O/NSO - Stanford edition

Virginia Tech, Colorado St., and BYU were the satisfying hors d'oeuvres, but the top-ranked USC Trojans (3-0) now move on to the main gridiron buffet in anticipation of a prime cut of undefeated Stanford Cardinal (2-0) on the opening Pac-10 menu this Saturday afternoon in Palo Alto.

The Obvious - Virginia Tech, Colorado St., and BYU were the satisfying hors d'oeuvres, but the top-ranked USC Trojans (3-0) now move on to the main gridiron buffet in anticipation of a prime cut of undefeated Stanford Cardinal (2-0) on the opening Pac-10 menu this Saturday afternoon in Palo Alto.

The Not So Obvious – Before the Trojans can turn their attention to the likes of California and Arizona State, the Trojans must digest Coach Buddy Teevens' unblemished Stanford Cardinal, who last hosted a No. 1 team back in a 1989 but were put outside with a 27-17 loss to the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame.

The Obvious – The Trojans opened a 20-plus point favorite to quickly end the Pasadena dreaming of the Stanford Cardinal, who hope the ghosts of Jim Plunkett, John Elway, and even Chris Lewis can reincarnate in Cardinal quarterback Trent Edwards on Saturday afternoon.

The Not So Obvious – The combined record of opponents of the Trojans and Stanford is 4-7 and only Virginia Tech, SC's first victim, has a 2004 winning record (2-1). The only common opponent of the Trojans and Cardinal, of course, is BYU, for which both defenses gave up 10 points to the Cougars. The Trojans offense surprisingly scored only five more points than the Cardinal, 42 to 37 points, in comparison

The Obvious – Saturday's game will be televised by TBS at 4:00 p.m. (PDT) with the trio of Ron Thulin, Charles Davis, and Craig Sager.

The Not So Obvious – With the Trojans and the Cardinals coming in with high –powered passing offenses, when you include TBS commercials and incomplete passes, you may be well advised to plan your meals accordingly as this baby has all the earmarks of a four hour contest. In other words, consider the length of this game in the Gone With The Wind DVD category.

The Obvious – Weather in Los Angeles on Saturday is expected to be 86 and sunny.

The Not So Obvious – Weather in Palo Alto on Saturday is expected to be 78 and mostly sunny.

The Obvious – The Trojans hammering of BYU last weekend in Provo put Cougars' coach Gary Crowton on a hotter seat, and Troy could turn up be the same heat for Stanford's head football coach, who is 8-16 in two years at The Farm.

The Not So Obvious – Eugene Francis Teevens is in his third season as head coach of the Cardinal. Ooppps. I guess most of you know him as "Buddy" Teevens, who was once the assistant offensive guru of the Florida Gators and a quarterback at Dartmouth in the mid-70's.

The Obvious – As the Trojans head to Palo Alto for the 85th meeting between the Trojans and the Cardinal, we pause for a moment to marvel at the job Pete Carroll (32-9) has done in three short years after being hired by Mike Garrett, the Trojans' athletic director.

The Not So Obvious – Garrett was a guest this week with Fred Roggin on 1540 where he said before hiring Pete Carroll, he did extent a contract to Dennis Erickson, the former Oregon St. mentor and current San Francisco 49'ers coach. Iron Mike said that Carroll was always his number one choice who was always in the background. Garrett said that he had to "maneuver" to get Carroll. History has shown it was one hell of a "maneuver" by the legendary Trojan tailback and first USC Heisman Trophy winner.

The Obvious – When you are the No. 1 team in the nation like the Trojans, attendance on the road usually goes way up and usually presents the home team with a handsome payday.

The Not So Obvious – On Saturday, the No.1 attendance theory will be put to the test at Stanford Stadium, which holds 85,000. In their first two games in victory, the Cardinal has averaged just 35,625. Reports from up north say the Stanford is expecting somewhere between 55,000 and 60,000 fans.

The Obvious – The Trojans will test the Stanford defense with two of the best runners in the country in sophomores Reggie Bush and LenDale White.

The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal will showcase senior running back Kenneth Tolon (6-1, 210), the former Valley High star from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tolon, a sociology major, led the Cardinal in rushing last year with 475 yards and this season is averaging 4.2 yards per carry.

The Obvious – Trojan tailback Reggie Bush may have had only 34 yards rushing and no touchdowns against Stanford last year, but there is little argument this year Roadrunner Reggie has captured the attention of the Cardinal and the nation as perhaps the most feared offensive player on the college landscape.

The Not So Obvious – In the San Francisco Chronicle this week, Stanford assistant head coach Tom Williams said, "He (Bush) is the most versatile player in the country, and in my opinion, he's the best players in the country."

The Obvious - Reggie Bush may show up in any formation at any time and this is what concerns Buddy Teevens.

The Not So Obvious - While Bush is the man of many offensive formations, freshman linebacker Keith Rivers may become the Reggie Bush of the Trojans' defense. Rivers has been lining up in different defensive formations and is practicing at both linebacker and defensive end. Keep an eye on No. 55 when he's on the Stanford Stadium grass on Saturday.

The Obvious – The Trojans entered the season with three new assistant coaches in quarterback coach Carl Smith (Cleveland Browns), running back coach Todd McNair (Cleveland Browns), and linebacker graduate assistant Ken Norton, Jr.

The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal have new additions to its coaching staff in wide receivers coach Ken Margerum (NFL Europe – Scottish Claymores), running backs coach Jay Boulware (Arizona), and tight ends coach George McDonald (Northern Illinois). Two former Trojan coaches remain on Buddy Teeven's staff in defensive coordinator A.J. Christoff and offensive line coach Steve Morton.

The Obvious – As with most football games, turnovers will play a factor in Saturday's game.

The Not So Obvious – USC leads the country in turnovers (+3.0) while Stanford ranks fifth (+2.5).

The Obvious – The Trojans' offense is averaging impressive 38 points per game.

The Not So Obvious – Norm Chow's offensive machine will be challenged by a Stanford defense that has nine returning starters, six of whom are fifth-year seniors.

The Obvious –The Wild Bunch was the nickname for two of USC's most dominant defensive lines.

The Not So Obvious – Stanford's most legendary defensive line was known as The Thunderchickens back in 1970, and one of those members is Dave Tipton, current defensive tackles coach for the Cardinal.

The Obvious – Coming off a bye week, the Stanford offense is averaging 40 points per game having played San Jose State and BYU.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans will see a passing attack with not only good receivers but outstanding athletes, so it will be interesting to see the kind of heat that Ed Orgeron's defensive line can apply. The Trojans have still not seen a well-balanced attack this year, and the Cardinal doesn't figure to provide that type of challenge either. At this stage of the season, the schedule has not provided Troy with the type of offensives that resembles a University of California, No. 9 in the country..

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart continues to do a Heisman job for the Cardinal and Gold but enters the Pac-10 as a marked man by a parade of other heralded Pac-10 hurlers.

The Not So Obvious – With Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards this week followed by Cal's Aaron Rodgers and Arizona State's Andrew Walker, Leinart's ensuing performances will be as critical as any Trojan during this ultra challenging part of the schedule.

The Obvious – Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards (6-4, 210), who begins his third season in the Cardinal program and second year as a starter, is completing 54% of his passes and ranks 20th nationally in passing efficiency.

The Not So Obvious - Not bad for a kid who says his two favorite classes at Stanford are Sleep and Dreams and Buddism in Films.

The Obvious – Despite a new offensive line and new wide receivers, Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart has done a remarkable job of keeping his poise and has presented a new dimension with his improvised scrambling.

The Not So Obvious – Stanford presents Leinart a veteran secondary in seniors Leigh Torrence, Stanley Wilson, and junior T.J. Rushing, who have all been together the past two season.

The Obvious - The big hitter in the Stanford secondary is senior free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe (6-0, 205), a Second-Team All-Pac-10 selection as a junior.

The Not So Obvious – So how would you pronounce his name if you were on TBS doing the game? Okay, just pronounce his name oh-SHA-ma-go a-TOG-way. Feel better now? How about the fact that the three people Oshiomogho would most like to meet in history are Jesus, Muhammad Ali, and Bruce Lee?

The Obvious – Trojan QB Matt Leinart has thrown only one interception in three games.

The Not So Obvious – The Stanford defense has four interceptions in two games.

The Obvious – There has been healthy praise of the development of Tim Davis' young Trojan offensive line that did a fine job of being right enough times against BYU's goofy 3-3-5.

The Not So Obvious – Stanford returns two starters in sophomore offensive tackle Jeff Edwards (6-7, 290) and sophomore Ismail Simpson (6-4, 290). Before the season started, the Cardinal projected four sophomore starters, but the youngsters actually started a total of 24 games last season.

The Obvious – There is the old saying that great minds think alike.

The Not So Obvious – On the same Wednesday of this week, both Gary Klein of The Times and Todd Harmonson of the OC Register did some fine journalism in recognizing the positive development of the Trojans' offensive line. Klein concentrated on the growth of the line since Virginia Tech and points out how much the return of Alex Holmes has increased ground productivity. The Register's Harmonson focused on massive guard John Drake's leadership role. Best line in the story is Drake's secret to line success. "Line up, put your hand down, and just maul the guy in front of you," informs Big Bad John.

The Obvious – Trojan freshman defensive end Jeff Schweiger had a tough time last weekend against the veteran and sometimes "over-aged" BYU offensive line.

The Not So Obvious – Despite his tough education in Provo, Schweiger did have a sack and is amongst the top 3 sackmeisters on the defensive unit along with Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson. Saturday afternoon's game is a homecoming of sorts for Schweiger, who played his prep ball at San Jose Valley Christian High, where he had 18 sacks his senior year.

The Obvious –Saturday's tussle will spotlight the Trojans' secondary, which has not been truly tested but of whom Pete Carroll has gained confidence.

The Not So Obvious – If Saturday's game is turned into a one dimensional Stanford passing attack as expected, it will literally put the cameras on the Trojans' secondary, a group that has not seen a complete passing package this season, except in practice. Actions support the evidence that while the front seven appears to be national championship caliber, the secondary remains an unknown entity.

The Obvious - Carroll was not pleased with the second half performance of senior DB Ronald Nunn, who was beat deep for a 69-yard touchdown against BYU, and was yanked immediately in favor of redshirt freshman Eric Wright.

The Not So Obvious – Should Wright, a former San Francisco City Player of the Year, or a finally healthy Kevin Arbet start on Saturday, Carroll may be forced to consider the inexperienced potential of Wright over the experience of Arbet and Nunn in the biggie against Cal in two weeks. If Arbet can stay healthy, Carroll generally goes with experience, which may also give Nunn a second opportunity.

The Obvious – Trojan fans should be an eye out for Cardinal wide receivers Evan Moore, who was once the apple of Pete Carroll's eye and is averaging 16 yards per catch, and Mark Bradford, the former Fremont star, who comes in averaging 16.6 yards per catch.

The Not So Obvious – While Bradford is a fabulous athlete who may give the Trojans fits in the secondary, the Cardinal will look to the 6-foot-6, 235 pound Moore matching up with shorter Trojan defensive backs Justin Wyatt (5-9), Eric Wright (5-11), and Ronald Nunn (5-11). Look for the old jump ball toss to Moore when the Cardinal near the Trojan end zone.

The Obvious - Much has been written about the trials and tribulations of Trojans' strong safeties Darnell Bing and the big hitting of inexperienced junior Scott Ware, both of whom appear to be locked in a battle for a starting nod on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – Both figure to see stellar Cardinal tight end Alex Smith (6-5, 225) in their area. Smith is considered one of the most "prolific tight ends on The Farm in the past 25 years." In fact, the last six Cardinal tight ends since 1991 have been drafted or played in the NFL.

The Obvious – Stanford Stadium, host of Super Bowl XIX, in some ways resembles the pre-renovated Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – Unfortunately for fans going to the game, Stanford Stadium is almost universally agreed as one of the worst venues in the Pac-10 to see a game due to the track that separates the playing field from the stands. There are times at Stanford Stadium when one feels the need to use the Palamar telescope to view the action.

The Obvious – Trojan tailback Reggie Bush is know on the team as the "President," something that was acknowledged when Troy visited the White House last year for a recognition of the 2003 national championship.

The Not So Obvious – Stanford Stadium was Herbert Hoover's acceptance site following his nomination to run for president.

The Obvious – In Tom Malone, the Trojans have the No.1 punter in the Pac-10 (42.5).

The Not So Obvious – Cardinal redshirt freshman punter Jay Ottovegio from Coral Springs, Florida, has had four of his nine punts land inside the 20-yard line.

The Obvious – Star-crossed Trojan senior kicker Ryan Killeen is again taking heat for his two missed field goals at BYU.

The Not So Obvious – Stanford junior kicker Michael Sgroi had three field goals against BYU, a total of 19 for his career.

The Obvious – The Trojans freshmen class is continues to make progress after being called the top group in the country.

The Not So Obvious – While it seems the Trojans got almost everybody they approached, one player that got away from the clutches of Pete Carroll and Ed Orgeron is Stanford freshman Alex Fletcher (6-4, 290), an outstanding offensive lineman from Old Brookville, New York. The kid's father played ball at Princeton. By the way, if you're looking for a defensive back to replace Oshiomogho Atogwe, there is always freshman DB Wopamo Osaisai (6-0, 190) from Pinole, Ca.

The Obvious – The Trojans had 42 former players who began the 2004 season on NFL rosters.

The Not So Obvious – The Cardinal had over 30 former players that began the 2004 season on NFL rosters.

The Obvious – The big financial guru of the Oregon Ducks athletic department is Phil Knight, the founder of Nike.

The Not So Obvious – Phil Knight is listed as an alum of Stanford, and did you know a Stanford grad founded eBay?

The Obvious – Movie legend John Wayne is an alum and former football player for the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – If you're looking for some good material between now and Saturday's Palo Alto kickoff, check out the debut of legendary SoCal sportswriter Loel Schrader in the September edition of WeAreSC and his story on "The Duke." It was truly an entertaining piece of journalism.

The Obvious - The Spirit of Troy, the Trojan Marching Band, will make the annual trip to NorCal for the game.

The Not So Obvious – We are awaiting word on those loveable musicians of the Stanford band, who are facing a spanking because they made fun of the marital practices, namely the number of wives, of the Mormon faithful during BYU's Stanford Stadium visit.

The Obvious – The Trojans make their first appearance this season on TBS at 4:00 p.m.

The Not So Obvious – Okay, you want some pre-viewing of future Trojan foes? Well friends, start your afternoon with Washington State at Arizona (12:30 p.m./ABC) or channel surf at the same time slot with Washington at Notre Dame on NBC.

The Obvious – For Trojan fans that wish to ignore the TBS broadcasting team, there is always 1540, depending if you can get the signal, with Arbo, Mac, and J.J.

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps you might want a Cardinal prospective, so tune to KNEW 910 AM with Ted Robinson calling the action and the venerable Bob Murphy, who has been part of the Cardinal broadcast team for over 30 years.

The Obvious – The Stanford contest will mark the last Trojan road game for a month as Pete Carroll's boys will finally come back home and don those famous home uniforms for a trio of Pac-10 games against vaunted California, surging Arizona State, and those dogs from Washington.

The Not So Obvious – However, before the critical schedule return to the loving arms of the Coliseum, there remains those pesky Cardinals who would like nothing better than to provided the Trojan with some championshiptis interruptis or better known as upset indigeston.

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