USC-Ohio State Preview

Buckeye CommentarySenior Analyst ISeptember 11, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Terrelle Pryor #2 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs the ball against the USC Trojans during the college football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 13, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

The least you should know:

  • Ohio State and USC have played 22 times. USC leads the series 12-9-1.
  • USC has won its last nine games against the Big Ten and has not lost a non-conference game since 2002.
  • Here is the Ohio State Media Guide preview for the game.

What the Internoodle is saying:

What Matt Barkley is saying:

They have television on computers now:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Weekly rant

Enough negativity already!  We all know OSU lost in 2008, but was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no! Listen, this is going to be a tough game but when I read quotes from freshman offensive linemen about how Columbus has turned against them, there is a problem.

Ohio State is not going to win this game if the fans and crowd are going to become a bunch of quiet, sissy naysayers the first time USC converts a third down. If that is your attitude then you need to stay home. If we quiet down like so many USC players predict we will, it will do as much harm to the OSU players as it will help the Trojans.  

This is going to be a war, and wars are not over until you are dead or you surrender. So far this week, I have met way too many folks who have already surrendered (everyone has been alive).

Get drunk if you have to. Go for a five-mile run. Do what you gotta do so you are ready for this game! Ohio Stadium needs to be louder than Penn State 2002 or Texas 2005.

A Dios rogando y con el mazo dando.

Look it up.

[/rant over]

Matchup Intro

This matchup has everything to do with what goes on between the ears as it does with what goes on between the sidelines. With the lone exception of Vince Young and Texas, USC has had the distinct advantage in this department against every elite team they face.  

It starts with their coach, who apparently shows up to practice everyday in a grass skirt holding a ukulele instead of a whistle and has Will Ferrell and Snoop Dogg hanging around practice. His teams play loose in every game and treat each opponent like another day at the office. ”No big deal, dude.”

Ohio State needs to channel its inner California while simultaneously playing with the biggest chip you can imagine on their shoulders. As mentioned above, Ohio State needs to be nasty.

As the old-schoolers say, “We have to punch them in the mouth.”

Tressel needs to break out that Hawaiian shirt again, along with that devilish grin because the Buckeyes have to win the attitude battle and be as nasty as possible. I don’t care if it is five seconds after this whistle, somebody needs to deck Barkley on his opening possession.  

I will take the 15-yard penalty. Remember when FSU best Florida in the regular season finale by repeatedly punishing Danny Wuerffel? I want that type of recklessness.

Aside from the above-referenced comment, I think the Buckeyes are handling things in the media this week. USC (and its former players) are doing plenty of talking, while you have barely heard a peep form the Buckeyes. Hopefully, the Buckeyes are too focused on winning the battle in the trenches to talk trash. The “us against the world” mentality has to be brewing in that locker room, and that is a very good thing.

OSU Offense v. USC Defense

We could talk about some fancy Xs and Os until we are blue in the face, but I think the Ohio State offensive performance comes down to one thing: first down. If Ohio State is going to have a productive offensive game, they are going to need three or four yards on every first down.  

When they are not productive on first down, they lose. I don’t care how they get those yards—I-formation, quarterback draw, or fake punt—they just have to get them. Second-and-6 is Pryor’s best friend. Any time USC knows what is coming, they have a great chance of stopping it.

The only specific play that I believe is necessary are long passing plays, and opportunities are there even with Taylor Mays roaming the secondary. Do you know how many interceptions Mr. Badass has last season? Zero. He may hurt his own teammates, but he does not appear to be super in pass coverage.  

Hell, even Anderson Russell, who has an innate ability to hesitate and a killer set of Braylonhands. found a few last year, but the biggest, baddest safety since Tatum (honorary captain this week, by the way) can’t get one? Rhymes with shmoverrated?  

If the Buckeyes can hit some big passes early on or just convince USC they are capable of doing so, it will open up the middle of the field for the backs and Pryor to run as well as the tight ends to catch short passes.

Here’s another thing that has to happen: all crucial plays need to be put into Pryor’s hands. Fourth-and-1: Designed QB run. Third-and-12: QB roll out. The coaches spent a year of their life trying to convince Pryor to come to OSU: Now they have to put it all in his hands. No questions asked.

USC Offense v. OSU Defense

We are all aware of what the Buckeyes need to do tomorrow: get pressure on the quarterback (whether with the defensive line or through creative blitzes), win the turnover margin, and stop/slow down their running game (you cannot realistically hope to stop it). But I think that philosophy applies to every game, though.

Listen, McKnight scares the living Biakabutuka out of me, and the anointing of Marinovich Jr. as the most precocious QB since, well, ever makes me sick. I know talk is cheap, the Bucks must sell out to stop the run and let Matt “I am a not a role model for those who value humility and decency” Barkley beat them.  

If he can, the Buckeyes may be in for a long night. If he can’t, they may be sitting pretty. Don’t forget, Barkley threw 23 picks as a senior in high school, which strongly suggests he has a tendency to spray the ball around.

Don’t put too much stock into the performance against Navy last week. That is not to say that Ohio State is going to shut down USC. Likewise, it is not a sign they will be lit up with multiple 85-yard passes. Just know that Navy’s offense was a very good test and the defense was not taking the day off last weekend.

That has to be a good thing.

(Quick) key matchups

Gibson and Heyward vs. USC O-line: If these two horses can cause some problems for the USC line like they did against Texas, the Buckeyes will be in a good place in the fourth quarter.

OSU WRs v. USC secondary: Posey, Sanzenbacher, and Carter need to display sure hands and a knack to slip a few tackles. They do not need to break a 40-yard run every catch, but they will be counted on to move the chains.

“Have to have it!” factor (a.k.a. Hate factor): Ten out of everything. This may be the most important game in Ohio Stadium in a long time.

Final line: This will be a competitive game with five minutes to go, and a huge play on special teams will make the difference.