There are really only two things that will concern me about tonight's game in Columbus...
Matt Barkley's "inexperience" and the "noise".
These two walk hand in hand. This will Barkley's First Start on the road in one of the more raucous venues in college football. He says he won't be rattled but you can never know. I have heard stories of some of things that tOSU fans say to their opponent and their respective fans so I would expect a healthy dose of disparaging remarks when SC takes the field.
There is no question that Ohio State is passionate about their football...afterall there isn't much else to do in Columbus (unless you like Hockey) so this is the type of game that they live for...and their passion runs deep.
But for USC it is just another game...that is how Pete Carroll has always prepared his teams...it doesn't matter who the opposing team is the preparation is the same. SC had to deal with the fans at Nebraska, Auburn, Arkansas, Oklahoma (MNC) and Notre Dame every year. This game of course is little more special for Pete Carroll because of his special relationship with Columbus...
Carroll was a 28-year-old secondary coach on Earl Bruce's 1979 Ohio State staff. After the Buckeyes lost to USC in the 1980 Rose Bowl, Carroll left for North Carolina State.
So Friday's visit to the Horseshoe for the Trojans' typically playful stadium walk-through stirred memories.
Carroll recalled looking out his office window three decades ago and seeing former Ohio State coach Woody Hayes walking across the street.
"I went running out there across the parking lot to catch him and intercept him and kind of introduce myself and talk to him for the first time -- just like a little kid, man, which I was at the time," Carroll said. "That was very cool to come back. . . . It's exciting to be here."
You can actually see Carroll's remarks in this video from The O Zone which also has a nice video of the yesterday's walk through.
Regardless of how special this return trip to Columbus is this trip is all business...
There might be plenty of skeptics over whether the eighth-ranked Buckeyes can actually beat the third-ranked Trojans today, but Carroll is being all business even if he is confident in the Trojans' chances.
"I've learned in big games it's not the team that plays better than usual who wins, but the team that plays its normal game," Carroll said. "The team that tries harder usually plays worse than it normally does."
Last week Carroll warned his veteran players that the freshmen playing their first game would be like taking their little brother to the circus for the first time.
Today, the entire Trojans team visits the circus, as the Horseshoe holds more than 105,000 fans that bring a raucous reputation.
Well, like said some on this team have been to other circuses in the past...
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Here is a nice write-up by by Steve Bisheff in the NYT's The Quad about Pete Carroll's and the quarterback position...
You could say Carroll is infatuated with quarterbacks. You could also say he is especially good at picking the right player to play the position. So far at U.S.C., he has had Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, both of whom won the Heisman Trophy. They were followed by John David Booty and Mark Sanchez, who each enjoyed overwhelming success and won Rose Bowl Most Valuable Player awards.
Now Carroll has his most intriguing and controversial quarterback yet: Matt Barkley, the first true freshman to start at the position in U.S.C. history. Barkley was the Gatorade prep player of the year as a junior at Mater Dei, the same high school that produced Leinart. Barkley enrolled early at U.S.C. so he could participate in spring drills and compete for the starting job vacated when Sanchez stunned everyone at the school, including Carroll, by leaving early for the N.F.L. When Aaron Corp, the early frontrunner for the starting job, cracked a fibula on the third day of fall practice, Carroll never hesitated.He pounced on the opportunity to insert Barkley as the starter, quickly moving him ahead of Mitch Mustain, the Arkansas transfer who had been something of a disappointment. Even after Corp returned and seemed close to 100 percent physically, Carroll didn’t waver. The week before the season opener against San Jose State, he announced, much to everyone’s surprise, that Barkley would be U.S.C.’s quarterback.
So far Pete Carroll's instinct with his QB's has proven to be spot on with the success his QB's have enjoyed. There is also a nice excerpt from Bisheff's new book at the end of this piece.
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Here is Carson Palmer's take on tonights game on yesterdays Petros and Money Show...
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Who will win?
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I am heading into to the city for a seminar today but I will be back inplenty of time to get the game thread up...