While the Trojan band was playing Conquest in the Horseshoe, I began thinking of all of the things promised by Buckeye players, coaches and fans.
The USC Trojans beat the Buckeyes in 2008 by a score of 35-3. That game was played in Los Angeles. The 2009 game was played in the Horseshoe.
Things were said and promises made.
Buckeye coaches and players promised their fans that this was going to be a game of redemption. This was supposed to return the Buckeyes to the elite of college football.
The Buckeye players and coaches had this game circled on their calenders and seared into their hearts.
The Buckeye coaches and players were mad when Pete Carroll named Matt Barkley as his starting quarterback (QB). They took it as an insult.
The Buckeye Nation (coaches, players and fans) promised that no freshman QB was going to come into the Horseshoe and beat their team. They promised that the Horseshoe was going to be too intimidating, too loud, too big, too...everything.
The players and fans claimed that the Horseshoe was everything. They said it's impossible for a kid QB to match-up to a fierce Buckeye team, determined to avenge itself for their humiliating loss in Los Angeles.
Pete Carroll heard and read about all of the above. His response was to have his players sleep-in and rest. They had a game of "fat man's football" the night before they played the Buckeyes.
Carroll has always said, "first things first."
The "fat man's game" is between the offensive and defensive lines. This game is normally played on road games the night before the actual one takes place.
Pete Carroll has said for a long time that the Ohio State game was nothing more than just another road game. That's the difference between the Trojans and the Buckeyes. USC has a coaching staff of experienced NFL coaches, the Buckeyes don't.
I wrote an article recently about how it was "Impossible for Ohio State to beat USC." I made it clear that the game would be decided by the coaches. I couldn't have been more right.
There are nine USC players with fathers who have played in the NFL. Regardless of where they went to college, they wanted their sons to go to USC. Coaching makes a huge difference, be it in college or the NFL and the NFL players know it.
The halftime adjustments were really the most amazing. Pete Carroll has long been known for being the best in college football in correcting mistakes at halftime. There is a reason for that.
Last season the Trojans shut-out the majority of the teams they played in the second half. That wasn't by accident, it was by coaching.
The announcers during the game and the commentators after all agreed on one thing. If you are to beat USC, you had better out-score them big in the first half. You may not get another chance to score.
Following yesterday's game, the Buckeye head coach stated, "You can't expect to win by only scoring five points in the second-half." Duh.
I also pointed out that the coaching staff is responsible for keeping the talent coming in. USC does that like no other college in the nation.
People were pointing out that USC had lost "their entire defense from last year." I made it a point to say that the Trojans hadn't. I also pointed out that the depth chart at USC might be confusing to some without the experience to understand it.
I had a senior writer with b/r question my knowledge of the USC depth chart. I wonder what he is thinking now, having seen what Jurrell Casey (defensive tackle) did to the Buckeyes? He wasn't listed as a returning "starter," even though he was.
Some uninformed people kept saying that the loss of receiver Ronald Johnson would hurt the Trojans badly. I would like to point out that number nine in yesterday's game was Johnson's replacement.
His name is David Ausberry. He is 6'-4", 235 pounds and was very hard to bring down last night. He has also started for the Trojans, but lost his job in practice. He is hardly a normal replacement. He was also not listed as a "returning starter."
There are more examples on both offense and defense of returning players with experience.
Coaching is also responsible for how an offense is operated. Pete Carroll has always run a pro style offense and left the "spread and butter" to the teams who needed a trick.
The problem with Ohio State and others is that they recruit the "hike me the ball and I'll run with it" players. That doesn't impress good teams with good coaches. Pete Carroll has seen that with Ohio State (twice), Penn State, and Illinois.
His Trojans laid the wood on all of them. Do these coaches have anything else to offer?
Jim Tressel actually thought that Terrelle Pryor could run through Pete Carroll's NFL style defense. It didn't work. Mr. Tressel should know that it will never work. There are 11 players on offense, not just the "hike me the ball" QB.
It was announced that a record 106,033 people were in the Horseshoe to see the game. They were an impressive crowd indeed. However, it's not and never will be the most intimidating place to play.
The Buckeyes wilted in a more intimidating place last year when they lost to USC 35-3. The Trojans go to class in the heart of the "Entertainment Capital of the World." They play football in, arguably, the most historical stadium in the United States.
Is it possible that the Horseshoe is being a bit overblown? I was born in West Virginia. I recall being impressed with the Ohio River, until I saw the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River running through it.
There was never a mention of an "intimidating atmosphere" before the Los Angeles game. There's no one out in Los Angeles that would bring such a thing up.
As they say, the last to notice water are fish.
The final statistics from the game were the most impressive.
Ohio State was able to score five points in the second half, but none in the fourth quarter. USC scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a long drive and then made a two point conversion.
Terrel Pryor was out performed by a freshman in the Horseshoe. Matt Barkley had more passing yards and a better completion average than Pryor.
USC had rushed for more yards and passed for more than Ohio State.
And just as I promised, Conquest was played in the Horseshoe.
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