Thursday, September 14, 2006
First off, the Trojans are without LenDale White, Reggie Bush, and Matt Lienhart. But they are "reloading" with John David Booty. They do have a decent backfield and if we look at what they did to Arkansas, then we can see they are clearly the powerhouse dynasty, correct? Well, not entirely. Remember that Houston Nutt is exactly what his name proclaims him to be. He wanted a high school player so bad, that he made this kid's high school coach the Offensive Coordinator. So Nutt then allows him to run this "high school" offense in a IA level, without Mustain starting. The results could not have been more disastrous. (unless of course you are a Colorado player). So USC did good against a "high school" offense. And let's face it, out of the 100+ NCAA Div IA teams today, I am going to say that a good 95% of those teams could have beaten Arkansas that day.
But USC has talent. And they also have talent that is injured. Fullback Brandon Hancock sustained a season-ending knee injury in practice August 14, safety Josh Pinkard sustained a season-ending knee injury in the Trojans' season-opening 50-14 victory at Arkansas on September 2 and now nose tackle Sedrick Ellis' right knee locked and underwent arthroscopic surgery Tuesday. Tailback Chauncey Washington may not see the field this weekend. And their are rumors of a CB that may not start for the Trojans. But make no mistake, the Trojans will be ready.
All you have to do to see that is look at the head coach, Pete Carroll. While he may seem calm and collected at times, he really is a fun-loving guy. He expects many things from his team, but above all, he expects them to execute, and win. An outcast from the NFL, Carroll has made the Trojans into a team to be respected. In all of his games against former NFL head coaches, Carroll is perfect. He has not lost to former NFL head coaches. But it is not just that either. USC has a swagger now. The last time that was seen was when Robinson was in his prime. They have done a great job in the Pac 10. However, against Big XII schools, Carroll is 2-3, losing to K State twice, and Texas last year. So Carroll is going to be ready, and he is going to get his team ready. Although it looks as if this game is going to go USC's way, history has proven that rankings in a poll do not determine the winners of a game.
Let me take you back to 1996. Nebraska had just played in the past three National Championship games, and won 2 of those games. Nebraska had multiple award winners and was considered to reload, not rebuild. Sure the Touchdown Tommie era had ended, but Nebraska just reloads. Nebraska had played an overmatched Michigan State team and beat them very handily, 55-14. Then the Huskers were to go to ASU and play them in two weeks. Now this ASU team, with the core almost entirely intact, had lost to Nebraska the previous year by a score of 77-28. Local Phoenix stations were welcoming the Huskers to town, the fans they bring to a game means a lot of money to local businesses. And many stations wanted to see how far the Devils had come since last year and the maturity of one Jake Plummer. In fact, local Phoenix stations were saying that this Sun Devils team was good enough to compete for the Pac 10 title, and would only lose by a little bit to the vaunted Huskers. Sure the Devils would get beat this year, but not by the huge difference from the previous year. Nebraska has a "bye" week to prepare for this ASU game. And ASU played a small patsy named North Texas beating them 52-7. Then came Nebraska. Nebraska had a week off, ASU did not. Nebraska was ranked in the top 5 in the polls, ASU was ranked #17. Kickoff happened on September 21, 1996. And as Nebraska marched up and down the field, ASU matched them and outplayed them. In fact, ASU made Nebraska go back to Lincoln with a big fat goose egg. The Sun Devils not only won, they shut out the Huskers. A team that did not have any hope to win the game, and it came away with a shutout.
USC is a 2 time National Championships winner, playing in the last three national championships. They just lost their starting QB and the backfield to graduation, and have been pronounced as "reloading". They played an overmatched team and then had a week off. Maybe history is going to repeat itself.