I mean; it can't get any worse than last week, right? Much like Lane Kiffin and the rumored players only meeting, I'm tempted to pretend last week just didn’t happen. Instead I';m going to tell you why *gulp* even if the offense only improves marginally USC can still walk out of the Coliseum with a victory.
Boston College comes into this game standing at (2-0) having faced Wake Forest and Villanova, not exactly two powerhouse programs. Having put up 24 points both games BC has found some semblance of consistency in its first two games. In their two games the USC defense has allowed just 30 rushing yards total with the opposition running for less than 0.60 yards a carry; leaving Leonard Williams and company with the title of best-run defense in the country.
If Cody Kessler can't capitalize on recently being named the starter and the offense sputters, the defense will once again be in a position to have to carry the team.
It is going to be up to the Trojan defense to jump-start the game. The last time the team was in the Coliseum they ran off to a cascade of boos and fans chanting for Lane Kiffin to be fired. Kiffin is going to get booed when he comes out of the tunnel but if the defense can make a couple of big plays right off the bat the entire game could shift.
As a devout Trojan fan I'm sure you've heard over the past week USC leads the country with 11 sacks on the season. On average, each quarterback sack has lost the opposing team six yards. Aside from forcing numerous turnovers this is how the defense can lead the team to a win even if the offense continues to struggle.
It may not be pretty and it may not be what Trojan fans want but playing the field position game is what you have to do when the offense isn't rolling. The Trojan defense has twenty tackles for loss over the past two weeks and while the Boston College line may be better than its Washington State counterpart, the talent across the front seven for USC is overwhelming for nearly any opponent.
This game is going to come down to the tone the USC defense sets right off the bat. If Boston College comes out and runs the ball down the field you are going to hear the boo birds early. However, if the Trojans can come out and get a stop on the first drive the offense can come out without any added pressure. No matter how the defense performs Cody Kessler and the offense are under pressure to perform better than last week. If the defense doesn't manage to shut the Eagles down that pressure only intensifies.
Most people are going to tell you this game is about Coach Kiffin's play calling and how Kessler reacts to officially being named the starter. Both of those are in fact crucial components to the game this weekend, just not the most crucial. When teams are struggling it is up to the stronger side of the ball to carry them through it. When the New England Patriots are struggling on defense it is up to Tom Brady to up his level of play until the defense figures it out. USC faces the same situation this weekend.
The offense is struggling (something more fitting of that other school that claims itself as USC) and the defense is going to have to step up until their teammates figure it out. Saturday is going to be an ugly, defensive field position battle. Lucky for USC, they have the defense to pacify the Coliseum crowd and win just that kind of game.