X

Emerald Bowl: USC's Most Important Postseason Game of the Decade

Paul PeszkoSenior Writer IDecember 17, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans leads his team on to the field prior to the start of the NCAA college football game against the Arizona Wildcats at the Los Angeles Coliseum on December 5, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

What was that? No, I’m not hitting the holiday eggnog a little early. I don’t even like the stuff.

For that matter, I’m not too fond of Emerald Nuts either.

However, Trojan fans should be looking forward to the Emerald Bowl versus Boston College as it is the most important postseason game of the Pete Carroll era.

Why? Because Pete Carroll has anointed it as such.  

While the two Orange Bowl appearances were certainly the most spectacular of the Carroll era, a victory over Texas in the National Championship at the Rose Bowl in January 2006 would have sealed USC’s place as the Team of the Decade with an unprecedented three consecutive national championships.

Although that game was the Trojans most meaningful postseason contest, the last minute loss to underdog Texas took a lot of the glimmer off the game and USC’s season.

However, turning to this year’s minor, non-BCS bowl game…

If all of Pete Carroll’s talk of rebirth and recreating that winning spirit which led to the first Orange Bowl victory is not just a bunch of hype, then this year’s Emerald Bowl has to be the most meaningful postseason game of the decade for Carroll’s Trojans.

A loss would not only end the season on a major down note, but it would dampen the hopes for the kind of revival that Carroll and his staff envision.

Of course, the game is important for the seniors, many of whom hope to be playing on Sunday next year. This is the last time they will don the Cardinal and Gold.

But for the returning players, this game is even more meaningful. Next season’s hopes rest with them. They are the ones who will be carrying the Cardinal and Gold banner into the new decade and can rekindle the winning spirit that Pete Carroll speaks of.

Yes, recruiting is always important, but there is no way that the Trojans are going to start 18 true freshman in 2010. One or possibly two at the most may get starting assignments.

So, it will be the returning players who must fill the first and second levels of the depth chart on both sides of the ball. That is why this game is so important.

Do they have it in them to step up and play winning football against a formidable Boston College team? Can they regain that spirit of finishing which somehow disappeared over the final half of the season?

Do the coaches have what it takes to rekindle that spirit in these young men? Can they devise a winning game plan and communicate that plan to the players and have them carry it out to a strong finish?

Can Matt Barkley regain the luster and the spark that wore off as the season wore on? Can he show that he is every bit worthy of the praise Pete Carroll has heaped on him? Can he show that he is the one to lead the Trojans into the next decade?

Which returning players will show that they are ready to step up and be next year’s Men of Troy?  

There is much work that needs to be done if the program is to return to national prominence and its top five status any time soon, and that work must begin with this year’s Emerald Bowl.

TROJAN NOTES: Win one, Lose one. Cornerback Shareece Wright has passed his exams and has been declared eligible for the Emerald Bowl.  However, Josh Pinkard will miss the Emerald Bowl.  The sixth-year senior almost made it through the entire season without being sidelined with an injury.

Josh tore his ACL in the Arizona game and has undergone surgery.  We wish him well and hope to watch him play on Sundays next season.

Senior Garrett Green, who also tore an ACL in the UCLA game, will see action in the Emerald Bowl as a holder on extra point and field goal tries.

Running back recruit Trajuan Briggs from Birmingham High has decommitted from USC and instead has given his verbal commit to the Cal Bears. That leaves the Trojans with 13 commits so far.

🚨 SPORTS NEWS ➡️ YOUR INBOX

The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.