Hawaii in Week 1, while top wide receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods combined for 16 receptions, 239 yards and three touchdowns (Lee returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown as well).
Never mind that Ryan Nassib threw for 470 yards and four touchdowns last Saturday inside the Carrier Dome. All of Nassib's touchdowns came in the last third of the game and his nation-leading pass production was the result of a massive Northwestern lead.
Making matters worse for Syracuse, its defense was nowhere to be found in the season opener, giving up a touchdown in each quarter and six of them by the time it was all said and done.
Of course, Saturday's result won't be nearly as bad as it will have been if Syracuse had to travel to the West Coast to take on USC in Los Angeles.
Orange fans should consider that a little victory this weekend. At least the ride home back to Syracuse will be a short one.
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