By Ben Johnson - Special To SBNation.com
College football certainly envelopes a lot of us. The crazy passions and unique traditions are certainly many and varied across the country, but few times in a college football season do we ever get such a plethora a big-time match-ups. Today, November 3rd, 2012 is the Thanksgiving version of college football with a full plate of offerings to choose from leaving us all thankful that we get to sit back a be a part of something special.
I could give a rip who wins the LSU-Alabama affair, but as a passionate college football fan, I will be watching at Sams Place Sports Bar here in Eugene, where I can catch all the action on one of 25 televisions, with my own personal TV at my customary Saturday booth.
The Oregon radio network is here, with all of their pre-game public relations hype for how good Oregon is.
You can imagine, as an SC and Boise State fan, as well as being an OSU Beaver Baseball Alum, I get more than a little tired and annoyed at the never ending Duck hype machine.
It's one thing to have your own radio network, it's entirely another to have what amounts to your own public relations campaign.
We get it...Oregon's good, but lets wait and see how the season plays out to see how good!
Point taken, last night on the radio - while driving home from work - I had to sit and withstand the tidal wave of emotion, including all the wild sensationalism with predictions of Oregon blowing out a hapless SC program.
Scores, such as, 63-14, 56-21 or even hanging 70 on the Trojans were common place.
First of all (a heads up tip that you know when I'm pissed off when I start with first of all), given USC's less than sterling performance thus far in 2012, the Trojans still have significantly better numbers offensively and defensively as compared to a season ago in 2011, excluding Barkley.
The big difference being the explosion plays SC has given up on both sides of the ball (big play strikes against a tired SC defense by Arizona and Stanford, especially in the second half, and the offensive fumbles and interceptions for touchdowns, as well as sacks, and the overall poundings QB Matt Barkley has withstood).
But the big - glaring - issue has been clock management, penalties and overall play calling when the game is on the line.
Those are issues directly pointed at Lane Kiffin.
At the end of the day, those fall on his shoulders and it will be interesting to see what explanations and excuses he will come up this week if Oregon is truly what it's fan base thinks it is.
However, if you think Oregon is going to simply march into the LA Coliseum and blast the Trojans, you have another thing coming Duck nation.
For starters, since 1988, when Oregon began its meteoric climb into the college football elite, the Trojans still hold a 10-8 advantage, even including the four year stretch between 1998 and 2001 when the Ducks beat the Trojans four straight.
As good as Oregon has been over that stretch, the Trojans are still in command in the series, even including the 3-3 record versus the Ducks since Chip Kelly has been onboard as the OC and Head Coach.
The four year period between 1998-2001 is the only time in the series (which has been dominated...and I mean dominated by the Trojans to the tune of 37-17-2) the Ducks have won more than two straight prior to the 1956-1958 stretch when the Ducks won three in a row.
Furthermore, the Trojans hold a 23-6-1 record versus the Ducks at home and only twice in the entire series has USC scored 30 or more points versus the Ducks and lost.
At home this year, the Trojans have scored 49, 42 and 50 at home when the playbook has been wide open.
And Duck fans are thinking they can win a shootout?
Tell you what Duck fans, you better hope that USC offense doesn't show up; you better hope they don't get out to a fast start; you better hope that that 30-27 overall opponent record doesn't end up working out for you like it did for Mississippi State, whose 34-33 opponent record has exposed its' over-rated self to the tune of back-to-back blow out losses.
You'd better hope Marcus Mariota stays healthy because you're one play away from disaster. A fall to earth that would be epic with your back-up QB's taking the reins.
But mostly, you'd better hope that QB Matt Barkley doesn't pull one more magical day out of his pocket, a reminder to all the arrogant fan display going on in Eugene can come crumbling down upon you in an instant, especially if Marcus Mariota has a game like Dennis Dixon had at Cal or Joey Harrington had at Michigan State or Wisconsin early in their Duck careers.
Other than the fan arrogance, there are too many unknowns regarding Mariota, who has at times, fumbled and thrown key mind blowing interceptions.
The overall fan arrogance was never more on display last weekend when we watched the Beavers lose here at Sams Place Sports Bar to the dreaded Huskies.
Duck fans were delirious with venom, loving the fact that the Beavs were beaten.
Little did they realize that losses by both USC and Oregon State (on the same day to boot), combined with two losses by the Stanford Cardinal will doom the Ducks if Notre Dame remains unbeaten.
With common opponents USC and Stanford on the Irish schedule, the Ducks will need those blow-out type victories over the Trojans, Ducks and Cardinal to out-luck the Irish, because if the contests are marginally close, its hello Alabama-Notre Dame for the national title.
The Ducks needed the Beavers to be un-beaten, to prop up the substance behind the hype, because the real threat here is Notre Dame. Without a marquee victory, who can the Ducks really stake their claim to the NC upon?
A USC team with three losses, a Beaver team that will likely lose at least three, or a Stanford program that was beaten by both Notre Dame and the Huskies, and may in fact lose a couple more?
The Irish schedule may lose some computer credibility down the stretch, but on the human side, if you think the pollsters around the country are going to vote an un-beaten Notre Dame out of the national championship, you do not understand the hidden power of the Vatican and the role it plays within the media involving world events of the past 50 plus years.
They are a major player in world events.
Don't take it lightly.
Even if Oregon wins today, which I don't think it will given the untested-ness of the overall Oregon program in 2012 along with key injuries on defense, if Notre Dame remains unbeaten, you literally have no chance in the NC race.
The mountain comes crumbling down today, folks, if this game is even remotely close at halftime, the gates are swinging to the Trojans in the second half.
I'm calling for the Trojans in a route!
Anyone with some big ol Ka-ho-nus with me?
This will be Barkley's shining moment as a senior, for he didn't come back to go 8-4 or 9-3 and play in the Las Vegas Bowl.
He wins it in spite of the Lane Kiffin effect!
Your predictions and responses are welcome!
Enjoy Thanksgiving Saturday's version of college football.