ESPN announced on Sunday that the College GameDay team will be setting up shop outside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum next Saturday when the USC Trojans host the No. 4 Stanford Cardinal, in what is now being dubbed as the game of the week. Fans are excited, the media is starting to pay attention to the Trojans again and expectations are rising.
But should they?
College GameDay has featured a USC game each of the past five seasons (including 2013). Furthermore, USC has had the pleasure of hosting GameDay each of the past four seasons (including 2013). Sanctions, Lane Kiffin and all, USC has consistently found a way to be involved in a marquee matchup.
That said, College GameDay has not been kind to the Trojans. Despite hosting and being featured in so many of these exciting events, the Trojans haven't won one since 2009, when USC executed a brilliant final drive to come back and beat the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Shoe, 18-15.
Back then, USC was a Top 10 team lead by Pete Carroll. Since then, the Trojans haven't been as fortunate.
Over the past three years, USC has been in the primetime matchup arguably because it has served as the team that could deliver an upset. Against Oregon, Stanford, Notre Dame and in this impending matchup again with Stanford, USC has been in a position to derail national title hopes.
Except, that didn't happen. The Trojans got punched in the mouth by the Ducks in 2010, suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Cardinal in 2011 and last season looked abysmal against the Fighting Irish without Matt Barkley.
|USC vs. Opponents on College GameDay|
|Year||Home Team||Away Team||Final Score||Winner|
|2012||USC||Notre Dame||22-13||Notre Dame|
Of course, USC has lost all those College GameDays under Lane Kiffin, a coach who downplayed everything and was not a proven motivator. Coach Ed Orgeron will no doubt have a very different attitude going into this game, and that could have an impact on how USC goes out and challenges the Cardinal.
Despite the way USC has looked over the past two weeks, the fact that the unranked Trojans are hosting the No. 4 team in the nation should be met with tempered expectations.
Stanford is fielding a team featuring 15 of 22 starting seniors. That is an incredible amount of experience and strength on both sides of the ball. Furthermore, the Cardinal are coming off an emotional high after beating the Oregon Ducks 26-20 last Thursday. The Cardinal have also beaten the Trojans every year since 2008. The past two matchups have been close ones, but Stanford still came out on top.
USC, on the other hand, is a team riddled with injury, one that managed to lose to Notre Dame and look extremely average while doing so.
Make no mistake, USC is a good team; very good, even. But when College GameDay shows up, will the Trojans be the better team on Saturday?
Fortunately for USC, football is a game of matchups, and the Trojans will certainly provide a good one for the Cardinal.