The Trojan SCoop: Squeaking by Ohio State, Still No AP Respect?

Mitchell GoldenCorrespondent ISeptember 15, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 13:  Joe McKnight #4 of the Southern California Trojans looks for running room while playing the Ohio State Buckeyes on September 13, 2009 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. USC won the game 18-15. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

A squeak.

That is what countless Trojan fans witnessed this past Saturday night, as Matt Barkley, Joe McKnight, and the USC Trojans, well, squeaked by the Ohio State Buckeyes.

On campus, opinions are mixed, although almost all of them are positive. While students are impressed with Matt Barkley’s poise on the final drive and laugh at Terrelle Pryor’s lack of mental acuity, they agree on one thing: The University of Southern California was outplayed on Saturday.

Consider this: it took a fourth down touchdown in the first quarter and a last minute, 86-yard drive for the Trojans to muster up an 18-15 victory.

Ohio State stuffed the run for most of the game, and while Barkley looked good most of the time, he did not move the offense.

Two of the top reasons that Trojan fans use to explain this lack of offense? Let me give you a hint: Stadium noise isn't one of them.


Field Position

The Buckeye offense would consistently reach the 50-yard line, the Trojan defense would step up to the challenge, and the Buckeyes would then trap the Trojan offense inside their own 20.

Besides Chris Galippo’s interception return, no Trojan offensive drive began beyond the USC 22. Ohio State absolutely controlled the field position battle, which is why the game remained so close.


Poor Offensive Coaching

Every Trojan offensive drive, save one (after a holding call put them 20 yards back), began with a run. Ohio State noticed this and stuffed the run every time the Trojans started with the ball, causing couch coaches incredible pain.

Most drives ended before they had a chance to begin, as the Buckeyes crowded the box at the beginning of each drive. Yes, Pete, the fans understand that you want to be conservative with Barkley as he starts his career. But don’t be simple.


This week’s game against Washington looks to be much more difficult than the media may let on. Here are some varying opinions about the game.


From the typical college football fan

USC should run over Washington. Washington was 0-12 last year!


From a Pac-10 fan

Washington should be tough. They nearly beat LSU (from the highly overrated SEC), and look to be a completely different team with Jake Locker at the helm.


From a USC Player (this is true)

This is that game—the unexpected loss that plagues us every year. Washington has both our former offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator. We have had to work on completely changing our signals this week, in addition to the other preparations we normally do. This game will be much tougher to win than most people think.


USC, every year, loses to one team and ruins their championship hopes. Last year, that team was Oregon State, a team that Utah had just squeaked by (yes, the team that crushed Alabama only beat Oregon State by three).

Although Oregon State ended the season in the top 25 and eventually won their bowl game, pollsters regarded them as too weak a team for USC to lose to.

Of course, the Pac-10 is weaker than the SEC, so losing to Oregon State is much worse than losing to Ole Miss or Texas Tech (look at how Tech did in that bowl game). But enough typical conference strength ranting—a simple look at the computer rankings will show that USC should be No. 1 right now.

What truly matters: Washington is a different team this year. They have a stellar quarterback. Matt Barkley and Taylor Mays are not 100 percent this week—Barkley with a bruised shoulder, Mays with a sprained MCL in his knee.

Washington has former ‘SC coaches, so the Trojans have had to allot more time to signal changes and less to detailed film study and other areas of preparation.

Expect a thriller this week, as both teams will come to play.


Quick story of the day

My professor went to the USC-Ohio State game and was appalled by the OSU fans. One man, about 45 years of age, walked up to him and said, “Welcome to Ohio State.” My professor responded, "Thank you, that's very kind." The man continued, "I’d rather get AIDS than wear a Trojan." My professor walked away, astonished.

When my professor stopped into town to ask where to park, he was advised by the police to avoid Greek Row. Not because of the fraternities, but because of the sororities. Apparently they fill water balloons with paint and throw them out the window at opposing fans that walk by.

Classy, OSU, classy.