Last week's game was critical. This week we are playing with house money. USC's chaos is the story. We are merely the latest antagonist in their story. If we win, great. If we lose...well they were favored and "finally got their house in order." I like that the pressure is off. Maybe it will lead to us playing loose and getting a big win on the road.
What's on my mind (not totally related to this game)
Gene DeFilippo left a lot of problems and messes behind, but he deserves credit for scheduling the Trojans. USC may not be the USC we planned on facing when we agreed to the game, but putting them on the schedule when we did was critical. At the time the Notre Dame series was in doubt and it looked like we might have trouble getting home and homes with elite programs. Signing these two games was and is a big deal. I have been critical of Gene often and think many of his later decisions hurt BC rather than helped, but to ignore all the good that he did wouldn't be fair.
Three Simple Keys
1. Get plenty of pressure on Kessler. Just because Kiffin picked a starter doesn't mean this guy is ready or impressive. Kessler supposedly has a better feel for the offense and is more accurate. But let's make him inaccurate. Let's give him lots of looks and have someone in his face every play.
2. Win all the battles on the offensive line. As I mentioned in my review, the Oline was good run blocking but not great pass blocking. That won't get it done this week. We need to be better than them every down.
3. Bounce back from the big play. USC will score and will make some big plays. Our response will be telling. Too often under old regimes, if we got down early to a favorite, we would roll over. We cannot do that this week.
-- Addazio is 5-5 on the road as a head coach
-- Kiffin is 6-5 against BCS non-conference opponents
-- BC last won as a double-digit underdog in 2011
The current line is BC+14
BC hasn't played a regular season football game in California since 2001 and this is only our sixth game in California overall (second fact courtesy of BC's game notes). How have we not played here more? We've played in Hawaii three times and yet a state that has a huge Alumni population gets third tier bowls and the once a decade regular season game. I know we cannot play USC and Stanford every year, but there are other opponents in the Golden State that we can and should work into our rotation.
I will keep Maryland-UConn on my radar. Obviously the Terps are a future opponent, but I am also curious to see how the season plays out for UConn. A bad season could lead to a coaching change and I think you would see plenty of BC associated names as candidates.
I hope to see...
BC not look so one dimensional on offense. The first week we looked better passing and were inconsistent running the ball. Last week was the opposite. Addazio preaches balance. It would be nice to see it against one of the top defenses in the country.
BC is in trouble if...
USC gets non-offensive touchdowns. Lee is still a dangerous punt returner and their type of defense can certainly create pick 6s. If we give up a non-offensive touchdown, we are not winning this game.
When I thought about this game in the summer, I pictured us being the plucky underdog that tries its best but sees the big power pull away in the second half. Now I don't see USC operating that way. Instead I think we'll see a slugfest for most of the day. I think we follow the Washington State blueprint and take the lead in the second half off of a USC mistake or turnover. A tie game comes down to a late field goal and we pull off a huge win.
Final Score: BC 20, USC 17