Is there any top ten team in the country or any BCS team for that matter that wouldnít trade schedules with USC? (Note the Big East is not included in my definition of BCS conferences.) The consensus seems to be USCís two toughest games are at Arizona State and at Oregon. For those of you keeping score, Oregon was 5 Ė 6 last year. Personally, Iíd say Arizona State is the best team on USCís schedule. They return 17 starters, throttled Iowa, and their 3 losses were all on the road at USC, at Cal, and at rival Arizona. However, USC beat them 45 Ė 7 last year, and USC is a better team in í05. The bottom line is barring some unforeseen disaster, USC has no excuse for not winning every game this year.
Would Miami trade Florida State for Oregon and the ACC Championship game for Arizona State? How Ďbout trading Virgina Tech for a Cal team that returns a total of 8 starters? Or Texas, would they take Oregon, Cal, Arizona State, and the next least pathetic team on USCís schedule for Oklahoma, Ohio State, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech. I forgot Texas also potentially has the Big 12 Championship game. By the way, Oklahoma and Texas Tech demolished Oregon and Cal last year.
Since pre-season 2004, I always felt that in 2005 USC would actually deserve the publicity it received last year. USCís 2004 team was good, but how do we really know how good they were. The media built up USC as some unstoppable gauntlet despite some key personnel losses on both offense and defense.
In fact their 2004 regular season accomplishments were relatively unimpressive. If they are judged solely on the Orange Bowl, they were outstanding, but what about the other 11 games? They beat Virginia Tech in a close game heavily influenced by a penalty after VPI lost arguably their best defensive player to injury. This was also before VPI truly found its identity. Stanford, Oregon State, and UCLA all nearly beat USC. The UCLA game also included a dubious call that gave USC the win. And of course there is the Cal game where USC was outgained 2:1 and allowed Aaron Rogers to tie the all-time NCAA completion record at 23 consecutive. Thatís not exactly stellar defense.
Now, when you look more closely at 2005, they have a number of questions to answer that many people are again ignoring. They lost 6 starters on defense to graduation or the NFL plus an additional 2 projected defensive starters for other reasons Ė including crybaby Manuel Wright. On offense, the talent is certainly there, but they replaced a coaching legend with a couple of yes men. Chowís not calling the plays this year. And did everyone forget that Leinart had elbow surgery on his throwing arm? Itís probably not an issue, but who knows.
The bottom line is this. Letís not all anoint USC as national champions before they play a game. And letís not give them a free pass this year for repeats of games like VPI, Stanford, Cal, Oregon St., and UCLA. Letís remember they have a joke of a schedule compared to all the other big boys, and if they want to earn the respect their being given, they need to have clear cut wins rather than a bunch of lucky breaks against bad teams.
Here are a pair of other USC articles worth readingÖ
Well Matt got it right, for the most part. I donít hear many Tiger fans talking how LSU is going to walk through our schedule. However, Mattís assertion that if USC and LSU switched schedules, the Trojans would likely be in for a loss, is right on target. Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, and the SEC Championship game each pose a greater challenge than anything the Trojans face.
Stewart seems to think that USCís biggest challenge is keeping all its players happy. Theyíre so good theyíll win all their games if they really want to.