If you think USC is walking out of the horseshoe with an easy win you are out of your mind. There is no way.
Sure USC rolled Ohio St. 35-3 last year in Southern California. And yes Ohio St. is again coming off a poor performance against an under-matched mid-major team (Ohio St. trailed Ohio entering the fourth last year).
And I know that what I'm about to say has been said a million times before. but that was last year. The Buckeyes are not a team that overlooks something like the beating they received last year.
USC will not turn the game of the year into another channel-changer. Matt Barkley is not lighting the Buckeyes defense up for four touchdowns as Mark Sanchez did a season ago.
Ohio St. gets a bad rep for having a soft schedule, but they have played these marquee type games before. Remember the '04-'05 duels with Vince Young and Texas, an '03-'04 against a better Washington program, and played on the road against a No. 7 Washington St. in 02.
The program is ready, the team is ready, and the fans are ready, the fans most likely having the biggest impact on the game.
They are insane, and will be maniacs. Roughly 105,000 maniacs. It is going to be louder than loud at the horseshoe. I don't care how good Matt Barkley is, he is not going to deal with that like a pro. The fans are going to be on him like Michael Vick on the road. USC is going to get Yankee treatment this weekend.
And the Buckeyes will thrive.
You don't think Jim Tressel has been preparing OSU for weeks for this game. Maybe Navy was a bit looked over by the Buckeyes. He won't make the same mistake he did last year when Ohio University gave them all they could handle for 60 minutes.
What the Buckeyes don't have to worry about is a week of media attention over their superstar injury, and what USC does have to worry about, is a playmaker in Terrelle Pryor.
"Jim, how worried are you that Chris Wells, your only threat, will not be playing this week?"
"There will be no Beanie Wells questions please."
"Sorry Jim, so how long are you planning to play Chris?"
Instead, its all about Terrelle Pryor. Pryor looked more than comfortable playing at USC last year. He also managed Ohio St. like a Senior against Texas in the Fiesta Bowl. I know he is not fully proven and I don't care, this kid is a college star.
And for all these reasons I am going to root for the underdog. I am going to believe in Ohio St. this week. I am going to believe in the Big 10.
And maybe I'll be congratulating Matt Barkley next week.