USC placed on upset alert

college football, USC, Matt Barkley
How does the media reward a program for overcoming a hostile road environment to come from behind and topple a top ten team?  They place them on upset alert the following week.  Such is the case for the third ranked Trojans and their journey to Seattle.  After a thrilling victory over Ohio State, some sources believe a now deflated team is set up to be ambushed by former members of their coaching staff.

“There are several intangible factors working against USC this week, but forget them for a second. Let’s talk Xs and Os. Here’s the truth: Washington was better than LSU but lost because of an interception return for TD and because of a fumble inside the LSU 5. The scoreboard said otherwise and now the Huskies are nearly three-TD underdogs on one of the best home fields in the game. Now to the intangibles — 1. There’s no way USC can get “up” again after last week. 2. Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian and DC Nick Holt came from USC and know exactly what they’re up against. 3. Jake Locker, who is probably the best intangible in the game. Locker may be able to take advantage of the Trojans in ways Terrell Pryor did not. OK, that’s it for the intangibles. Now throw in the fact that QB Matt Barkley probably won’t play and safety Taylor Mays is nursing a bad knee. This is going to be way more of a test than anybody expects”.–Fox Sports

Fox Sports isn’t alone in their thinking.  ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit has also singled out USC as an upset target  for week three.  He, along with Amy Sancetta of the Associated Press, point to an unsettled quarterback situation as a contributing factor to the alert status.  But realistically, quarterback uncertainty clouded the Trojans before the season ever kicked off.  Aaron Corp is scheduled to start this Saturday, replacing the injured Matt Barkley.  Where they view it as a No. 2 stepping in to replace a starter, I see it as a starter regaining his position.

Only an injury kept Aaron Corp from opening the season.  And though Matt Barkley has directed the offense in the first two games, he still wasn’t allowed to be a quarterback, as much as he was being allowed time to learn the offense through conservatism.  The inclusion of Aaron Corp is hardly a downgrade at the position.

Another finger points at safety Taylor Mays.  Pete Carroll has chosen rest for the All American, after he suffered a knee sprain last week.  Mays is not incapable of performing, and the decision shows faith in others to step in and make the necessary plays to secure victory.

With the third finger, I may be in agreement.  If you look at the Trojans under Pete Carroll, you’ll find a pattern of under achievement that is prevalent after big victories.  After last year’s waxing of Ohio State, the deflated Trojans played one of the worst halves of the season, eventually allowing the fans in Corvallis to storm the field.  John David Booty’s Trojans rolled through games against Arkansas and Nebraska, then narrowly escaped lowly Washington, before being upended in the Coliseum by Stanford.

Sarkisian’s knowledge of USC’s tendencies is a definite factor, but in the end, as seen against Ohio State, talent will overcome predictability.  If there is an upset this weekend, lack of motivation may play the more prominent role.  Just as the fans and media won’t view Washington and Ohio State as equals, the same can be said of the players.  Playing down to your opponent has been the main ingredient for failure, and let’s just hope it has been excluded from the Washington game recipe.

Fight On!

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~ by Anthony on September 18, 2009.

3 Responses to “USC placed on upset alert”

  1. Corp will lead us to a W.

  2. I think your post was just proven mostly wrong. USC was definitely capable of being upset by a resurgent UW and for once the national media called it correctly, not as you thought, wrong.

    USC is the more talented team, no doubt, but the question was by how much? Not as much as you thought.

  3. “Talent will overcome predicability.”? Prescient comment indeed.

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