LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 17: Fullback Rhett Ellison #40 of the USC Trojans is upended by linebacker Marquis Spruill # 11 of the Syracuse Orangemen at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on September 17, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
USC cruised to a 38-17 victory over the Syracuse University Orange on Saturday night in the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, as quarterback Matt Barkley completed 26 of 39 passes for 324 yards and five touchdowns. His main target was receiver Robert Woods, who hauled in eight passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.
At the end of the day, the talent gap was just too much for the Orange to overcome. Their offensive line was bigger. Their wide receivers were quicker. Their defense was more physical. And Matt Barkley was Matt Barkley.
This game had all the shades of last year's West Coast trip to Washington. The Orange looked decent to start but quickly faded as the opponent started racking up stats.
The good news is, that loss to Washington didn't define the 2010 season. Instead, it was a low point from which to revamp and rebuild en route to a bowl game. Let's hope SU learns the same from this loss.
Couple quick thoughts...
Ryan Nassib. An 11-for-11 start? Pretty great. 230 yards and a TD? Sounds great. But without a deep threat and with many dropped balls (still?), he was often dinking and dunking to the point where it got exciting when Syracuse completed a pass for more than five yards. I know that's nothing new but it illustrated the difference between USC and SU. I'm reasonably sure the Trojan's shortest pass was 147 yards long.
Syracuse secondary. Rough night. To be fair, they were up against one of the best QB-WR tandems in the nation. Injuries took their toll as well. But...yeah, rough night. Brandon Reddish, walk it off.
Matt Barkley may have pitched a tent, camped out, roasted weenies and sang a couple campfire songs in the pocket on some plays, but I might have been mistaken.
Doug Marrone decides to go for it on 4th down late in the 2nd quarter from near midfield. The gamble doesn't pay off and the Trojans almost get a bonus 3-points before the half. Still...it was worth a shot. Clearly the Orange needed to do some tricky things in order to generate points. Had it worked, it could have made a difference.
Speaking of, the halfback option...great call. Thank goodness Van Chew had the where-with-all to turn and make the catch. Almost could have been the spark...
...however it was just one of those nights. Critical plays didn't work. Great passes were dropped. Tough penalties set us back. USC converted what seemed like every 3rd down. One of those nights...
Syracuse might be the best-mustachioed team in the nation.
Lots more to discuss, feel free to get to it in the comments.
By the way, a brief review of the FX broadcast. All in all, I liked it. Little things like pronouncing player names correctly and actually knowing background on each of them beyond pressnotes. Good job by Gus and Charles.
Tim Brewster, on the other hand, was pointless. Basically they'd ask him a question about a play and then he'd agree or disagree with the play-call. SO NECESSARY. He definitely needed to be on the sidelines to answer those questions. Anyway, that guy in the booth who would talk about review and rulebook was WAY MORE effective. I wanted to hear from that guy.
As for the Orange...look, we're 2-1 after a stretch in which we expected to be 2-1. Toledo looks more beatable now than they did last week. If we can get to September 3-1, we will have set ourselves up for a good situation. Have you looked around the Big East? Even if you weren't impressed with what you saw tonight, you can't tell me we're not capable of winning 4-5 games in the Big East.
Shame we couldn't have put on a better show tonight. Like the team, we just need to brush it off and move on.