LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans makes a pass in front of Derrick Shelby #90 of the Utah Utes during the first quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
I took a look around the Syracuse news and blogging world this morning and noticed something about the tone of everyone's site, including mine.
You'd think we were 0-2 right now.
I hate it when people are contrarian for the sake of being contrarian, but you know what...F*** THIS.
I'm excited about this weekend. Yeah I know, we haven't looked all that great and USC is USC. But then again, we're 2-0 and 2011 USC ain't 2007 USC.
The early line has been set at -16.5. My first reaction was that it was way too big, but then I remembered all the factors at play and realized it's fair enough.
I've got plenty of links about how the sky is falling below but before we get there, I'll just throw out a couple things that may or may not make you feel a little better about life.
1. Ryan Nassib Is An Absolute Magician
It's so refreshing to have a quarterback who delivers on what's expected. And then some. Even with some iffy protection, Nassib is currently in the top 10 in the nation in completion percentage. He's also moving up the Syracuse record books at break-neck speed.
If you include the Pinstripe Bowl, he's had three-straight quality starts. You know what they say, all good things come in fours.*
*They may or may not actually say that.
2. USC's Opponents Ain't All That Impressive Either.
Good for them for being 2-0 as well and this isn't to say they're a bad football team, but, like I said, this ain't the old USC.
3. The Trojans Are Turnover-Prone
If there's any surefire way for Syracuse to win this game, it's to let USC beat themselves.
USC turned the ball over three times against Utah, twice in the red zone. Through two games, the Trojans’ turnover margin stands at minus-two a year after it finished at plus-four.
Plus, Lane Kiffin is a lunatic who goes for two-point conversions when he doesn't need to and the Trojans are very penalty-prone to boot.
USC plays a risky game of football and their talent has been enough to carry them to victory in their first two games. If they don't put a clamp down on the ball soon, they're gonna get burnt sooner or later.
4. Tyler Troubles
Marc Tyler should scare the pants off of you. The RB returned from suspension to rush for 113 yards on 24 carries, including a touchdown, last week. You'd think he'd be taking the first snap and many more this weekend. However, Tyler isn't No. 1 on the depth chart this week, for whatever reason.
The USC running game is a little discombobulated and maybe that will disrupt their success. Maybe? I dunno, I'm reaching a little bit on this one.
5. The Scott Shafer Factor
I defer to orangesox on this one...
In 2007, the Stanford Cardinal went into USC's Coliseum as 41 point underdogs. They went on to win the game by a final score of 24-23(the largest point spread upset in the history of college football). The Cardinal defense had 1 fumble recovery and 4 interceptions(one ran back for a touchdown). Who was the defensive coordinator for this beast of a defense who ended a 35 game home winning streak? That's right... Scott Shafer. Can he work his magic again in the coliseum? Let's hope so.
6. Syracuse Does Good Things When Not Expected
I'm reminded of the 2007 Louisville game and the 2008 Notre Dame game. Two road games in which the Orange were considered heavy underdogs with no real reason to win. And both times they won. I'm sure you can find examples where the Orange didn't deliver in the same situation, but, I just wanted to remind you that it's been done.
There, feel better? No? Well, I tried...
The Fizz 5: What We Know About Syracuse Football After Two Weeks...Orange Fizz
OLs Struggling Across The League...ESPN Big East
History once again against Syracuse as it prepares for USC...The Juice Online
USC coach impressed with Orange...YNN
Syracuse University still without Chandler Jones as it travels to face storied Southern Cal...Nolan Weidner
USC's defensive line makes the difference...ESPN