USC is on a roll – a steam roll and it's too bad the Arizona Wildcats, aka the worst team in the Pac Ten and soon to be known as the Arizona Sailcats, happen to be in the way. For those who don't know, a Sailcat is the friendly neighborhood kitty that gets pancaked in the middle of the street by dad's Bronco. Now flattened roadkill, the poor creature is allowed to dry on the hot pavement until it's a hardened, flat disc. It is then scraped off the asphalt with a good shovel and then flung, like a Frisbee, into the air until it can be flung no more – hence Sailcat.
Okay, perhaps the beating the Trojans will inflict on Arizona won't be that bad but the Trojans will unleash their best offensive performance. SC must win big and the BCS has a lot to do with it. Granted, it is said that margin of victory has nothing to do with BCS ranking, but something tells me Pete Carroll and Company want to grab the nation's attention with this win. Playing a team as poor as Arizona, means the only way to do that is to deliver an Oklahoma sized wiping. The Trojans are up for that effort.
Not since their last National Championship team at the end of the ‘70's have the Trojans been ranked in the top ten for this many weeks – now going on 15 consecutive. And not since that same time period have the Trojans been in true contention for a National Championship. SC has reached rarified air and instead of gasping for oxygen, their tasting each breath with sweet satisfaction.
All the above sounds like incredible smack talk. It isn't. This Trojan team is that good and to make it seem as though they will be in any form of a competition with anyone, other than themselves this coming Saturday, would be a lie. As good as previous USC teams have been, this might be the best overall collection of players on one squad in the history of the university. It is, without a doubt, the best collection of coaches and that is what makes this team great.
Sacrilege, I know. How could a USC staff be considered the best without men like Marv Goux, John Robinson or John McKay? How could this be one of the greatest collections of Trojan players without men like Lynn Swan, Anthony Munoz, Ronnie Lott or Marcus Allen? It isn't easy but with contemporaries like Pete Carroll, Norm Chow and Ed Orgeron as well as Mike Williams, Keary Colbert, Kenechi Udeze and Jacob Rogers, the 2003 Trojans seem to have found the way.
USC plays Arizona for the first time since 2001. That game seemed to mark the turning point for the Trojans as a spirited victory led, by now NFL defensive back, Kris Richard allowed to turn what could've been a losing season into the beginning of one of the program's greatest runs. In that game, the Trojans spotted the Cats by 21, then used Richard's 58 yard interception return for a touchdown to put the game away, winning 41 to 34. The greatest aspect of this win for USC is that it brought with it a true belief in winning and team that seemed to be missing from recent Trojan teams. It also announced to the rest of the Pac Ten that the Trojans were back and ready to return to the top. Since that game, since Kris Richard's interception and touchdown, Pete Carroll and his team have really never looked back.
Now, without looking too far forward, USC is about to enter their first National Championship opportunity. To do so, however, they must first take care of this week's opponent, the University of Arizona. The Wildcats, coming off an improbable win last week against the Washington Huskies, are hoping to continue their own mini-run with a victory over the Trojans. The problem is that SC also handled Washington, in their own house and UW played miserably against the Cats. UW head coach Keith Gilbertson said this was the worst football he had ever seen his team played. So, as great as it is that the Cats finally got a Pac Ten win, their first in two seasons, it must be taken with a grain of salt.
Arizona is still recovering from a major Farmer/Makovic hangover and shouldn't be expected to play anything mistaken with good football any time this season. It's just asking too much for these young men to gel after all they have gone through. Top running back, Mike Bell, is playing good ball, but from there on the talent level drops off rapidly. That's not to say that any team at any time in the Pac can beat another Pac opponent but other than SC, nobody else in the league is really playing quality football. Yes, WSU offers a fast, aggressive defense but without QB Kegel, the Cougars have no offense and as much as the adage is true, that defenses win championships, it takes execution in all three phases of the game to go all the way. SC is the only team close to achieving that level of performance.
USC has one shut out in their season opener against Auburn. Since then, they have beat their opponents by a large margin. Playing the Wildcats might open the dam up to their best offensive performance, while displaying why the Trojan defensive line has earned the moniker of Wild Bunch II. Look for SC to pitch their second, but not last, shut out this year and for Leinart, Williams, Colbert and SC's return to Tailback U., to add some serious black bruises to Arizona's school colors of Red and Blue.
SC puts up the highest point total since spanking Hawaii with 8 touchdowns and 2 field goals, while Arizona does not score until the fourth quarter, if they score at all.
USC 62 UofA 10