Friday, September 7, 2012

Week 2: USC at Syracuse

            It’s probably not a stretch to say that USC’s intrasquad practices were more competitive than the Hawaii game last Saturday. I guess some semblance of order has been restored. In 2009, when Hawaii played USC, the game was surprisingly competitive. In 2012, when Hawaii played USC, the game was unsurprisingly uncompetitive. I am not quite sure why Syracuse felt the need to schedule this home and home with USC. Maybe they looked around their sorry conference and realized they would not truly be challenged without a marquee opponent. Last year when the two teams met in Los Angeles, USC was victorious by three touchdowns. Anything less than that margin of victory will have Lane Kiffin giving his usual smug remarks at a press conference.

Why to be Excited?

            On the Opening telecast of the 2012 NFL season, Al Michaels brought up a stunning statistic. Three of the last four super bowls have involved a team dead last in rushing. I bring up this point only to illustrate the modern day trend of innovative passing offenses in leagues that are heavily favored toward the quarterback. If you are a passing game aficionado, there probably is not another game this weekend that will pique your interest more than USC-Syracuse. Yes, Syracuse lost last week but Syracuse still put up 41 points and Ryan Nassib threw the ball 68 times. I certainly would not rule out the quarterbacks combining for something silly like 800 yards passing and 8 tds. For USC fans out there, I fully expect Matt Barkley to account for more than half of those TDs.

Why to be Grouchy?

            This is an excellent test for a USC defense that many believe could cost its program a national championship. As mentioned before, stopping Doug Marrone’s offense is no easy task. Syracuse could easily instill some additional doubt in the growing number of Alabama enthusiasts.

What to Watch For?

            For all the attention given to the Silas Redd affair and the dynamic tailback duo he formed with Curtis McNeal, the running game was a disappointment last week. Lane Kiffin knows the program’s moneymaker is Matt Barkley’s right arm and he is not worried about the passing game chemistry. Look for Kiffin to set the tone early and often on the ground.

The Prediction:

            This line will be written many times this year, but USC will easily win this game. The offense should not break a sweat in putting up 500 yards of total offense. Look for Syracuse to keep the game interesting for a little over a quarter, but by halftime keep a wandering eye on the other games. There will probably be more compelling television out there.

USC 52, Syracuse 21

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