Friday, September 26, 2008

OSU stuns the Trojans. No, not that OSU.

Well, once again a Pete Carroll Trojan team billed as the "Best Ever in the History of Football (Pro or College!)" loses to an unranked Pac-10 foe, probably because they started to believe the hype written about them in the Los Angeles Times and the Daily Trojan.

Notre Dame fans are, of course, devastated by the USC loss. Faced with a schedule that is much weaker than that of previous seasons, the Irish were counting on the significant boost in "strength of schedule" rating that a November win over an undefeated USC would have provided. Crunching the numbers, the staff here at OC Domer have concluded that the USC loss to Oregon State probably puts Notre Dame's chances of playing in the National Championship game mathematically out of reach.

As for the Trojans, they fell pray to the same malady that besets many great, or near great, teams. Coming out of the gate 2-0, winning a huge game on the national stage in week 2, teams are vulnerable to both complacency (over-confidence) and the natural let-down that follows an emotional high. Being the best coach in the history of college football (ever!), you would have expected USC Coach Pete Carroll to see this coming, especially after watching the same phenomenon topple the Irish against Michigan State last Saturday. But it seems that Pete and the Trojans are as human as Charlie Weis and the Irish, so both teams after three games sit at 2-1.

A couple of additional thoughts:

1. Mark Sanchez for Heisman! Not. Sanchez plays well within the USC system, just like Matt Leinart and J.D. Booty did. But that system only requires the QB to take the snap, drop back in the pocket, eat a brown-bag lunch, read the sports section of the L.A. Times, and then heave the ball down the field to receivers running wide-freaking-open in the secondary. But the system breaks down when the quarterback actually comes under a little pressure, or when an opponent actually covers the USC receivers as they run their routes. We saw with Leinart, Booty, and now Sanchez that they are still good QBs, but they are very human when they have to deal with tight coverage and pressure like other quarterbacks who have mere mortals as teammates.

2. After USC annihilated that other OSU, Buckeye fans were left muttering about how the game would have been different if Beanie Wells had played. They were generally shouted down by experts (i.e., the idiots on ESPN) who assured us that Beanie is good, but that the game wouldn't have been much different with him in it. Watching freshman Beaver running back Jacquizz Rodgers gash and befuddle the USC defense to the tune of 186 yards and two touchdowns, I now wonder if Beanie might have made a bigger difference in the most recent Game of the Century.

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