Considering its season already is a bust, with national-title hopes buried on Stanford’s campus during a subpar – and losing – effort against the Cardinal a month ago, No. 11 Southern California pretty much is primed for an upset just about every time it laces ’em up the rest of this fall.
Ironically enough, the Trojans’ latest hurdle just happens to come in Washington, which snuffed out Stanford’s hopes of an unbeaten 2012 less than two weeks after the aforementioned took place.
What makes the Huskies dangerous, though, is twofold – they’re at home, and they ain’t too shabby.
Their two losses came against the nation’s third- and second-ranked teams, both on the road, and they’ve already proven they can play with the big boys when hosting ’em in Seattle, as evidenced by their 17-13 win against the Cardinal in which they outmuscled a very physical squad. They can pass and throw equally well behind QB Keith Price and RB Bishop Sankey, who has ripped off three straight 100-yard games, and their defense is capable of shutdown efforts. Stanford only mustered 235 total yards, and RB Stepfan Taylor saw his Heisman candidacy disappear.
The Trojans, meanwhile, well, put it this way – they’re not exactly where they thought they’d be after QB Matt Barkley announced his return following last season and once talented RB Silas Redd transferred from scandal-riddled Penn State. Even before losing at Stanford, they hardly were clicking on all cylinders and since then they haven’t impressed, struggling a bit to put away California and Utah, both of which possess losing records.
Reality is, should any USC fans have a hankering to put their money where their mouths are this week, they might want to keep this in mind: buyer beware.
No. 18 Louisville at Pittsburgh – This isn’t so much calling the unbeaten Cardinals’ merits into question as it in recognizing how the Panthers can be, hmmmm, erratically good, if not exceptional. Aside from a stunning season-opening loss at Heinz Field to Youngstown State of FCS ilk, Pitt pretty much plays lousy on the road and pretty darn awesome at home. Senior QB Tito Sunseri is quietly having one of the best years in the country (1,463 yards, 69.1 completion percentage, 8 TDs, 2 INTs, 164.7 rating), he has not one, but two quality receivers (Mike Shanahan and Devin Street) and a solid ground game headed by Ray Graham for support.
No. 10 Oregon State at Brigham Young – It should come down to whichever team is hurt less by the loss of its starting signal-caller. Heisman candidate Sean Mannion went down with a knee injury in the unbeaten Beavers win against Washington State last week and freshman fireball Taysom Hill, using his legs, arms and intensity, had breathed some life back into BYU after taking over for ineffective Riley Nelson during the Cougars’ loss at Boise State three weeks ago.
No. 5 West Virginia at Texas Tech – With Heisman frontrunner Geno Smith at the helm, the spotless Mountaineers figure to roll against unranked opposition. But the 4-1 Red Raiders, led by QB Seth Doege (1,392, 15 TDs, 6 INTs), have some ammo of their own. They rank 21st in the country in scoring. Not only that, they’re 23rd in points allowed.
No. 4 Florida at Vanderbilt – Trap game. Coming off an upset of then-unbeaten and fourth-ranked LSU last week and hosting current No. 3 South Carolina next week, the Gators are prime for a letdown … and the Commodores, as usual, rate among the country’s classic “always tough, no matter what the record” teams. Plus they’re home and infused with some confidence courtesy of a win at Missouri last week.