For some reason, in recent years the Pacific Ten conference has received the "wrap" as being a one team league, dominated by the University of Southern California. That statement might be true, and rightfully so.
The USC Trojans have won seven straight Pac-10 championships, and have tossed aside "supposed" tough competition from the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl games. However, with the exception of Oregon, this season Pac-10 teams have been flexing their muscles in non conference games on big stages.
The spotlight was on USC as they went into the Horseshoe to play "the" Ohio State, nonetheless with a true freshman quarterback in Matt Barkley, the Trojans pulled off the exciting road victory.
Barkley, who has been the leader of his respective team since he was a bright eyed freshman at Mater Dei high school in Santa Ana, CA. Other than missing a game here and there for injuries, Barkley has been winning games for prestigious programs from day one, but no victory was as sweet as this one.
Barkley's numbers were not impressive, although they did not need to be. USC's defense shut down the Ohio State Buckeyes' ground attack from the opening whistle, while the Trojans used their own ground attack to get into the end zone.
Ohio State quarterback, Terrell Pryor, looked flustered, because of the Trojans' daunting pass rush, the sophomore signal caller only completed 11 of 25 passes while throwing an interception.
However, that was not the only impressive victory for the Pac-10 on Saturday. USC's crosstown rival earned a quality road victory in Knoxville, TN. Rick Nueheisel took his Bruin show on the road using his own game manager under center, Kevin Prince.
To say that this game was a defensive struggle, would be a tremendous understatement. Neither team eclipsed 250 yards of total offense, however, one team made mistakes, the other, didn't.
The UCLA Bruins true freshman, Kevin Prince, threw a touchdown to fullback Chane Moline in the second quarter to tie the game at 10-10. Prince finished with 101 yards and a touchdown.
His counterpart for the Tennessee Volunteers, did not fare as well in front of his home crowd. Jonathan Crompton threw three interceptions, and one of them came on the first offensive play after halftime, much to the dismay of first year head coach Lane Kiffin.
Both of these young quarterbacks from the Los Angeles area have proved their worth early as college quarterbacks in herculean circumstances. As 18-19 year old team leaders, these young men guided their football teams to victories in front of crowds of over 100,000 people.
That is a pretty big difference from "friday night lights" at a high school stadium. No one said it was going to be an easy task to win these games, even for USC going to play Ohio State.
The question going forward has to be, "will these youthful quarterbacks continue to shine in the bright light, on the toughest of stages, or will the young gunslingers show inexperience in tough situations?"
As of right now, the inexperienced Pac-10 quarterbacks have shown their ability in tough scenarios on the road, while their coaches have relied on the defensive units to provide the co-starring roles, to earn hard fought victories.
Pete Carroll and Rick Neuheisel have drawn up the blue prints for success on the road, and coming up in the next couple of weeks the Pac-10 will have similar tests with Arizona State traveling to Athens, GA to play the Bulldogs, and the Cal Bears will take their high powered offense to the midwest to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
The bottom line for the Pac-10 in the past has been offense, but in recent years the defensive prowess and dominance of USC has altered the coaching philosophies in the conference. As the saying goes, "defense wins championships, offense provides the opportunities".
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