2009 Ohio State Edition – 9/13/09

It has barely been 24 hours since that breathtaking conclusion to the USC-Ohio State game, and I am still in a state of disbelief.  I am going to start tonight’s musings with the USC-Ohio State game, and then touch on some other important issues and games.  A long one, tonight, so put your helmet on.  I can not promise that my musings will leave you as satisfied as Pete Carroll’s non-conference coaching record, but I will do my best.
–          USC converted three out of four times on FOURTH down.  That is why we are 2-0 this morning.  Down by 5 points with over 17 minutes left in the game, Carroll went for it on 4th down at the 50 yard line.  We got it.  And my heart began beating again a minute later. Contrast Carroll’s guts with Jim Tressel’s absurd conservatism, and you see everything you need to see to explain the outcome.

– The story of the game until the 4th quarter miracle drive (the Barkley-McKnight drive) was our first down run plays.  I lost count how many times we handed off on first down and watched the back (usually Joe McKnight) get dropped at the line of scrimmage.  Ohio State begged us to throw and we refused to do it.  When we did it, things looked good.  There were a couple dropped balls, and Matt’s first half pick was a killer, but all in all they stuffed the run repeatedly, and we did nothing – nothing whatsoever – to move the ball. Great defense?  Yes.  Too conservative in the play-calling?  Yes.

–          RoJo being out is a bigger factor than I thought.  Our ability to stretch the field without Ronald Johnson is severely limited.  He is the fastest receiver we have, and he gets out there on the run better than anybody and we will be very happy when he is back.

– ESPN’s fantastic Sports Reporters show (6:30 am on Sundays) had a feature this morning on “the incredible quarterbacks USC has had – Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez, and now Matt Barkley …”.  Okay, listen.  People can say whatever they want about John David Booty, but he beat Notre Dame.  He won two Pac-10 titles.  And most importantly, he won two Rose Bowls!  JDB is in our dynasty’s arsenal of fantastic QB’s, and he is on an active NFL roster in his second year out of school, which means he has already had a better pro career than Cade McNown (and he won two more Rose Bowls than Cade did).  The biggest college football lover of all time loves you, JDB!!

– That goal-line stop at the very end of the first quarter was just huge. The miracle drive of Barkley-McKnight late in the game will forever take away from TWO defensive stops that held the Buckeyes to field goals.  These stops won the game for us, period!

– Ohio State’s late half play-calling that gave us the ball back with a minute to go was beyond bizarre (we had no timeouts left).  A third down pass that stopped the clock??  Huh?  Their defense the whole way down the field seemed to indicate that they thought we would just hang tight and see if we could get in field goal range.  They don’t know Carroll.  Even though we ended up having to take a field goal, it changed momentum, put points on, and really was inexplicable.

– My heart sank when Taylor Mays’ knee was rolled over and he went down. It appears he is fine, but we need him, and need him badly!  6’3”, 230 pounds, and a 4.25 forty.  Hits like Ronnie Lott and runs like Deion Sanders.  A perfect specimen at Safety.

– I am so tired of the rap about “well, they beat the good teams, but there is always an Oregon State out there”.  The Stanford loss of 2007 and UCLA fluke of 2006 were disasters, but Oregon State in 2008 was a couple minutes away from a one-loss Pac-10 season and a Rose Bowl berth.  They won their bowl game, and were every bit as formidable as the team Florida lost to (plus, Oregon State beat us in Corvalis; Ole Miss beat Florida in Florida’s own stadium).  Sorry, but that was not a “junk” team we lost to.  We had no business losing to them, but let’s call it right.

– I can not say it better than this: the better team won last night, led by the gutsier coach, a defense that got the stops it needed repeatedly, and an offense that overcame a tough night to win the game with a drive for the ages.  I could not be more proud than I am to be a Trojan.
– With that said, it is very legitimate to worry about the rest of USC’s schedule.  Starting with the Huskies this week, virtually every team left on the schedule besides perhaps the Cougars is a threat.  My own opinion is that Cal on the road is our toughest game to come, but Notre Dame and Oregon (also on the road), along with Oregon State and UCLA at the Coliseum, are anything but cakewalks.  But again, there is only one game right now – Steve Sarkisian’s Huskies up in Seattle.  This game is no joke!!!

– Alabama 20, Florida International 14 – five minutes left in 3rd quarter.  Alabama won big, though!  Jacksonville State 9, Florida State 7, late in the game.  Florida State did end up winning.  Just giving a little intra-game perspective.

– Michigan deserved that win against Notre Dame, though both teams made silly errors.  But the Michigan freshman QB made the second most impressive late-game plays of any freshman playing QB yesterday, and they won the game.  Charlie Weis will not get fired if he beats USC.  If he loses to USC, he needs 10 wins to keep his job.  In other words, unless Charlie plans to beat USC in South Bend this year, he can not lose again all season.  I am totally serious.  9-3 and a loss to SC’ gets him fired.  8-4 and a win over SC’ keeps his job.

– Interesting thought on that Cal/Maryland game now that Maryland needed overtime to beat James Madison.  I mean, if one guy can take them to overtime ???  -)

– Tennessee can not win with that Quarterback, period.  Six picks in two weeks?  Ay yi yi.  I thought UCLA wanted to give them the game with that 3rd down play inside the end zone that resulted in the safety.  But Tennessee was no threat.  I think the LSU/Washington game and the UCLA/Tennessee game have ended the SEC-Pac10 discussion for the year.  That, and USC’s record against the SEC …

– Congratulations to the pre-season rankings folks and Sports Illustrated who had Oklahoma State as #5 in the country before a 45-35 loss to Houston.  The Oilers became the Tennessee Titans years ago and the Astros played where the Bad News Bears played, so this loss to Houston College is really inexplicable.  

– Only four teams in Division 1 football have never, ever, ever played a 1AA team: USC, UCLA, Notre Dame, and Washington.  For SEC schools, scheduling 1AA teams is an annual tradition.  Each of those teams is on USC’s schedule every single season without exception.  All four teams should be commended.  And yes, I did just say something nice about UCLA and Notre Dame in the same sentence.

I really am in a state of shock still 24 hours later.  Tomorrow is the launch of the weekly Monday Morning Quarterback luncheon with Coach.  College football.  Heroic last minute drives.  USC alumni tearing up the NFL.  The beginning of conference play.  A 12:30 game time in Seattle.  This is as good as life gets.  Beat the Huskies, and Fight on.  https://davidbahnsen.wpengine.com