The last time the USC Trojans and Boston College Eagles met on the college football field, the characters were completely different while the script surprisingly looked rather similar.
For one Pete Carroll was coaching the Trojans in what would be his final game at USC, while true-freshman starter Matt Barkley was finishing up his first season under center to the tune of a 24-13 victory. Following his first season as a true freshman starter, an accomplishment still resting in the history books, the post-Christmas gift was the product of a coaching staff investing in one younger quarterback and building the offense around his skill set.
Fast forward four years and USC football is facing similar constraints following one worst offensive statistical performances in history, according to head coach Lane Kiffin. The game itself did present a share of positives, amongst the bevy of poor series on offense, as the far superior unit will be tested rather differently this week.
What to expect from Boston College:
This years Boston College team has already matched their winning total from last season, following impressive victories over Villanova and Wake Forest to start the season. The Eagles keys towards success have been centered around winning the turnover battle, one in which they currently rank inside the top ten in the nation.
That being said, the Trojans rough-and-tumble defense will be looking to flip the tide on that recent success starting up the middle with Leonard Williams and George Uko who have been doing an outstanding job clogging up the middle. Granted Hawaii and WSU are by no means rushing Goliath's, but the Trojans post the best rushing yards against (0.57 YPC) average in all of college football through two weeks of the season.
USC will be tasked with the assignment of slowing down the inspiring rusher Andre Williams in the Eagles backfield. "I'm a big running back, I'm 230 pounds, and I just have to be true to myself and realize that I can punish people, I can wear down the defense, and that's just the role I'm gonna embrace," Williams told ESPN last week.
The Trojans understand that their rush defense will be put squarely to the test this week in what should be the most physical game of the season to this point. While the offense remains in flux, the defensive front seven has been rock solid, and should enjoy a classic battle of strength versus strength on Saturday afternoon.
DEFENSE ATTACK, GET THE BALL BACK:
USC's defense currently is first nationally in sacks (5.5, first in Pac-12) and rushing defense (15.0, first in Pac-12), third in interceptions (6, first in Pac-12) and tackles for loss (10.0, second in Pac-12), 11th in total defense (226.5, second in Pac-12) among many top-notched categories through the first two weeks of the season.
Nuggets and factoids for Saturday:
- Former USC CB Will Poole (2003) previously played at Boston College (he was a starter there in 2000) and also was on the Eagles' basketball team. And only two USC lettermen have ever come from the state of Massachusetts in C Dave Morgan (1959-61) from Natick HS, and All-American LB Lofa Tatupu (2003-04) from Plainville.
- Boston College will be making just its sixth trip to the state of California and only its second visit to Los Angeles. The Eagles last three trips to California were for the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco recently with losses against USC (24-13) in 2009 and then two years later against Nevada (20-13 loss) in 2011.
CONGRATS USC SPORTS INFORMATION DEPARTMENT FOR CONNECTING THE USC/BC DOTS:
The genesis of the USC-Boston College football series can be traced to Jeff Keith, a one-time recipient of a Swim With Mike scholarship at USC. Keith, who ran across the United States in 1984 on an artificial leg after losing his right leg to cancer, played a large part in matching USC, where he was a graduate student in the late 80s, with his undergraduate alma mater, Boston College, in a football game.
After he finished his run, Keith heard that then-USC athletic director Mike McGee was looking for an opponent to fill open dates in 1987 and 1988. A former BC lacrosse goalie, Keith contacted Eagle administrators and the dates were set. Since 1981, the Swim With Mike swim-a-thon fundraiser has raised $13.2 million for the Physically Challenged Athletes Scholarship Fund at USC to provide 141 scholarships to USC and 67 other universities from New York to Hawaii for athletes who have overcome life-challenging accidents or illnesses. Keith now lives on the East Coast.