The University of Southern California (No. 18*) Trojans are 2-0 after “disappointing” victories over the Hawaii Warriors and Virginia Cavaliers. USC beat Virginia by only three points after being favored by 19.5 points.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers are 1-1 after a win over the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders and a 41-38 loss to the South Dakota Coyotes, a FCS college (formerly Division 1-AA). South Dakota was previously beaten 38-7 by the UCF Knights.
USC plays at Minnesota on September 18, 2010, and will be heavily favored again. The current spread is 13.5 points.
USC has lost four places in the AP poll after its two wins. Minnesota’s recent loss makes them appear to be such a bad team that a USC win would be meaningless.
However, there are several reasons why this may not be the case:
- The Trojans must play well on offense, defense, and special teams without the high number of penalties that have plagued them in the first two games.
- USC wins and significantly beats the point spread.
- USC demonstrates the type of improvement detailed in “Trojan Grades for Virginia and Fixes for Minnesota.”
USC has many inexperienced athletes. Each game is important for their development. This is also the case for many other teams.
The first two USC games have shown a “flip flop” in performance. This is partially due to the strengths and weaknesses of the opponents.
But, the fact that USC’s offense plays outstanding in one game and poorly in the next demonstrates that there is talent that needs developing.
The defense showed a marked improvement from the Hawaii game.
Penalties reflect lack of experience and discipline that can be corrected.
Most pundits believe that USC has the best football talent in the Pac-10.
So, every game is an opportunity to develop the inexperienced talent and improve as a team. There certainly have been many teachable moments so far.
No game is meaningless especially for a team that can’t play for the BCS championship this year.
Of course, if the Trojans lose this game then it will have even greater meaning and none of it good.
*AP Week 3 Poll
P.S. For Trojan fans who are especially disappointed with USC’s performance in the first two games, you may be interested in this article by Dan Weber of USCFootball.com, “All the answers after 2 games? Only here”