These are the tougher weeks to write musings, in a lot of ways harder than the weeks USC has a bye. We played a full game – four quarters worth – and there are pages of stats, highlights, and points to show for it. And yet, no rational person can believe we saw anything of substance in our Trojan team the other night. There was really no aspect of the game in which Idaho wasn’t almost cartoonishly outmatched. And yet perhaps the fact that USC blew a woefully non-competitive team out of the water does say something about the preparedness and maturity of this team relative to a lengthy list of other teams around the country … More on that later. Off we go.
Yes, USC blew Idaho out of the water and completed a two-week run of Sun Belt teams that had no business being on our schedule. I realize SEC teams have been doing this kind of thing for years (including with !-AA teams, or FCS or whatever you want to call them), and I also realize that we have Arizona State, Notre Dame, and Oregon ON THE ROAD this year, and don’t need to make the schedule any more painful than it already is. However, there are unranked teams, and then there are high school teams. And I suspect Idaho would lose to a couple premier high school teams in California, and perhaps badly. All things considered, it is going to be September 19 before we really get to see our actual Trojans play. Now we saw Cody’s arm a bit Saturday (I was laughing at those who said “he will never throw an accurate long ball” last week as he dropped dime after dime downfield), and we certainly saw the playmaking of Adoree Jackson in all its highlight reel luster. I most enjoyed seeing the spurts out of Tre Madden and Justin Davis that I believe will represent the make-or-break of our offense this year. But no, the line, the grit, the speed, the talent, the play-calling, the overall package – none of it can be evaluated in any meaningful way. This Saturday we not only get conference-opening action, but Stanford is a real team – one that is reverting to the mean of Stanford football, but a legit opponent. I can’t wait.
Around the country, I would just like to say wow – absolutely wow – to this stat: Oklahoma beat their first ranked opponent at any level since 2013 on Saturday. Oklahoma. The SEC had the kind of weekend this week that the Pac-12 had the week before (and I couldn’t care less about either conference, including the one USC plays in) … Arkansas (ranked #18) lost to Toledo AT HOME, Tennessee gave up a SEVENTEEN POINT LATE LEAD at home, and worst of all Auburn basically needed fluke after fluke to not lose to JACKSONVILLE STATE also AT HOME. Yes, they got an OT win, but was it really a “win”? This was an ugly week. South Carolina lost to Kentucky, and it looks like my beloved Gamecocks (USC east) may be headed for a rebuilding year.
One game few are talking about that all should be talking about is ASU vs. Cal Poly. I remain unclear if this Cal Poly team is in Pomona or San Luis Obispo or elsewhere and I live in the southland, and I had no idea that any Cal Poly school had a football team. I believe the final score ended up being two touchdowns wide but with just minutes left in the game ASU was tied to Cal Poly AT ASU. Arizona State may be as good as advertised, but a first week loss and a nail-biter with a junior high team is not saying so.
Oregon’s quarterback missed some throws in a bad way Saturday night but he made some good throws too. Oregon went into a tough road game and competed, so while they are clearly a notch or four down from last year, they are still highly competitive and the hands on favorite for the Pac-12 north.
My guess is that this is all just same as it ever was … That we need the entire month of September to separate pretenders from contenders, and that some teams need to shake off early season rust and others need to establish themselves. We know Ohio State and Alabama are in the top tier. We’ll see about the various Texas schools and many more. The Notre Dame QB loss may not have the impact on them some fear. When all is said and done, it’s going to be a great year.
So the school with an atheist chaplain comes into USC this weekend, site of several high profile games in recent years. It is a big test for our defensive front seven and it is a test of my theory that Kevin Hogan is not a QB up for the task of winning a big game. I have been wrong before. By wrong, I used to think Andrew Luck would WIN some big games. I was wrong on that, and I could certainly be wrong about Hogan losing his.
The greatest sport in the history of the world is about to hit its stride. Bye bye Arkansas State (who competed hard with Missouri over the weekend and could have beaten the highly ranked SEC team), and bye bye Idaho. Bring on the farm!