Syracuse isn't going to win. In fact, given USC's fire power on offense, this match-up of No. 2 v. No. Nothing could get ugly, quick. But just because I don't see the Orange winning the game doesn't mean SU can't win some key battles tomorrow.
I hate to call them morale victories, but if Syracuse can do the following it will have reason to feel good going forward: 1) Stay within a respectable score; 2)continue to efficiently run its new no-huddle offense (with drives that result in points); 3) and even make some big plays against the Trojan defense. If all of that happens (and if it does, Syracuse may even pull a rabbit out of the hat and win the dang game) I think SU can walk out of the Meadowlands feeling good that the rest of the schedule will only get easier.
Final Score - USC 38 - Syracuse 16 and much better than its 0-2 record.
After the Northwestern game there is the SLIGHTEST of hopes we can pull an '84 upset special on those Trojans. The only issue is that the secondary looks like a weak link and that works just fine for USC. It's a bad match-up against Matt Barkley and even if we put up major points, USC will score faster. Trojans win it 45-20 (but it's never that close).
Honestly? I'm expecting the air raid siren to go off by the end of the first half. Given the way we played pass defense against Northwestern (terrible), and add in Matt Barkley's talent, it's a recipe for disaster. While I wish I could sit here and tell you we'll put up a good fight against the (second-)best team in the nation, there are just too many things that need to go 100-percent right for SU in order to keep this one fairly competitive. Nassib must be flawless, we have to have an effective running game and the defense has to develop SEC speed overnight -- and that's just the start of the list. Syracuse will put together some fun games this year, for sure. Saturday's just won't be one of them. Final score: USC 56, Syracuse 30.
I've spent all week thinking about how Syracuse can win this game, or even keep it close, and I'm sad to say I don't see it happening.
USC has their sights set on a national championship this season. They know that every win counts, and perception with poll voters matters as much as reality on the field. They lost their #1 ranking to Alabama last week and now have a nationally-televised opportunity to stake their claim to the top spot once again.
I think Syracuse will put up a valiant fight, but experience and athleticism will win out in the end. The lack of a true home field advantage for the Orange won't help.
USC 48, Syracuse 20
USC 38, Syracuse 24
USC will come out a bit flat and Syracuse makes it a game into the third quarter, when USC's superior talent pulls away and coasts to victory. Syracuse fans are bummed out at the 0-2 record, but are still optimistic about the team's play.
Call me a killjoy, but I don't expect it to go particularly well. The points made during the last week or so are valid. Most of the guys playing went up against the Trojans last year, so there's some familiarity there. They won't be playing in the Coliseum, so there's not 90,000 screaming USC fans. Trouble is, there won't be 90,000 screaming 'Cuse fans either. Let's face it, to USC, Syracuse is that not-necessarily-terrible-team-from-a-BCS-conference-that-we-should-beat-by-at-least-25-anyway-so-we-ca-keep-our-SOS-up game. It's like when Syracuse plays Florida or NC State in basketball. The Trojans should win this game, they expect to and they probably will. I expect that the Orange will fare only slightly better than Hawai'i. USC 42, Syracuse 14.
Predicted Outcome: Loss
Score: What was the score when Truman dropped the bombs on Japan? That.
Beers Consumed Pre-, During, and Post-Game: High likelihood that I piss myself in the parking lot at some point.
Reasoning: Look: Last week filled my heart with happiness and delight and I -- Senator Suxa, the distinguished representative from the State of Destined Disappointment -- now think that this team has, potentially, six wins in them. However, this is USC. USC. Anything can happen on Saturday, but unless security lets me walk into the stadium with a laser cannon so that I can start picking off Trojans, Syracuse is going to get smacked in the face. I don't think that Kiffin and Associates, Ltd. will outwork Marrone and Sons, LLC, but the talent differential -- let's say the difference between a homemade laser cannon and a factory-issued laser cannon with a lifetime "Will incinerate your enemies or your money back!" warranty -- is just too pronounced.
There's a part of me that keeps thinking about that 1984 Nebraska game and even the 2007 Louisville game to remind myself that a Syracuse win is not as out of the realm of possibility as it seems. That said, it's out of the realm enough that you'd be a lunatic to expect the Orange to win or even come close to winning.
However, I do think the Orange can do something similar to what they did against Penn State a few years back. You remember that the Lions came into the Dome and embarrassed us in Greggers' final season. The next year, Marrone marched us into Happy Valley and came away with a respectable loss in which an overmatched SU team played their hearts out but it just wasn't enough to compete with that talent across the field.
I think the Orange make it respectable and atone for last year's drubbing. Close game at the half until the Trojans simply manhandle their way to a victory.
USC 38, Syracuse 24
How bout you, what do you think will happen?