Week #2: USC – Open Thread

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. The Buckeyes are major big-game chokers. They need to win this game like Charlie needed that golden ticket. The reputation of OSU as a big-time program rests firmly on the shoulders of this game. The reputation of the Big Ten as a premier conference rests on the outcome of this game (thanks a lot, rest of the Big Ten for scheduling Towson and Eastern Illinois). Jim Tressel can’t win the big game. Hopefully you’ve already skipped on to the next paragraph. But I could go on with the hyperbole.

At what point does all this become a self-fulfilling prophecy? We’ve been hearing it for the past couple of years. We got it, thanks. Our beloved team stinks and should be playing in the Ohio Valley Conference. Got it. Please move on.

But we still play the game, right? The outcome hasn’t been decided, right? I didn’t think so. So let’s pretend that either team has a chance to win and discuss some reasons why either team could win.

Why USC will win

Offensive Line – Let’s start here. It’s good. It’s real good. Besides passing the look test, USC’s offensive line has been consistent and is heralded as one of the best in the country. If it can handle OSU’s pass rush earlier, run block consistently and assert itself at will, USC will control the clock, run at will and handle the Buckeyes.

Keeping Barkley upright will be their number one priority and if Ohio State can’t get to the QB early, he’s going to gain confidence and that spells DOOM with a capital D-O-O-M. The Trojan Offensive Line is one of the many reasons of their frustratingly consistent success and a source of me waking up in a cold sweat.

Running Backs Galore – You may have heard: USC has a couple decent running backs. They’re all talented, sure, but what’s really scary is how each one brings a different look to bear in the backfield. While McKnight will most likely be the workhorse, we’ll see a little of everyone.

Pete Carroll – I list Pete Carroll here, but maybe I should have listed this one under “attitude.” USC always looks calmer, plays looser and seems to be having more fun than anyone else (playing in Southern California probably has something to do with that). Even when they lose, no one seems to shrug it off more easily than USC.

I’d point to Pete Carroll being one of the biggest reasons for this. Besides exuding all the characteristics above, he just seems to instill the confidence and swagger so many teams lack. Must have been that time he spent in Columbus.

Why Ohio State will win

Defensive variety – Ohio State has a chance if it can switch up its defensive looks with new alignments, disguising blitzes and coverages and keep fresh legs on the field. There has been talk that we will see some 3-4 looks, with Nathan Williams and Thaddeus Maximus at the ends. I would love to see Cameron Heyward at the nose. I would assume we would see Etienne Sabino in on those looks. At least that’s my hope. I would expect blitzes galore out of that set.

Besides throwing Barkley off his game, this could give the Buckeye D some needed confidence and momentum. It could also cover some deficiencies we know exist in the defensive backfield. Mixing up looks will force sound assignment football. Something that was lacking in the Navy game.

Freshman QB + a rockin’ ‘Shoe = disaster? – It’s been quoted before, but recall what Vince Young said about playing in the Horseshoe at night. I was at that game, I can attest to how loud it was. It was so loud that you couldn’t think enough to realize you couldn’t hear yourself think. It was insane. I expect it to be just as loud. And so Matt Barkley can think we’re “cheering for him” but he would be sorely mistaken. It will have an effect on his pysche.

It may not last all four quarters, but if it gets to him early and he makes a mistake or twenty, it could swing everything in the Buckeyes’ favor.

Terrelle – And yes, we save the best for last. He came in last year’s game, wet behind the ears and still made some impressive looking plays. He is the game changer here. Not Matt Barkley’s freshmanness. Not Joe McKnight and the backs that never end. It’s Terrelle Pryor’s arms and Terrelle Pryor’s legs (don’t read this unless you want to get really excited). They couldn’t handle Vince Young in 2005, Dennis Dixon in 2007. How about Terrelle Pryor in 2009.

Still want more? Your first stop should always be Eleven Warriors (Even though it hurts my heart that Alex didn’t pick the Buckeyes to win). Buckeye Planet has data. They always have data. So does The Gerd. We Still Will Always Have Tempe looks at USC’s defense. Trojan Football Analysis breaks down the match-ups in excruciating detail. Just click and keep scrolling.

So there you have it. USC comes in with confidence. OSU has redemption on its mind. Let’s play some football.

So now comes the most important part. Predictions. We have a copy of 100 Things Buckeyes Fans Should Know & Do Before They Dieto give away to the commenter who gets closest to the final score. Predict away:

Final score?
How many times is Barkley sacked? Who sacks him first?
What does Pryor have on his eye-black?
Will Mark May apologize when the Buckeyes win?

el Kaiser’s predictions
Final score: OSU 30 USC 28
Barkley sacked: 3 times, firstly by one Brian Rolle
Pryor’s eye-black: “Suck it” and “May”
Mark May will spontaneously combust when the Buckeyes win

Sylvester Yon-Rambo’s predictions
Final score: OSU 23 USC 12
Barkley sacked: 2 times, 1st by him tripping on his own feet going backwards
Pryor’s eye-black: “I HEART” and “PUPPIES”
Who is this Mark May you speak of? I miss Trev Alberts FTW lol seriously I dont miss him lol

sportsMonkey’s predictions
Final score: OSU 26 USC 23, in OT (tied 20-20 at end of regulation)
Barkley sacked: 1 time officially, by Thaddeus Maximus. However, will be chased out of sideline for a few unofficial negative yard rushing attempts.
Pryor’s eye-black: “35” and “3”
Mark May will apologize with complete insincerity if Bucks win; will earn FCC violation for obscene act with a Barkley doll if USC wins

Additional sportsMonkey thoughts: I think the difference will be that Pryor will be given the responsibility to win with his hands and feet, while Carroll will not expect the same of his QB, instead placing that same responsibility on the shoulders of his O-line leadership. As a result, I think that USC will move the ball more patiently and consistently, while OSU’s success may rely on more dramatic efforts. (Dramatic efforts like TP’s practically indefensible fade route TD against Texas… Anyone else wonder REALLY why Bauserman was played in the 2nd quarter last week? USC’s cornerbacks are on the small side of average, ranging from 5’10” to 6’1″…)

Anyway, I see the offenses being equally handicapped… USC’s freshman QB issues should offset OSU’s offensive coordination & line issues. It might come down to punts and field goals, which favors the Buckeyes. Trojan FG kicker Jordan Congdon has mediocre accuracy and a notoriously weak leg – his career long is 41 yards. Back at Nebraska in 2006, he had worsened to the point where the coaches once famously refused to allow him to try a 45 yard attempt – even with the wind at their back. Pettrey, is, well, Pettrey. His career long is 54 yards, and inside 50 yards, he has literally hit it 9 out of every 10 times. USC also has a mediocre punter in Billy O’Malley, a walk-on who averaged only 34.7 yards in eight punts last week. If the game comes down to field position and field goals, the Buckeyes win.


  1. I am sensing your sarcasm in this post.

    However, I agree with your sentiments and if USC thinks that they are just going to be able to walk in here an bully this team around…whoa…are they going to be in for surprise.

  2. There is certainly a little sarcasm, but in situations like this, sarcasm and optimism look similiar.

    I’m not sure if USC thinks they can bully OSU, but most pundits and talking heads sure think they will.

  3. Even though MotSaG Associates are ineligible for such a fine reward, I will put my predictions down…

    Final score?

    ***34-24 Good Guys in Scarlet

    How many times is Barkley sacked? Who sacks him first?

    ***3 Times. Rolle gets him first.

    What does Pryor have on his eye-black?

    ***”Blame Canada”

    Will Mark May apologize when the Buckeyes win?

    ***He will apologize to USC for having to travel and play in the Horseshoe with a freshman quarterback. No way does that ‘sumbitch’ will ever apologize to OSU…NEVAHHHH!!!

  4. Final score: OSU-27 USC-20

    How many times is Barkley sacked: 3 times-but they in big spots.

    Who sacks him first: Heyward

    What does Pryor have on his eye-black: Nothing, along with every other Buckeye

    Will Mark May apologize when the Buckeyes win: No-there is a better chance of a monkey coming out of my ass.

  5. Final Score: I can read this situation and will thus go homer accordingly: OSU 8-0 USC (all safeties)

    How many times is Barkley sacked: 5.

    Who sacks him first: Maximus (what a freakin’ awesome name).

    What does Pryor have on his eye-black: Red and silver “O”s.

    Will Mark May apologize when the Buckeyes win: One of the advantages of living in Japan is that I can truthfully say, “Mark May who?” Guys with perfect hair who wear prim glasses and look like Eurotrash Die Hard terrorists never apologize.

  6. It kills me to do this, but I need to protect my tender psyche.
    OSU-10, USC-21
    Barkley sacked 3 times
    Rolle gets first sack
    Frankly, I don’t believe that Mark May actually believes the things that leave his mouth. He is paid an obscene amount of money to say things that increase ratings. If only someone would pay me money to say crazy, irrational gibberish on national TV!

  7. Creed and I are getting pumped up for the game reading the blog, while Creed is clad in his “State” jersey.

    I was very proud of him as this morning, I was tired so giving him choices of what shirt to wear, including dinosaurs and monsters, but he kept saying no, until finally he said “I want State shirt.” A proud moment for me.

  8. And p.s.

    OSU-17 USC-14


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