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Trojans show how they might


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Instant Analysis - Notre Dame vs. USC

If only the AP voters and Coaches read CFN...

(emphasis below is mine)

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Beyond the game itself, one has to weigh in on this game relative to the BCS and, more specifically, the perceived quality of USC.

First, what will happen in the polls as a matter of analysis? In all likelihood, the extent of USC’s impressiveness in the second half will create minimal to no movement. Had the game ended with a 20-10 score or something in that area, there would have been real movement, with Auburn benefiting a lot and Oklahoma a little.

But secondly, from a more opinion-based perspective, what OUGHT to happen?

All three teams are essentially even, and all of them deserve to play for the national title. That much is pretty clear in the eyes of most sensible football people. Once again, trying to pretend that there really is any genuine differentiation among Auburn, OU and USC is a load of manure. These are three equals, one of which is going to get shafted big-time, regardless of who that team is.

But if you put the gun to the proverbial head, a few things do come to light after this game between the Trojans and Irish: first, Oklahoma is the team that’s especially hard to place in the top three.

If anything, this game showed why Auburn is better than USC (again, when you put a gun to the head and force a prediction). Given that the Trojans got beaten up in the trenches for a quarter and a half, it seems reasonable to conclude that Auburn could ram the ball down USC’s throat to even greater effect. Moreover, the clear sluggishness that seems to persistently dog the Trojans in the first half of just about every game is something that would put them in a hole against an Auburn team that can throw deep in addition to running the ball, and which has a superior secondary (vastly superior) to Notre Dame. At this point, Auburn seems to be a squad that would match up very favorably with the Trojans. With OU, one isn’t so sure, because the Sooners’ secondary could be exploited by Matt Leinart.

The second point about this game is this: if you come out like gangbusters, you can get the jump on USC and make the Trojans one-dimensional. Notre Dame outplayed USC in the first 20 minutes, but could only gain a one-possession lead. If Auburn, OU or any team could get a 14-0 lead on the Trojans early on, one has to wonder if USC could develop the same freight train of momentum it always seems to find in the second half of games. The very reason why USC is able to come back in the second half is that it never falls behind by too many points in the first half. By maintaining some contact (as opposed to trailing by big margins), USC and Norm Chow still have their entire playbook intact, and it’s this reality that enables the Trojans to play with—and ultimately succeed with—their full assortment of offensive weapons. But if anyone could hang 14-21 points on USC in the first half, Leinart would suddenly become a sitting duck, and Reggie Bush would lose his dynamism. If you’re going to get USC, get ‘em early.

Third, USC might be able to match up well on defense against both OU and Auburn because, unlike Notre Dame on Saturday, the Sooners and Tigers use lots of five and seven-step drops with Jason White and Jason Campbell. Part of what frustrated the Trojans early on against the Irish was the quick release of Brady Quinn on three-step drops that neutralized USC’s pass rush. If you’re looking for an edge that USC might possess against its two competitors for the BCS title game, that would be one such edge.

Fourth and finally, USC—in tandem with Auburn—possesses an edge that Oklahoma lacks: quality tight end play. As the years go by, the name of Trent Smith casts an increasingly longer shadow over the Sooner program. The tight end on OU’s 2000 national title team is perhaps the most valuable yet least appreciated player in all of college football over the past five years, because his security-blanket pass catching presence is the one thing OU lacks. Yet, Cooper Wallace of Auburn and—as seen on Saturday against Notre Dame—both Alex Holmes and Dominique Byrd of USC, give their teams a huge X-and-O edge on offense.

Throw USC, Auburn and OU around, and you get very little differentiation. But if you wanted to speculate on matchups in the BCS title game, you at least got a much clearer idea of what to look for… at least, if you’re a lucky fan of a team that doesn’t get screwed next Saturday night.

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That's a nice editorial that makes for some interesting discussion but USC looked pretty tough from what I saw last night. We've been burned on the big pass play this season, so why couldn't USC do it to us too?

Just food for thought...no, really I'm just trying to get in the right frame of mind for when we get the ultimate shaft in the end. :hmm:

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