Trojans edge Wahoos in flag flying affair

USC entered its home opener as a 21-point favorite against visiting Virginia. It exits with a 17-14 victory, after providing more proof of a work in progress. In a game sloppily played by both teams, the Trojans were the fortunate scoreboard victors on Saturday. But appearing anything but dominant, they certainly didn’t have the look of a 16th ranked program, and were quickly lowered two places (18) in the most recent AP Poll.

They say “a win is a win”, and you take it and move on to the next. In a season where style points are meaningless, just finishing a game with more than your opponent is sufficed. But in Southern California, we have been spoiled by the dominance of years past, especially against out of conference competitors, and even more on our home field.

Last week’s Hawaiian escape was excused by most, though the Associated Press dropped USC two spots in the polls for the narrow victory. But Virginia in a 3-point loss became an ACC bright spot, when you consider how the rest of the conference fared.

Virginia Tech was inexplicably beaten in Blacksburg by James Madison. Georgia Tech was upset by the Jayhawks, who were coming off a lower division mishap of their own. ACC favorites Miami and Florida State were embarrassed in road games to Ohio State and Oklahoma. And then you have the Saturday savior, the Wahoos, picked to finish last in conference, traveling across the country to push mighty USC to the brink of humiliation.

“[That’s] probably the most miserable 2-0 locker room I’ve ever been in,” Kiffin said. “Which is good. Our players understand we have to play much better. … but we’re extremely disappointed with our performance.”–AP

Penalties were the theme in this contest, with both teams combining for 22 flags and 241 penalized yards. This paved the way for an opening half that saw no scores for either team until the clock dipped beneath four minutes in the second quarter. Two Matt Barkley touchdown passes and a Robert Payne touchdown run gave us a 14-7 halftime score that wasn’t indicative of the play on the field. USC broke for intermission having accumulated more penalized yards than yards rushing.

USC entered camp with a new emphasis on discipline, and it has yet to carry over to the playing field. The Trojans have been flagged 24 times in the first two games, and each resulted in nail biting victories that should have been otherwise. The good news is that their early opponents, Hawaii and Virginia, lacked the defense (Warriors) and offense (Cavaliers) to capitalize on the mental errors. But playing more balanced programs, like those soon to arrive in conference, may bring about a different result, if they cannot rid themselves of the numerous errors in judgment.

Two games are in the books. USC will now prepare for Minnesota on Saturday.

Fight On!


~ by Anthony on September 12, 2010.

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