The Trojan faithful are perplexed… we know the team is having trouble. All but the most ardent of homers is not betting on an undefeated season. And yet, looking forward, there’s room for if not optimism then at least for not giving up all hope.
Oregon State at home is never a gimme-game, but they have some key injuries and are apparently susceptible to a running game. Hey, SC has one of those. As long as the SC offensive line keeps those nasty Beavers away from Booty (????) this should be not too bad.
Stanford is in such awful shape that unless they have their one freakishly unexpected good game of the season, this is going to be like practice against the second team. Again, not be to taken lightly, because you never know when a team is going to have a good day, but still.
I want to see a couple of more Oregon games, but it seems like they might have settled into the wildly unpredictable portion of the season. If that’s so, then the game is winnable.
Cal remains the class of the Pac-10; the key question is this: were they looking past Washington (a reasonable reaction to Stanback’s injury), or are there tendencies that the SC coaches can key in on? Cal certainly won’t be looking for anything other than to hand SC’s ass to them, so I’m hoping it’s tendencies…
Notre Dame is a funny team. They are often outplayed but only once outmatched (Go Blue!), but that last gasp 2 minute drive capability makes them a handful. I think that SC had better spend some time working over the tight ends and Samardzija — specifically getting to him before he can drop to the turf –, because anything that forces ND to rely on their iffy running game works for SC. Too good a job on the run defense and we may be watching Air Irish wreaking havoc. And who needs that? Anyway, this might be another chance to cost Notre Dame millions, a chance that UCLA let slip through their fingers…
Speaking of UCLA, what the hell? They have the defense to stop SC, but until we see Ben Olson back from injury it will be hard to know if UCLA can take advantage of the Trojan secondary. Mind you the coaching from Dorrell & Co. doesn’t really work in the Bruins’ favor.
Net net, it’s still possible that SC could go 3 – 3 in the second half of the season and go to a minor bowl. But looking at the schedule, and assuming reasonable health and not too much freaky behaviour, you could reasonably expect USC to go for ball control over points and grind out 5 – 1 for the second half of the season. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that they’ll do something goofy like lose to Oregon State and then win out, thereby losing all manner of ranking chi.