USC is undefeated on the season although no one would ever know when talking to any of their coaches or players. The Trojans, with unimpressive wins over Hawaii and Virginia, have not looked like the Trojans of old: Their defense looks beatable, the overall play is undisciplined, and they don’t appear to be having any fun.
Reason? Well, the whacky “Uncle Pete” has left the building and it is the new era in Trojan football; the Lane Kiffin era. And the new sheriff in town demands professionalism and perfection, not just wins.
REVIEW: The Trojans’ offense and defense did just enough to escape from the Coliseum with a win in their home opener against the Virginia Cavaliers. Quarterback Matt Barkley was a manageable 20 for 35 with 202 yards passing and two touchdowns. Marc Tyler rushed 18 times for 67 yards, and freshman playmaker, Dillon Baxter added 49 yards on nine carries for the game.
In two games, the Trojans (2-0, 0-0 Pac-10) have racked up 24 penalties. They lead the nation in penalty yards with 240.
PREVIEW: The Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) are coming off an embarrassing loss in their home opener to South Dakota (quick, name their mascot and city where they are located?), a Football Championship Subdivision team – which is like getting beat by your younger brother’s nerdy friend. With that being said, this game is a huge trap game for a Trojan team that is struggling to execute, and possibly even with their confidence.
On Saturday in Minnesota, the NCAA’s 107th ranked defense will take the field (116th ranked pass defense and 66th ranked rush defense). Obviously, we are talking about the Golden Gophers … WRONG! It is the Trojans defense. The Golden Gophers are 25 spots ahead of the Trojans and ranked 82nd. Neither of those numbers are anything to write home about considering there are only 120 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. However, this won’t be a “practice” game for the Trojans as the Golden Gophers have too much to prove and a whole lot of pride that has been bruised.
THE TROJANS KEYS TO VICTORY:
THREE REASONS THE TROJANS CAN LOSE:
"Gopher" A Run – The Gophers have the 18th best rushing attack in the NCAA averaging 243 yards per game behind the efforts of junior running back Duane Bennett. If you keep the Trojans defense on the field and wore out then you have kept Barkley and the boys off the field and unable to take advantage of your own weak defense. If the Gophers want to win the scoreboard, they must first win the time of possession.
Play Like You Have Nothing to Lose – The reason Minnesota can play like they have nothing to lose is because they have nothing to lose. All the pressure to not only win but to make a big statement is on the Trojans sideline. The Gophers can go out and play loose and take all the risks because there won’t be a single fan in TCF Bank Stadium who thinks they have a shot at upsetting the “Mighty Men of Troy.” If the Gophers can keep it close throughout the game, they can sit back and watch the Trojans tighten up down the stretch as the Gopher fans start looking toward the upset.
It Feels Like Déjà Vu All Over Again – The Kansas Jayhawks lost their home opener to North Dakota State, a subdivision team like the South Dakota Coyotes from Vermillion, South Dakota. The following week, which was just last week, the Jayhawks played the then #15 Georgia Tech; No chance for a victory! However, the Jayhawks pulled off the improbable upset and won 28-25. Look for the Golden Gophers to be sporting some Jayhawk feathers under their pads because they will need all the help they can get to steal a win from the Trojans.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
"Our standards are so high because we are at 'SC and because we have high standards in general, coaches and players. I think everyone, including ourselves, forgets that it is our first year. We expect our players to have picked up three new systems. There's only one coach here from last year out of all the 10 coaches. We do sometimes forget that because we expect our guys to play great and never make mistakes in our new schemes." – Lane Kiffin, during the Pac-10 coaches’ conference call.
MAKE ME LOOK SMART:
You want to look like you know what you’re talking about? Then, pull this nugget out just before the first chip hits the cheesy dip.
“Hey, did you know that Lane (use his first name to make it sound like you guys are “boys”) was a star quarterback at Bloomington Jefferson High just outside Minneapolis? Yeah, it was when Monte was an assistant coach for the Vikings.”
And if that isn't enough to leave your whole party in awe, then throw this fun fact down:
“Wow, this a beautiful new stadium! You know this will be the third different Minneapolis stadium in which USC and Minnesota played. The 1955 and 1968 games were in Memorial Stadium, the 1980 game was in the Metrodome and this 2010 contest is in TCF Bank Stadium.”
And then, go straight for the dip!
TROJAN FANS, GET INVOLVED
There are two ways for you to get involved:
#18 USC Trojans @ Minnesota Golden Gophers (Minnesota) 12:30 p.m. Kickoff
The Trojans win with an offensive explosion.
Trojans 42 - Warriors 28
Virginia keeps it close at half but second half is all Trojans.
Trojans 34 - Cavaliers 17
Minnesota scores first and then the Trojans roll.
Trojans 42 - Gophers 13