USC Trojans vs. Boston College Eagles Complete Game Preview
USC hosts the Boston College Eagles in the second of a three-game homestand at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this week, and the Trojans are looking to bounce back from an embarrassing loss to the Washington State Cougars.
It's only the fourth ever installment of this West vs. East matchup, and it's only the second time ever that the Eagles have played in LA. The Trojans lead the series 3-0 and are looking to notch a fourth win in a game that marks the 90th anniversary of USC playing in the Coliseum.
The history between these two schools stems from Jeff Keith, a recipient of USC's Swim With Mike scholarship. Keith ran across the United States in 1984 on an artificial leg after losing his right leg to cancer. He played a large part in pitting his undergraduate alma mater, Boston College, with his graduate school one, USC, on the football field.
Before we get to the game itself, here's a look at game day specs:
KICKOFF: 12 Noon PT
PLACE: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
TV: Pac-12 Network
RADIO: 710 ESPN
Spread: USC (-14)
USC Keys to Victory
USC adding another W to the win column against BC begins with forgetting about what happened last week. If the Trojans go into this game scared or doubting themselves, they will falter once again.
Now that USC has a bona fide starter in Cody Kessler, expect head coach Lane Kiffin to have spent this week game planning around his strengths. With the confidence of his head coach, we can expect Kessler to perform in the way that earned him so much respect during fall camp.
Now that the quarterback situation is settled, USC needs to get to work making the offense run efficiently. We know the defense is going to show up and show out, but the best of the Trojans' offensive talent has yet to flourish.
We know that wide receiver Marqise Lee will likely be shrouded in coverage, but Darreus Rogers and Nelson Agholor are more than capable of picking up big plays themselves.
There's also tight ends Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble, two big targets that are still being underutilized.
The Trojan running game is holding its own with Tre Madden leading the effort, and another strong rushing attack will surely help the Trojans as they work out the remaining kinks in the passing game.
For USC to win, Kiffin needs to open up the playbook and let the Trojans be the Trojans.
Boston College Keys to Victory
Boston College is looking for its first win ever against USC, and it has the momentum as it enters the Coliseum. For them to devastate the Trojans in back to back weeks, they will have to contend with that USC defense, which will be no easy feat.
Clancy Pendergast and USC's new 5-2 scheme lead the country in sacks and rushing defense, and they top the charts in interceptions, tackles for loss, total defense, pass efficiency defense, scoring defense and turnover margin.
The Trojan defense has recorded 11 sacks in two games, and if they can rattle Chase Rettig, it's going to be a long night for BC. USC has also forced seven turnovers, has not allowed their opponents to score at all in the red zone, and has only conceded 30 rushing yards through two games.
If the Eagles are to win, they will have to find weaknesses in USC's defense to exploit. As it has been for the past few seasons, the Trojan secondary could serve as exactly that. It is a much improved unit from last season, but its youth makes it prime for mistakes.
Fortunately for BC, Retting is a Top 25 passer. He has wide receiver Alex Amidon to sling it to, which could spell disaster for USC. Amidon is a 2012 All-ACC first teamer, and he set the school season records for receptions and receiving yards last season. He currently is 10th nationally in receptions and 16th in
receiving yards. If this duo can pick apart the Trojan secondary, they could make this a game.
Players to Watch: USC
In the absence of of Silas Redd, Tre Madden has emerged as the leader of USC's ground game. He had 151 yards off 32 carries last week, with a long of 19. His powerful, take-no-prisoners running style makes him difficult to tackle, and he always fights for the extra yard. Look for him to power his way through Boston College's defense, and get USC's offense rolling.
Trojan Defensive Line
This entire unit has been playing lights out through two weeks of the season. As previously noted, it leads the nation in sacks (11), specializing in making opposing quarterbacks taste Coliseum dirt. Look for them to make BC's Chase Rettig extremely uncomfortable, hoping to force him into turning the ball over.
While the QB position was in flux, Marqise Lee was contained. Now that we know who will lead the offense, this week will be a good barometer of what we can expect from Lee this season and how well he will be used.
Players to Watch: Boston College
The ability of BC to succeed against USC begins and ends with Chase Rettig. He is a very accurate passer and we know he can sling the rock, but in two weeks, the Trojan defense has not allowed any quarterbacks to be successful against it.
He will have to adjust to the tempo at which the Trojan defense is playing and try to pick apart USC's secondary.
How well he can stay on his feet will be something to watch, as well as how he keeps his composure against that punishing defensive line. Rettig has passed for 408 yards and four touchdowns so far this season, but his ability to put up big numbers will really be put to the test this week.
What They Are Saying
"Unless Williams is hurt I don't think BC will be managing his carries this weekend. He ran the ball 35 times against Wake Forest last Friday, and honestly BC doesn't have much depth behind him. David Dudeck is not an every down back, Tahj Kimble is recovering from an injury and Addazio has been vague on what's going on with him, and Myles Willis appears to be redshirted unless they are dire. Ryan Day's offense is going to necessitate that Williams touch the ball frequently, and that is what I would expect on Saturday." - SB Nations's BC Hysteria in a Q&A with Conquest Chronicles
"Meanwhile, Boston College’s defense has matched its 2012 sack total (6) in two games and has generated seven turnovers already. The Eagles and Trojans have been equally opportunistic in the latter department, tying for third-most takeaways in the country. Boston College has bent but not broken, and has been so obviously more aggressive than in years past that it almost goes without saying." - Joe Mick, Soaring to Glory
“We made a decision to go with Cody, and we’re excited about how he’s going to play Saturday.” - Lane Kiffin, on naming Cody Kessler the starter
USC wins 31-14. Like the first two weeks, this game will be rough for the Trojans. With more stability on the offense, however, they should ultimately be successful.
Boston College will struggle in contending with USC's defense, and Kiffin will feel more comfortable opening up the playbook for Cody Kessler now that he has won the job.
Boston College will undoubtedly challenge the Trojans under the hot sun in the Coliseum, but USC will put last season's struggles behind it and move forward with the season the way they should, given the talent on this team.
When the final seconds tick off the clock, USC will be 4-0 against Boston College on the series.