Pete Carroll says that he treats every game the same way...no one game is bigger than another when he preps the team from week to week. Many fans don't buy that, we all know the players don't, they have access to the same things we see and read so it is easy to see how the press and new media can play up any particular game..
I am not really surprised that there are some out there that are picking Oregon over USC this Saturday.
I think a lot of that comes from USC letting Notre Dame and Oregon St. back into the game in the second half the past two weeks. USC had some big leads and either the defense took their foot off the gas or they simply decided to mail it in as the game moved into the later stages.
Disconcerting to say the least. Especially with all this talent.
It is hard to know that is. It is easy to say that these are 18,19 and 20 year-old kids so anything is possible, but SC has always been one of the most prepared teams in the country.
Playing Notre Dame has become less interesting the past few seasons simply because ND just wasn't very good. Sure, ND gave us a good game at South Bend two weeks ago but with all of these great recruiting classes that Charlie Weis has put together he still hasn't coached them up to make the games competitive. Oregon St. has become one of those teams that now seems to give SC their best game. I guess you could call it a new rivalry and we know Mike Riley can coach but he isn't on Pete Carroll's level of success...yet.
I am really not worried...I seldome try to over analyze a game and this one is no different...if SC does what they have done in the past and not let teams back in the game then they should win. It won't be a blow out but it should be a win. I am not worried about the noise...Barkley should be fine. I know Ducks fans are already trying to say that it doesn't matter what Barkley saw in Columbus, Berkley or South Bend they all say Autzen is worse. Well, Barkley has done fine in those venues so I am not concerned about how he will do in Autzen. If it becomes a problem then so be it but until we see him melt down in Autzen I will go with what what I have already seen.
Oregon is a different story. They play us tough up in Eugene. It is a crazy atmosphere to say the least and when they beat USC in 2007 with Mark Sanchez at the helm Oregon was on their way to big things until Dennis Dixon went down with a knee injury. It all fell apart after that
But make no mistake this team knows when to turn it on.They may look lack-luster in some games this season but they have gotten it done in hostile environments in the past.
Sure, Oregon (6-1, 4-0) is in first place and hasn't lost since a season-opening setback at Boise State. Sure, ESPN's "College GameDay" show will be in Eugene. Sure, the winner will gain the inside track to the conference title.
But these kinds of high-stakes matchups are old hat to the Trojans (6-1, 3-1), who have played in 38 ranked-versus-ranked games since Carroll took over in 2001. USC is 34-4 in those games, many of which were played at some of the biggest, most intimidating venues in the country.
In 2003, the sixth-ranked Trojans won at No. 8 Auburn 23-0 before 86,063. In 2007, the top-ranked Trojans won at No. 14 Nebraska 49-31 before 84,959. And this season, then-No. 3 USC won at then-No. 8 Ohio State 18-15 before 106,033.
"We take them on with a real good attitude," Carroll said. "It gives you a chance to perform well -- love being in these settings. Every one of these road challenges, the guys have really looked forward to it and haven't felt like we're at a disadvantage because we're going on the road."
They are old hat. I am comforted in knowing that USC is used to playing "the game of the century" a couple of times a year. It may not make it any easier, but SC will be up for the challenge.
Of course what makes this one nutty is the loud, cramped place that is Autzen Stadium.
The Sporting News has called Autzen the sport's "most intimidating stadium," a claim supported by record-setting decibel readings at ear splitting levels.
"Per square yard, the loudest stadium in the history of the planet," longtime ABC sportscaster Keith Jackson called Autzen.
But the true force of Autzen is perhaps best measured by the Richter scale. Oregon fan Tobiah Moshier became convinced of Autzen's fans' ability to move heaven and earth while watching Oregon's controversial 2006 upset of Oklahoma on television in his Eugene apartment.
"I could feel (the stadium) shaking my apartment walls and rattling my dishes from a half a mile away," Moshier recalled this week. "Every time the Ducks would score, I could feel the rumble and hear the roars as if I were there."
Ducks fans like to believe that Autzen is the craziest of them all. Because if its cramped style there may be some truth to that but they also have some competition with the 'Shoe, the Swamp and even Neyland Stadium. SC may have lost Eugene in 2007 but they got the job done in 2005 after a sluggish first half. So, it is not like it can't be done even with this young team.
The point is Matt Barkley will get some trial by fire but in his eyes it will be nothing more than he has already seen in Columbus, Berkley or South Bend. I get the feeling that Barkley is a lunch-pail kind of guy...he just comes in and does his work like it is just another day at the office.
I am confident that Pete Carroll will have the team ready to play...I don't expect it to be easy but no game ever is. I expect SC to start off slow just to get a feel with what the Ducks will throw at them. I realize that they are 4-0 in the Pac-10 but this Duck team can be beat. Their one loss Boise St. does stand out but though it seems that they have righted the ship. But for as good as they have looked they have done it against some of the bottom tier Pac-10 teams. Wins against UW, WSU Purdue and ucla look good on paper but those teams are struggling.The Ducks beat a Utah team that is doing pretty good in the MWC but lets not get carried away this is a Utes team that is a shadow of their former selves from last season and it is the MWC, I don't care what TCU is doing. And of course they beat Cal which to me is their most impressive win.
Make no mistake, this is a big game even if Pete Carroll tries to make the atmosphere no different than any other game.
This will not be an easy match-up. If SC wins it will be by the slimmest of margins...but if they do the one thing that they need to do this could be a big win. I will have more on that tomorrow.
- - -
Meanwhile, here are some links...
Duck defense looking fine, but USC puts the makeover to the test - Dr. Saturday - NCAAF - Yahoo! Sports
Pete Carroll Press conference 10/27
USC-Oregon is the game to watch in conference -- for some -- latimes.com
Pacific 10 Conference coaches can't wait for Saturday's marquee matchup, USC at Oregon, the game of the week in college football.
Carson York's Oregon football journal: Rivalry victory sweet, but now comes challenge of USC | The Ducks Beat - OregonLive.com
Johnston: USC still leader of the Pac? Ducks disagree - College football- nbcsports.msnbc.com
Johnston: No. 4 USC's road for 8th straight conference title could derail in Eugene.
Gang Green, take 2: Oregon's defense is surprisingly stout - Pac-10 - ESPN
Carroll concerned about USC's second-half defense - College football- nbcsports.msnbc.com
Southern California's defense has been among the nation's most dominant, except in the second half of its last two games — and for coach Pete Carroll, that's not dominant enough.
College Football Live Extra: Oct 27th - ESPN Video - ESPN
ESPN Video: USC vs Oregon preview