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Does Syracuse have any chance to beat USC?
Let’s look at the positives first:
- These aren’t your older cousin’s USC Trojans. These are not the Bush/Leinart Trojans. Heck, they’re not even ranked right now, let alone ranked in the Top 10. Yes, they have Matt Barkley (a future high NFL draft pick). But, the glitz and glamor surrounding this program are gone. An NCAA scandal (involving Mr. Bush and his Heisman trophy) sapped the recruiting privileges of the school for a while and they’re currently in the second year of a two-year ban from bowl games. So, the probation and sanctions placed upon them have taken away some of the appeal of the school in the eyes of potential recruits. Also, gone is the charm of Pete Carroll, replaced by the greasiness of Lane Kiffin at head coach. And while the sanctions were passed down on USC because of actions taken during Carroll’s tenure, Kiffin has left each school he’s been at worse than when he got there.
- While there is some obvious individual talent on the USC roster, they’re clearly not stacked like they used to be. In two games, they have outscored their opponents (Minnesota and Utah) by a total of 16 points. That’s certainly not the blowout-type victories we’re used to seeing from USC.
- One of the main problems on the field thus far for the Orange has been the pass defense. Things were way too easy for Wake Forest through the air in the season opener, with the Demon Deacons getting over 300 yards in the passing game. And, if there is one thing to focus on with the Trojans, it’s the passing attack. Matt Barkley has a favorite target and his name is Robert Woods. Woods hauled in 18 catches for 175 yards and three touchowns in the opener against Minnesota and had another 100-yard game against Utah. With the way the secondary has performed this season, look for Barkley to be able to pick apart the SU defense.
- The USC defense is a notch above anything SU has seen this season. Size, speed, athleticism…all of it will be tough to handle for an offense that is still looking to find its stride a bit. The key will be trying to get Antwon Bailey going, as he managed just 47 yards on the ground against Rhode Island. Both Wake Forest and Rhode Island used a 4-4 defense to try to limit the run. So maybe the Orange will have more success against a more traditional defense.
Overall, I’m interested to see how Syracuse will handle a cross-country game against a big-name, non-conference opponent. The two teams haven’t played each other in 21 years when Mikhail Marinovich’s brother, Todd, was the quarterback for the Trojans. But, thanks to Darryl Gross’ ties (USC is his former employer), the two teams will meet in the L.A. Coliseum on Saturday night. If this was five or six years ago, the Orange would have no chance. This year, though, I can see the Orange hanging around for a while. But, I don’t see them being able to bring back a win from California this weekend.
Matt Dagostino currently works as an on-air talent and producer for Turner Sports in Atlanta. Among his responsibilities are voicing over highlights for NCAA.com, NBA.com, WNBA.com, and PGA.com. He has also served as an associate producer for TNT’s coverage of the NBA Playoffs and TBS’s coverage of the MLB Postseason. Matt also has experience as a minor league baseball play-by-play announcer and as a PA announcer in D-I college athletics.