USC v OSU Mark II
I stole this from CBS Sportsline's MB...I've read this guy before and he is good...it is exceedingly long but perhaps the most exacting breakdown of a single game I've ever seen. Enjoy and feel free to comment...but try and keep it aboveboard, please...
The hype surrounding the game of September is starting to take on new heights. I've heard it all...OSU will win in a close one, USC will destroy them again, it will be a low scoring game, the Trojans will put 70 on the score board, home field advantage, etc., etc., etc. So, what will it be? How will this game finish out? Well, let me throw some comparisons out on the table. A table that's already plum full of this and that regarding this huge matchup. I'll tell you how I think it's going to end up.
First off, let me say that Pete Carroll is arguably the best coach in all of sports. I have huge respect for this guy. He knows exactly how to get his team up for a big game, and I love the mentality he brings to that program. His only fault...sometimes he allows his players to relax a bit for a game his squad should dominate in. And they end up losing a heartbreaker, which in-turn ruins their season. The Trojans should have a least two more national titles on their books than they already have this decade...the year they lost to Oregon State and UCLA, and last year when they lost again to Oregon State. Those Oregon teams have given USC fits this decade. The Trojans are a combined 9-6 this decade against Oregon and Oregon St combined. I sure hope Tressel gave those coaches a call recently, to find out what their secret is. What gets me is how USC can lose two conference games in a season and still be named PAC10 champs. Anyway, those two USC teams that lost those three conference games were IMO the best teams in the nation the past two seasons. I don't care what anyone says. USC would have beaten OSU, LSU, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas and any other team in the final top 10 in 2007, and would have beaten Florida last year. Granted we'll never know for sure, but I would bet some big bucks they would've won any of those matchups. Had there been a playoff the past two seasons, USC would have won it all.
Alright, now I know the Buckeyes have struggled in big games the past few seasons. I can tell you, the 2009 team is just as sick and tired of hearing about it as we fans are. However, this team is getting hyped up in the same manner as the previous three. I was really hoping that wouldn't happen this season, but thanks to the media, the hype is back. The Buckeyes are preseason ranked by the coaches at #6. In 2008, the coaches ranked the Buckeyes 3rd in the preseason, 10th in '07, and #1 in 2006. The national champion in each of those seasons were pre-ranked #8 in '06, #2 in '07 and #5 last season. Shows how much they know. They did get it right in 2005 pre-ranking USC and Texas #1 and #2 respectively (BCS title game purposes only), however Texas ended up #1 after they edged USC in the title game. So how does all of this affect the Buckeyes? Well, it seems the Buckeyes are still highly regarded even after losing so much talent in key positions from the '08 team. Heck, the Big 10 thinks they'll beat PSU for the Big 10 title. They even dubbed Pryor preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Do all of these people know something we don't? Or should I say, know something the OSU haters don't? Although I'm not liking all the hype the Buckeyes are getting, I too highly regard this team. I think they know what they're talking about, and also know why they are regarding this team as "near top 5" material. They will be a top 5 team if they beat USC. But, can this team compete with the #4 ranked team in the coach's preseason poll? Let's dig in and try to find out.
Pete Carroll is regarded as the best recruiter in college football. After all, he has signed more 5-star prospects than any other program this decade. But as far as this game goes, 2004 recruiting and earlier doesn't count (with the exception of two '09 starters who signed in 2004 and received a 6th year of eligibility). Both teams have a handful of 5-year guys, however OSU hasn't retained any 2004 signees. As far as recruiting goes, Tressel can hold his own, and he's signed some pretty darn good athletes in his time at OSU.
In this particular analysis of the 2009 matchup, I will use the law of average to break these teams down based on each team's current starting lineups. I used their media guides to make sure there was no error.
First, let's look at both program's overall recruiting since 2005. Who out-recruited who? Well, when you look at average class rankings between 2005-2009, USC averages #4 and OSU averages #9. Carroll signed 21 5-star players to Tressel's 9. With the exception of the 2009 class (who haven't played a down yet), USC has a record of 46-6 vs opponents average winning percentage of .576. OSU has a record of 43-8 vs opponents average winning percentage of .597. So for now, it's safe to say these two programs have lived up to the average recruiting class ranking (According to Rivals by the way).
Based on each team's starting line-ups for 2009 (media guides), and Rivals ranking of those players when they signed, here's the breakdown:
Let's focus on the starting players from both sides recruited since 2005 (2004 for those two 6-year guys at USC). Of the 21 5-star players signed with USC, 8 will be starting this game (5 on offense and 3 on defense). For OSU, 4 of the 9 will start (all 4 on offense). Oh, and by the way, those two guys who got that 6th year of eligibility...both were 5-stars in 2004. So, USC actually has 8 of 23 5-stars starting this game. I've heard people say USC has 5-stars backing up 5-stars. Well, it's true. They're depth is quite deep. But what about all the 3 and 4-star prospects signed by these programs since 2005? Both have their fair share of these guys too. Instead of breaking it down by each position, I'll make an average of the Rivals prospect rating for both teams starting lineup. I'll compare the offense to the other teams defense and vice-versa for the other side.
* USC averages 4.3 stars per player on their offense. OSU averages 3.5 stars on their defense.
* USC has 5 seniors, 5 juniors and 1 sophomore on offense. OSU has 5 seniors and 6 juniors on defense.
* USC averages 2.2 varsity letters per player on offense, OSU averages 2.3 per player on defense.
* OSU averages 4.2 stars per player on offense. USC averages 4.2 stars on defense.
* OSU has 3 seniors, 2 juniors, 5 sophomores and 1 freshman on offense. USC has 4 seniors, 4 juniors and 3 sophomores on defense.
* OSU averages 1.3 varsity letters per player on offense, USC averages 2.4 per player on defense.
Some might find this hard to believe, but OSU will feature more team speed than will USC. Don't get me wrong, USC has tons of speed but this year's edition of the Buckeyes will be arguably the fastest team ever fielded at OSU and will feature more speed top-to-bottom. The Buckeyes have several offensive players who recently ran sub 4.4 forty yard sprints (including Pryor) and one player nearly went under 4.3. The defense is the fastest ever headlined by a book-end 4.45 guy in Thad Gibson. OSUs outside LB corps will disrupt many as both ran sub 4.5 forties. The defensive backfield also averages sub 4.5 speed.
So, what do we make of all of this? USC will surely bring a more talented team top-to-bottom to the Shoe. But what really matters is the individual matchups between the starting players. I believe games are won and lost in the trenches. So, the front lines are critical. Here's how I see those matchups, and which team has the edge.
Re: USC v OSU Mark II
OSU's offensive line against the USC defensive line:
OSU has a very talented offensive line. Justin Boren adds to it's strength at the guard position and he has taken charge of his O-line. Two sophomore 5-star lineman, along with Boren will lead the way up front which also features an experienced senior tackle and a junior guard opposite Boren. This line averages 4.2 stars per player, and they're a very athletic group who plans to make every OSU fan forget about last year's debacle on the offensive front. They average 1.2 varsity letters (mainly because of Boren's transfer and ineligibility last season and a sophomore who didn't play enough to earn a letter last season).
USC has a very talented defensive line to counter what OSU plans to bring toward them. They have 1 senior and 1 junior along with 2 sophomores there. They average 4.3 stars per player, along with 1.8 varsity letters. So, the matchup between these two lines is pretty close. Should be fun to watch.
USC's offensive line against the OSU defensive line:
Alright, this could get interesting. USC will feature arguably the BEST offensive line in the nation. They're experienced, and extremely hungry. They know they have to perform well, as the offense breaks in a new QB. The running may need to step up to help them win a few games this season, and USC has no shortage of 5-star running backs. This line averages 4.2 stars as well, but the difference is experience. 3 seniors lead this line which also has a junior and a sophomore starting. They average 2.2 varsity letters per player.
OSU's defensive line has received a lot of hype this season. They're expected to be stronger and faster than last year's squad. However if someone were to credit this line with bing the fastest ever at OSU, I would have to argue against it. Nonetheless, these guys are studs in their own right, and will give plenty of O-lines problems. These guys have experience to go along with the experience on the USC O-line. The senior and 3 juniors average 3.8 stars and have earned 2 varsity letters. This will be their biggest test of the season, but they're hoping their speed and athleticism match the strength of that mighty USC offensive line. This is going to be fun to watch too.
Outside the lines, I think the next matchup will be equally as interesting. The OSU wide receivers against the USC defensive backfield, and vice versa. So, let's take a gander.
USC WR versus OSU DB
Although I can only guess who will be up against who (one-on-one), I'm going to have to give a slight edge to OSU here. Top-to-bottom again. I think if Chekwa has to defend against Ronald Johnson, he'll have his hands full. Damian Williams is pretty darn good too, but I think Chekwa matches up better with him. Amos or Torrence matches up better with Johnson. Either way, I have to give the edge to USC here. OSU starting DBs average 3.3 stars (3.5 at CB), 2.5 varsity letters and are veteran laden with 3 seniors and 1 junior. USC's starting WRs average 4.5 stars, 1.5 varsity letters and both are juniors.
OSU WR vs. USC DB
Alright, here's where it gets tricky for USC. Sanzenbacher is really the only known when it comes to OSU's receiver corps. Many "experts" are underestimating this group of highly talented receivers. Sanzenbacher is the slowest of the bunch at around 4.5 forty speed. Remember earlier I said a handful of Buckeyes ran sub 4.4? Well, here they are. I expect Brandon Saine will be used in some formations as a receiver, and he's a 4.3ish guy. I just have a feeling USC's DBs are going to be chasing these guys around the field all day, and if one of these guys gets a leg up on them...it's over. Joey Galloway had tons of speed...imagine 3 Joey Galloways lining up simultaneously. That's what OSU has to offer. OSU averages 4.5 stars at WR along with 1.5 varsity letters. I heard USC was planning to use Mayes as a spy on Pryor. Umm, not too sure I'd do that, but if that's what Carroll wants to do...I did say he was a pretty darn good coach. So we'll see how that turns out. USC's DBs average 4 stars, 3.3 varsity letters and are veteran laden as well with 3 seniors and a junior.
So where did we get with all of this? Talent wise, I'd have to give the edge to USC. Speed wise, to OSU. Experience wise, USC. Then there's that night time home field advantage for OSU. Trust me, it will be an advantage. The bottom line, this is going to be a great game. It will, without a doubt, be the toughest game for both teams all season. No other team on either team's schedule matches up the way these two squads do. The winner of this one should go far, and if they don't, it will be their own fault. They are better than every other team they will play.
Fearless prediction: OSU-27 USC-23
Re: USC v OSU Mark II
He continues on...
Alright, the OSU running backs (TB and FB) come in averaging 3.5 stars, but only 0.5 varsity letters. Boom earned his last year and the Bucks will be breaking in a freshman FB. As we know, USC lost some incredible linebackers last season, but their backups could be equally impressive. Maybe a little smaller and leaner, but faster and meaner. They average 4.3 stars, 2 varsity letters featuring 2 juniors and a sophomore. They've been waiting in the depth chart line for their time to shine, and you can bet money they'll be ready to do just that. Even though our O-line is improved this season, I still think running off tackle might be a challenge in this game. OSU will have to use their speed advantage on the outside to help open things up in the middle. Hopefully Tress will call plenty of bootleg plays with Pryor running to pass. He throws well on the run, and when he takes off, the defense cheats up. That could be the leg up the WRs need to get open and make big plays. With this group on the offense, I believe the playbook can be unlimited. Tress needs to practice taking chances with this squad, and let them do their thing. No need to be conservative this year.
Forgot the flip side. USC could have the best goup of running backs in the nation this season. The second and third stringers could start and be stars for any team in the country. That spells problem for all of their opponents this season. Especially with that awesome O-line coming in. USC RBs average 4.5 stars, and the second string RB is also a 5-star guy. They average 3 varsity letters and feature senior leadership at TB. The FB is a junior. Expect to see a pro-set with two 5-star TBs on the field early and often. OSU's LB corps will feature a little more speed than last year, but the presence of Little Animal will be missed. Think of this LB corps as having 3 Marcus Freeman's on the field at once. The outside LBs should be able to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. With this group of USC running backs, the extra speed will help. OSU LBs average 3.3 stars (with at least one 5-star on the depth chart...could get a redshirt this year), average 2.3 varsity letters, and will feature a senior and two juniors. They'll have their hands full in this game, but I'm expecting a solid performance...once they settle down. Everyone will be shaky at the onset.
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