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The Showdown At The Shoe - Is USC The Real Big 10 Champs?

**Quick note - Today will be part 1 of a 2-part mini-series for "The Showdown At The 'Shoe" aka USC vs. Ohio State. Phillip Barnett aka "I'm So Hideous" who is now contributing for the Bakersfield Californian, will bless us with the gospel that is USC football. Thanks P!**

First off I’d like to formally congratulate Ed and Kenny on a second consecutive Black Weblog Award for the Best Sports Blog. Good stuff.

I dread writing for readers who aren’t from California cautiously because for some reason, we Californians have been stuck with a stigma for lacking the logic to successfully debate about sports. Yes, I am a Lakers fan, but no, I’m not THAT Lakers fan. Yes, I’m a USC fan, but I’m not THAT USC fan. I don’t think Kobe was God’s Gift to basketball and I do think USC has ruined three straight years of GREAT football teams by losing to sub-par competition; but can I be real for a minute here? Thanks.

I’m trying not to do a lot of boasting about the excellence the Trojans have exuded for the past seven years nor am I trying to put down the fans of top ranked teams who will fall during the course of the season, because Rose Bowl wins have gotten old and mean nothing when the losses you have come against the likes of UCLA, Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State (x2) the last three years (hence my “I will not trash talk Oregon and Oklahoma fans until after USC wins the BCS Championship” Facebook status; sorry, Ed). But the thing is, USC has dominated the Big 10 conference since that 38-17 trashing of Iowa State in the 2002 Orange Bowl, and OSU isn’t going to be saying Rose Bowl wins are getting old until they win one (it’s been over a decade, 1997 anyone?).

Pete Carroll has spoiled us USC fans by scheduling and beating top ranked opponents, so at this point, Ohio State just looks like another tradition filled program who will, once again, fail trying to topple the Trojans. Look, I know it can be done (no need to remind me of VY10 38, USC 34), but looking at the scope of things, who else has a better record against the best in the country in the last seven years than the Trojans (13-3 against top 10 opponents since Pete Carroll took over)? A better question is why would the Big-10 conference start winning now?

2002: USC 38, Iowa 17

2003: USC 28, Michigan 14

2006: USC 32, Michigan 18

2007: USC 47, Illinois 17

2008: USC 35, Ohio State 3; USC 38; Penn State 24

Now I’m not ready to crown USC Big-10 champs just yet, because they do have to go into the ‘Shoe and take care of business. However, I don’t really see the outcome turning out much different from any of the other USC-Big Ten match ups we’ve seen.

Matt Barkley may not have much starting experience, and going to Columbus will be the biggest stage he’s ever performed on, but he’s the last thing USC fans are going to have to worry about considering he has what may be the best offensive line in the nation (five returning starters and tons, literally, of depth) and four other running backs after Joe McKnight those Buckeyes would love to have on their side.

Terrell Pryor should get all of the attention going into this game from the quarterback position, because he will definitely make or break OSU’s season. It’s unfortunate he’s going to have to be put in a position to where he’s going to have to make throws with only DeVier Poser and Dane Sanzenbacher out wide, who are well, less than explosive at the WR position and USC’s starting secondary features four starters, including the hard-hitting Taylor Mays.

Even with Cushing, Matthews and Maualuga gone, USC still has one of the fastest linebacker units in the nation with Michael Morgen, Malcolm Smith and Chris Gallipo, who will be out there just to make sure Pryor doesn’t get going early in the game.

Sure USC lost a lot of talent (11 drafted), but Ohio State did too (seven drafted), but Tressell hasn’t recruited talent like Carroll has, and I expect my Facebook status to read, “I will not trash talk Ohio State fans until after USC wins the BCS Championship” by sometime a little after 8p.m. PST.

-P. Barnett aka "I'm So Hideous"


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