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You Knew This Was Coming

No it's not another scandal!

ESPN's Ivan Maisel has this little gem up. Of course it was to be expected but it seems to be a little late in coming, a lot of commentors and bloggers have made the same observations. After the loss on Dec. 2nd there were a ton of questions as to how the SC offense couldn't counter the Bruin defense. I think it's a fair question but I also think a big part of the answer came to us on Dec. 27th.

I am not so naive to think that Coach Walker didn't put together a great game plan against us, as we saw it obviously worked. But I also think that part of that win was the Bruins getting up for this particular game and the fact that maybe, just maybe, SC didn't have enough in the tank after their big wins against Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame in the previous weeks.

Watching the Bruins go back to their old, uninspired ways of the regular season in the Emerald Bowl seemed to give me a little more clarity on where we are at. I think SC will have it's hands full against a great Michigan Defense but I also know that SC has always found a way to get up for the big games. Now I am not saying that the loss on Dec. 2nd is completely behind us, that loss was a tough pill to swallow and because of it, coupled with the Bruin loss to FSU was bound to have some big questions arise.

Maisel seizes on the obvious:

What USC faces Monday in Michigan's defense may look uncomfortably familiar. The Wolverines' defensive line, as the Bruins' did four weeks ago, can break down an offensive line without the help of a blitz. Michigan, as UCLA did against USC, can leave a running game broken down on the side of the road.

In other words, the task for the Trojans offense is simple. It must prove that it can handle the pressure that it failed to handle on the same field a month earlier.

"UCLA was putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback," Michigan defensive end LaMarr Woodley said. "... It definitely gives you encouragement when you see guys play your position, doing some of the things that you do. You kind of get an idea in the end that, 'I can do the same thing they've done.'"


But to be fair to Maisel he also says this:

It should be noted that Booty didn't fall apart against the Bruins. He completed 23-of-39 passes for 274 yards. His one interception came because of a remarkable physical effort by linebacker Eric McNeal, who tipped the ball at the line, pirouetted and dived under the ball at the UCLA 20 with 1:10 to play.

"In one sense, there were some good things about that [game]," Kiffin said of Booty's experience, "going through that and getting back up and still taking us down there at the end.... He still hasn't had what a 'bad quarterback game' is, where a guy throws four picks and it's a disaster."

Still, as Booty said, "We want to get this taste out of our mouths."

Booty has shown that he is big time regardless of what his detractors have said. It's pointless to compare him to Leinart because they are just different. Booty also doesn't have the luxury of some top fight RB's in the backfield that can change the outcome of the game on a dime. You remember 66-19, don't you?

There are a lot of other questions that are out there as well. This is one of the better offenses that Michigan will see outside of Ohio State and after watching what tOSU did to them, I know the game was close at the end but they have some weaknesses also, Michigan will be tested. Michigan Head Coach Lloyd Carr has done a great job this season but he is not above a "Dorellian" moment either as he has laid some eggs in some recent bowl games.

We have our work cut out for us on Monday no doubt about it but so does Michigan. There is no clear-cut winner here and while some will point to Dec. 2nd as a roadmap to victory against SC I would say "not so fast my friend!". There is a lot of football yet to be played.