O/NSO - WSU review

Unless Traveler, USC's famous white horse mascot, becomes Mr. Ed, the talking horse, the celebrated steed will be the only Trojan not talking about a potential Sugar Bowl game in New Orleans after the No.3 USC Trojans (8-1, 4-1 Pac 10) galloped past the No. 6 Washington State Cougars 43-16 before a raucous 83,478 Coliseum Homecoming crowd.

The Obvious – Unless Traveler, USC's famous white horse mascot, becomes Mr. Ed, the talking horse, the celebrated steed will be the only Trojan not talking about a potential Sugar Bowl game in New Orleans after the No.3 USC Trojans (8-1, 4-1 Pac 10) galloped past the No. 6 Washington State Cougars 43-16 before a raucous 83,478 Coliseum Homecoming crowd.

The Not So Obvious – Ben Franklin once said three may keep a secret if two of them are dead. Well, the secret is out that USC has set its national championship compass in the direction of the Big Easy, but since when is a Pac-10 championship Rose Bowl berth considered the Granddaddy of All Afterthoughts? Hell, even after Saturday's demolition of the Cougars (7-2, 4-1), even Traveler is rumored to have asked for a lump of sugar first and a Pasadena rose sniff second.

The Obvious – The Trojans have now positioned themselves as the nation's consensus No. 2 team behind Oklahoma and are in prime position to sweep their last three games in their run for BCS virvana.

The Not So Obvious – Yes, it feels good Trojans fans to find the two major polls in agreement with the Trojans' No. 2 ranking. However, as ABC points out, the BCS is the only poll that counts when it comes to being invited to New Orleans. This is why Trojan fans should appreciate the fact that the Rose Bowl is based on performance and not computers. Amen.

The Obvious – With the Trojans heading into Bye Week No.2, it will take the next five weeks to sort this tantalizing scenario, a scenario that could have more changes than Oregon Duck uniforms.

The Not So Obvious – The intriguing finale to this season is the fact that the last three games against Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon State have become a possible all-or-nothing, since a loss could possibly ruin both New Orleans and Pasadena at the same time.

The Obvious -In hindsight, the loss at Cal might have been the best thing that happened to Pete Carroll's men in their final preparations for a bowl selection assault.

The Not So Obvious - Hopefully, the Trojans will have a better handle this time on how to deal with the impending BCS pressure andchallenge. Pete Carroll has already said there may be changes to this coming bye week.

The Obvious – Even offensive tackle Winston Justice couldn't contain himself about the national championship possibilities when he told the Times, "We're a Sugar Bowl contender, no doubt. I don't think there is anybody that can stop us."

The Not So Obvious – Pete Carroll can stop you, Winston. As much as all the stars seem to be in alignment, the Trojans' Peter Pan coach will have plenty of Cal-game reality comments in addressing his team on Sunday, comments that will remind his club there is work to be done and anything can happen.

The Obvious – Trojan players couldn't help but follow the Virginia Tech upset of Miami, for the Coliseum scoreboard was flashing updates throughout the game, much to the pleasure of the partisan Coliseum throng.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan nose tackle Mike Patterson, who helped contribute to the Wild Bunch's five quarterback sacks and the Cougars' minus-25 yards rushing, said, "We saw the score (V-Tech/Miami) and we knew what was going on, but we tried not to focus on that. We were happy. But at the same time, if you think ahead, you might get tripped up."

The Obvious – The Trojans now have a 13-game winning streak in the Coliseum, and the turnout support for the Trojans was so large on Saturday, fans late from Homecoming and parking didn't get to their Coliseum seats until well into the first quarter.

The Not So Obvious – At the conclusion of the game, the Coliseum exit tunnels were alive with Trojan passion, but all of the excitement and talk was about "Bourbon Street", not Colorado Boulevard. You ‘d never guess so many USC fans were New Orleans aficionados.

The Obvious – The Trojans' last game of the regular season will be against Oregon State in the Coliseum on Dec. 6 at 1:30 p.m., and it could be a battle between the Trojans and Beavers for the Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – The biggest certain winner on Saturday was ABC, which moved the Trojans' home game against Oregon State game from its original date to a Dec. 6 lineup leading into the Big 12 championship game, which figures to include the top-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. A perfect preview of No. 1 and No. 2 leading up to the Sugar Bowl?

The Obvious – There was nothing unpredictable about Saturday's clash of Pac-10 titans, as the Trojans continued their torrid second half production and turnover ratio, while Washington State continued its penalty flag and turnover marathon.

The Not So Obvious –The Trojans recovered two of their own fumbles, had no turnovers, and were penalized five time for 52 yards. WSU, on the other hand, was flagged 15 times, 11 in the first half, but the killer was that three of those flags were on Trojan scoring drives and four of the penalties created SC first downs. The Cougars now have had a dozen penalties in eight straight games, a stat that doesn't usually equate to Pac-10 championship football.

The Obvious – This was unquestionably one of the worst officiated Pac-10 games seen at the Coliseum in many years.

The Not So Obvious – There was the alleged fumble by Cougar quarterback Matt Kegel on the exchange from center, the alleged incomplete pass by Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart when the ball slipped out of his hand, and just a series of poor calls that certainly made every Trojan fans grateful this big game was played in the Coliseum and not Pullman, Washington.

The Obvious – The Trojans made the necessary adjustments at the half, a hallmark of the Pete Carroll era, and made the Cougars pay for almost every WSU second half miscue as the Trojans outscored WSU 28-6.

The Not So Obvious – After the game, WSU defensive tackle Jeremy Williams said, "They took advantage if we made a mistake. If we weren't in the right place, they exploited us."

The Obvious – Trojan sophomore quarterback Matt Leinart was 17 of 31 for 191 yards and three second half touchdowns, continuing his drive for Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year.

The Not So Obvious – Leinart's best pass of the day was his third quarter 12-yard scoring strike to Mike Williams, who was totally covered by junior Karl Paymah. Williams was like a busted spring as the ball and Paymah arrived at the same time.

The Obvious – The Trojans have been trying to get Leinart help by finding a consistent third wide receiver, even playing freshman Whitney Lewis early on Saturday, although the heralded freshman from St. Bonaventure didn't make a catch.

The Not So Obvious – In the stands on his Trojan recruiting trip was Ohio receiver Fred Davis (6-4, 210), who had a chance to watch Norm Chow's vaunted offense in action and checkout the Trojans' receiving depth and talent.

The Obvious – The 55-yard third quarter scoring strike from Trojan QB Matt Leinart to freshman receiver Steve Smith served as both a crucial score to up the Trojans' lead to 22-10 and brought Smith needed confidence – not to mention a front page photo in the Times' Sunday paper.

The Not So Obvious – The big play by freshman Smith was even more impressive because he broke the tackle of Washington State's best cover, Jason David, something that should not be lost in the excitement. Afterwards Smith said, "Man, when I saw the end zone out of the corner of my eye, I started running as fast as I could."

The Obvious – While WSU struggled on offense, they still had a threat from outstanding receiver Devard Darling, who had seven catches for 81 yards.

The Not So Obvious – Although they have been the mainstays as theTrojans' corners, the Will Poole got burned to the inside by Darling on the Cougars 5-yard scoring reception, and Marcell Allmond was finally burned deep by Darling after two previous attempts.

The Obvious – Norm Chow's pulsating offense combined for 225 yards on the ground and 214 through the air and surpassed their 39.9 scoring average.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans scored more points against Washington State than anybody has done in the past four Cougar seasons and were an impressive five-for- five in the Cougars' red zone.

The Obvious – After a slow rushing start, the Trojans pounded home the rebirth of Tailback U. with breakout runs of 24, 49, and 66 yards, including a 24-yard scoring dash by sophomore Hershel Dennis that left the Cougars' senior free safety Erik Coleman grasping at air.

The Not So Obvious – Chow proved once again that Tailback U. lives in his playbook as the Trojans look to finish the Pac-10 season as the conference's leading rushing team, a category that they have not commanded since 1981.

The Obvious – After the game, the Trojans' heralded defensive front received praise from sultry Cougar quarterback Matt Kegel, who said, " Their (USC defense) is good but not great. The front four is very good."

The Not So Obvious – Well, since the "very good" Trojan defense has the "Wild Bunch 2" moniker, it sure seems like the young Trojan tailbacks consisting of sophomore Hershel Dennis and freshmen LenDale White and Reggie Bush should have one. Anyone for the "DWB Transit Authority?"

The Obvious – Trojans' freshman tailback LenDale White carried for a career-high 149 yards on 12 carries to break his own record set against Arizona State.

The Not So Obvious – Hershel Dennis and Reggie Bush have been stars carrying the ball for the Trojans, but it wasn't until White, who now has three 100-yard games, exploded on the scene that the other two began running with a renewed purpose. It's a validation of Pete Carroll's creed that competition breeds competition.

The Obvious – Injured senior defensive end Omar Nazel, who played with a cast on his hand, backed up his vocals by showing great intensity by sacking Cougar quarterback Matt Kegel.

The Not So Obvious – Once again, his partner on the other end, Kenechi Udeze, who had three tackles including two sacks, made life miserable for the Cougars on the edge. Let's not forget the motor of DT Shaun Cody, who made a hit on Kegel that looked like a Jesse Ventura body slam.

The Obvious – The unsung hero in Saturday's game was kicker Ryan Killeen, who was a perfect two-for-two in field goals and five-for-five in extra points.

The Not So Obvious – Could there be any player happier than Killeen after last year's disaster at Washington State? Killeen got the ultimate thumbs-up from Trojan wide receiver Mike Williams, who had words with Killeen the previous week at Washington over a missed field goal. After a successful kick on Saturday, Williams came up to Killeen and gave him a hug.

The Obvious – Nobody knows better than the Trojans and their fans the importance of the kicking game, so it was it was the shoes-on-the-other-foot when WSU sophomore snapper Riley Fitt-Chappel, subbing for injured starter Troy Bienemann, snapped the ball twice over his punter Kyle Basler's head.

The Not So Obvious – On the first bad snap, Basler made a tremendous play by knocking the bad snap out of the end zone to take a safety. Smart thinking by Basler may have avoided a potential Trojan recovery in the Cougar end zone. WSU coach Bill Duba couldn't replace snapper Fitt-Chappel because the Cougars' third snapper, Adam West, was out with a concussion.

The Obvious – The Trojans held a 15-10 lead at halftime.

The Not So Obvious – While Pete Carroll said later he was happy with the 15-10 lead, he must have been asking himself how could his Trojans be up by only five points after holding WSU to minus-56 yards rushing. Who knew?

The Obvious – Before the game, USC senior wide receiver Keary Colbert was on the mind of WSU coach Bill Doba who said, "What makes their (USC) offense so good is Colbert. He's a good blocker, an excellent receiver, and he has good speed. So it's difficult to place all of your double-teams or brackets on Mike Williams when you've got the other guy."

The Not So Obvious – While the WSU defense was exceptionally well-coached, fast, and very sure tacklers, Colbert still managed 80 yards on nine receptions, including a 13-yard scoring reception in the fourth quarter.

The Obvious – The Cougars' passing attack relied mostly of crossing patterns and short dinks over the middle to slanting receivers.

The Not So Obvious – While it was a downer of a day for most of the Cougar team, wide receiver Scott Lunde had career highs with 10 receptions and 117 yards. The senior from Vancouver Hudson Bay had an outstanding game.

The Obvious – The Trojans' sophomore middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu was very active during the game and finished with 11 tackles (7 solo).

The Not So Obvious - A number of times Trojan outside linebacker Dallas Sartz positioned as a middle linebacker.

The Obvious – The Trojans are extremely thin in the secondary and cannot afford any more injuries the rest of the way.

The Not So Obvious – It was with great trepidation that the USC mass reacted with silence when Trojan DB Justin Wyatt, who had just switched back to defense from wide receiver, went down in the end zone. Wyatt, however, returned later in the fourth quarter and appeared to be well.

The Obvious - It should be mentioned that DB Ronald Nunn had an impact on defense despite a broken eye socket scare last week at Washington.

The Not So Obvious – Nunn finished the game with seven tackles – three of which were unassisted.

The Obvious – The Trojans' seemed to make very few errors against the Cougars, but they did make one big blunder in the third quarter when they had WSU in punt formation at the 50-yard line only to see the Cougs fake the punt and run for a first down.

The Not So Obvious – It was a fourth and four situation and given the fact that WSU was down 25-10, the Trojans fell asleep at the switch. You can bet that Arizona, UCLA, and Oregon State will make note of that in their coming weeks of preparation, as will Pete Carroll's staff.

The Obvious – The Trojans' defense was missing injured All-Pac10 linebacker Matt Grootegoed, but sophomore Dallas Sartz filled in quite capably with nine tackles (6 solo).

The Not So Obvious – Unfortunately for Washington State, they suffered a major injury during the game to their defense when senior linebacker Al Genetone went down with an ankle sprain. The designated linebacker in charge of making sure the Cougars stopped the Trojan tailbacks from cutting against the grain, Genatone's loss was very apparent on LenDale White's 49-yard cutback. Replacement LB Pat Bennett, a junior from Forks, Washington, overran the play and the race was on.

The Obvious – Washington State entered the game with a conference-leading 31 sacks, but only reached Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart once for a seven-yard loss, a tribute to Tim Davis, the Trojans' offensive line coach and his players.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans started junior offensive guard John Drake in the first half, but replaced him with sophomore Fred Matua to start the second half.

The Obvious – UCLA lost 21-14 at Stanford when coach Karl Dorrell ordered a Drew Olson QB sneak on fourth down at the Cardinal one-yard line as time was running out.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojan fans may be happy with the UCLA loss, but it sure doesn't help USC's strength of schedule when the Bruins lose to last place Stanford.

The Obvious – Trojans' legendary strong safety Ronnie Lott was recognized as this year's Homecoming chairman.

The Not So Obvious – The festive Homecoming crowd didn't need an introduction from public address announcer Dennis Packer, for as soon as Lott's face flashed on the video board, the joint erupted with appreciation.

The Obvious – A number of former Trojan greats were on the sidelines including former All-America offensive guard Roy Foster from the great 70's lines, who was wearing a black jacket with the words "Big Daddy" emblazoned.

The Obvious – While the Trojans went at times with a two tight end set of Greg Guenther and Kurt Katnick, with little fanfare, former Trojan quarterback-turned tight end Matt Cassel made his appearance with 13:10 remaining in the first half.

The Not So Obvious – Cassel did not catch a pass on Saturday, but don't count him out of the mix, especially after getting more reps during bye week. At least the kid is seeing the field, something that would have never happened if he had remained at quarterback. In fact, Cassel saw the field and No. 2 quarterback John David Booty did not.

The Obvious – Current USC tailbacks get no better inspection than from former Trojan tailbacks.

The Not So Obvious – Former Trojan tailbacks Rodney Sermons and Anthony Davis were in attendance watching the return of Tailback U. Davis was busy earlier on campus during Homecoming festivities with his own autograph signing booth.

The Obvious – There was a tremendous turnout for Homecoming on campus, and the fratboys and girls had their won section to party hardy.

The Not So Obvious – In the middle of campus, it sure sounded like the Chantays playing their hit Pipeline, the legendary surf instrumental from the 1960's. Either it was the Chantays or young boys disguised as old men.

The Obvious – Saturday's game was not quite a sellout, however, it was the most to ever witness a Washington State game in the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – There appeared to be actually more people looking for tickets than people selling tickets, a sign of a big game.

The Obvious – As the Trojans increased their lead to 38-16 in the fourth quarter, one has to wonder what the impact was upon the large number of USC recruits at the game.

The Not So Obvious – The Daily News Scott "Sherlock" Wolf reported that massive LA Fremont lineman Thomas Herring gave the Trojans a verbal after the game, which Herring later denied. Folks, when comes to recruiting accuracy, it isn't very often that Wolf misses the mark. We'll take it that the kid did verbal, but he probably wants to go through the balance of the recruiting process. Only hitch in the alleged verbal the plan is the documented evidence that says Herring's mother and coach would like to see him go out of state.

The Obvious – Culver City receiver prospects Michael Bumpus (6-0, 188) and Jaison Williams (6-4, 215) were in attendance on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – Word is that if Bumpus can "up" his college test scores, he will be a Trojan. Williams is being pursued strongly by Michigan and are pulling out all the stops to sneak one out of Los Angeles.

The Obvious – The next Trojan home game, a Coliseum sellout, isn't till Nov. 22 against those boys from Westwood, and the Trojans hope to be in an even stronger position to make a run for a Rose Bowl berth and, sshhhhhh , the national title game.

The Not So Obvious – After Saturday's game, Pete Carroll informed, "We're in a position to have a hell of a season, but until we finish it off, it doesn't mean anything." To put it another way, with an all-or-nothing prospect, the Trojans are in a position to have a hell of a season or season ending of hell. It looks good for the Trojans, but "good" can only be achieved between the sidelines.

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