Pete Carroll is one of the most strategic coaches in sports.
That seemingly never matters when he puts his Trojans on display against unranked opponents.
Over the last four seasons USC has terrible losses, costing them BSC National Title dreams. In 2006, all USC had to do was win out after starting 6-0. However USC lost the following game 33-31 at Oregon State.
Although they were heavily favored and the loss looked to knock them out of BCS contention, the rest of the high-ranked teams paved the way for Pete Carroll and his Trojans. As for taking advantage, USC did not. They beat Notre Dame 44-24 at the Coliseum before losing to UCLA 13-9. Eventually they capped off with a 32-18 whooping of Michigan and Chad Henne in the Rose Bowl.
In 2007, USC loses at home to Standford 24-23 in one of Pete Carroll's lowest moments. They follow up with two victories, including 38-0 win in South Bend over Charlie Weis and the Irish. Again, that one loss isn't hendering USC's oppertunity at a BSC National Title. However the following week they go to Eugene to face the Oregon Ducks without John David Booty and they lose 24-17 with Mark Sanchez in his third start. They finish with a thrashing of Illinois in the Rose Bowl.
2008's only blunder came at the hands of Oregon State 27-21 in Corvallis once again. USC allowed 21 first-half points to a run-first oriented team. Jacquizz Rodgers of the Beavers rushed 37 carries for 186 yards on what many people thought was a top 10 all-time defense. Rodgers was all over the place and USC couldn't figure out a way to locate him, let alone tackle the guy. He torched USC for two rushing TD's while James, his brother caught two TD passes.
Even though the loss came in the third game, USC wan't able to climb out of this trench and they faced Penn State, yet another Big Ten power and blew them away 38-24 in the Rose Bowl.
This season USC is 5-1 and Oregon State 4-2. Pete Carroll and the Trojans lost to Washington and Steve Sarkisian early on. They fought without safety Taylor Mays and quarterback Matt Barkley and ended up losing 13-10 in a contest where the Huskies made timely plays. After the loss they've won three in a row.
OSU comes in 3-7 in the last 10 versus USC, but have won only in Corvallis. USC is averaging 193.5 yards rushing per contest and the Beavers 132.5. Joe McKnight and Barkley should have big games as well as the wide receivers. On the other side, USC is allowing only 67.7 yards on the ground. Though something has to give, don't expect Pete Carroll to let Oregon State torch his team again.
I expect fundamental tackling by SC's linebackers and discipline by the front line unlike Standford.
If Jacquizz gets the hot hand, then it could be a long night for the Trojans and next week's clash with Oregon in Eugene may not be as meaningful as we thought.
However I like USC 31-13 at home in the Coliseum.