O/NSO - Fresno State edition

A red wave street fight disguised as a brash, edgy, and even cocky No.16 Fresno State (8-1, 6-0 WAC) is rambling down the famed Grapevine pass in search of the No. 1-ranked USC Trojans (10-0, 7-0 Pac-10), and they will find the defending two-time national champions willing and waiting on Saturday night (7:15 p.m., FSN) at a sold out Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Obvious – A red wave street fight disguised as a brash, edgy, and even cocky No.16 Fresno State (8-1, 6-0 WAC) is rambling down the famed Grapevine pass in search of the No. 1-ranked USC Trojans (10-0, 7-0 Pac-10), and they will find the defending two-time national champions willing and waiting on Saturday night (7:15 p.m., FSN) at a sold out Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – With the Trojans and the Bulldogs both sitting atop their respective conferences in November, it figures that this Bulldog-inspired grudge match has all the earmarks of a nasty California tussle, and it won't surprise the O/NSO if penalty flags are flying high and often as both teams possess an inordinate amount of testosterone. Credit Fresno State's intense and at times cantankerous coach Pat Hill for helping turn this baby in a World Wrestling Federation attraction and Trojan coach Pete Carroll for basically saying, "Bring it on, fellas." It's a rumble, folks.

The Obvious – The Trojans opened as 24 1/2-point favorites to defeat the Fresno State Bulldogs.

The Not So Obvious – Before you going running to your favorite gambling establishment, remember that in the past five seasons, Fresno State has gone 10-9 against BCS foes.

The Obvious – Saturday's night Coliseum kickoff weather forecast calls for a clear evening and in the mid-60s.

The Not So Obvious – The real weather forecast is whether a veteran Bulldog team can physically match the Trojans blow for blow. It remains to be seen whether Fresno State's respected running game can even make a dent against the Trojans' defensive front seven and whether senior FSU quarterback Paul Pinegar can keep the Trojans' secondary guessing. Whether the FSU defense, which ranks 14th in NCAA QB sacks, is ready for Matt Leinart and company remains to be seen, but it figures the game will come down to the Trojans' linemen on both sides of the line of scrimmage to show who's the boss.

The Obvious –Saturday night's Trojan game is a sell out, the third this season at the Coliseum (92,000) and the seventh of 2005.

The Not So Obvious –The largest crowd that Fresno State has played before this season was 58,201 at Oregon, the only game they have lost.

The Obvious – Saturday night's game will be telecast on FSN at 7:15 p.m. with Barry Tomkins, Petros Papadakis, and Jim Watson.

The Not So Obvious – To get Bulldogs fans in a positive mood, Fresno area channel 14 will replay the 1992 Freedom Bowl upset game on Saturday at 3 p.m.

The Obvious – A common September opponent this season for both Fresno State and the Trojans was the Oregon Ducks, who defeated the Bulldogs 37-34 at Autzen Stadium while the Trojan waxed the Ducks 45-13 in Eugene.

The Not So Obvious – In their loss at Oregon, Fresno State's skilled senior quarterback Paul Pinegar completed 33 passes (Autzen Stadium record) for 418 yards and three touchdowns. In the Trojans' victory at Autzen Stadium, Matt Leinart completed 23 passes for 315 yards and three touchdowns. Throw in the fact that the Bulldogs led Oregon 17-0 early and the Trojans trailed the Ducks 13-0 early, and Saturday's game has its share of intrigue.

The Obvious – Last Saturday afternoon in Berkeley, the Trojans, who now have won 32 consecutive games and an astounding 43 of 44, wore down the California Bears, 35-10, to erase the painful, triple-overtime loss in 2003.

The Not So Obvious – Last Thursday, the16th-ranked Bulldogs, who have won 14 of their last 15 games, ended Boise State's WAC recent reign, defeating the Broncos 27-7 for the first time since 2001 and positioning themselves for the Western Athletic Conference title.

The Obvious – At the end of Fresno State's big victory over rival Boise State, a record crowd of 42,781 chanted ‘Beat S.C." repeatedly.

The Not So Obvious – Young Trojan fans may be in for a shock when the Bulldogs' rabid Red Wave fans greet their team in the Coliseum. If anything, Trojan fans will be just as inspired to support their team after they get an earful of central California spirit. For SoCal fans that remember when Fresno State was in the Big West Conference, the Bulldog fan support was always impressive, especially when the Big West Basketball Tournament was held at the Forum.

The Obvious – The Trojans stay at a local downtown hotel in Los Angeles the night before a home game.

The Not So Obvious – Fresno State left Thursday night after practice and bussed their way into southern California and are staying at the Glendale Hilton. Pat Hill's club will do a Coliseum walk-through on Friday at 2 p.m.

The Obvious – Fifth-year Trojan head coach Pete Carroll is a former NFL head coach.

The Not So Obvious – Eight-year Fresno State head coach Pat Hills was an assistant for the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns.

The Obvious – Trojan coach Pete Carroll played his college ball at Pacific, where, according to Carroll, his Tigers beat Fresno State twice.

The Not So Obvious – Fresno State coach Pat Hill played his college football at UC Riverside where he was an All-America center and is in the UCR Sports Hall of Fame.

The Obvious – The Trojans' offense, which starts two sophomores, five juniors and four seniors, is averaging 48.4 points per game.

The Not So Obvious – The Bulldog defense, which starts three sophomores, six juniors, and two seniors, is allowing 14.7 points per game.

The Obvious – The Trojan offense, which is averaging 577.6 yards per game, proved last weekend against a physical Cal defense that they can march on long drives and adjust to whatever style of play they need to succeed.

The Not So Obvious – The Fresno State defense, which is allowing 305.6 yards per game, is led by senior defensive end Garrrett McIntyre (6-3, 250), who is the Bulldogs' version of a Shaun Cody. This kid, a former walk-on from South Lake Tahoe High, plays with a big motor and is a first-team All-WAC performer. A number of early season publications had this "find" the pre-season WAC Defensive Player of the Year. The fact he has six sacks let's Trojan fans know he comes to play. Say, did you forget the fact that McIntyre was also the Defensive MVP against UCLA in the 2003 Silicon Valley Classic? Okay, so the win over the Bruins really wasn't a classic.

The Obvious – The Trojans defense, which allowed 11.6 points per game in 2004, is allowing 19.5 points and 343.4 yards per game in 2005.

The Not So Obvious – The Bulldogs' offense is averaging 40.2 points per and 410.4 yards per game. This is may be the most balanced offense the Trojans have seen since their little venture into South Bend. In quarterback Paul Pinegar, tailback Wendell Mathis, and receiver Paul Williams, coach Hill has assembled a formidable unit along with the best offensive line in the WAC, led by senior tackle Dartanyon Shack.

The Obvious – It appears that Trojan junior middle linebacker Oscar Lua is returning to the starting lineup for the Bulldogs.

The Not So Obvious – In what should be a very physical game from the get-go, Lua is just the right guy when the bell rings for Round One. As the number one team in the country should, the Trojans have some big hitters and the Bulldogs might also wish to check their chinstraps when encountering the likes of Trojans Frostee Rucker, Scott Ware, and Rey Maualuga. Shhhhhh! And DB Josh Pinkard can lay a little Trojan kiss as well.

The Obvious – The Trojans have a nation-leading 32-game winning streak.

The Not So Obvious – Last week, the Bulldogs ended Boise State's 31-game WAC winning streak.

The Obvious – Most of the Bulldogs spent part of last Saturday watching the Trojans grind down the Cal Bears on ABC.

The Not So Obvious – In observing the Trojans on television and in the film room, Fresno State receiver Adam Jennings told the Fresno Bee "They're a team of stars on TV, You see them on the ESPN highlights and think these guys are the greatest team ever. In the film room, you're not looking at names. They don't look superhuman. You get to see the bad plays, the stuff not on 'SportsCenter.' You see mistakes and you have to figure out ways to exploit their weaknesses. It starts by seeing them as just another opponent and not as this invincible team."

The Obvious – The Trojan passing attack is averaging 334.3 yards per game.

The Not So Obvious – The Bulldogs' pass defense is allowing 189.4 yards per game.

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart, a Davey O'Brien Award finalist who is passing at a 66% rate with 23 touchdown passes, sent a chill through the final three defensive coordinators on the Trojan schedule with his two improvised running touchdowns last weekend at Cal.

The Not So Obvious – Fresno State senior quarterback Pinegar (6-4, 230) is also in the final 15 for the Davey O'Brien Award for best college quarterback, which says it all about the former Woodland High star. The fact that he is also a good runner will test the Trojan defense. He is the first quarterback at Fresno State to start as a freshman since some kid named Trent Dilfer in 1991. How tough is this kid? He played his final year in high school with a torn ligament in his thumb.

The Obvious – Fresno State used its scout team this week to emulate the Trojans' offense.

The Not So Obvious – Former Valencia High quarterback Sean Norton played the role of Matt Leinart. Norton who wore Leinart's famed No. 11 jersey during practice, said, "It's been fun acting like a Heisman Trophy winner and the fact that my family always has been big USC fans, I've really enjoyed this week."

The Obvious – The Trojan pass defense is allowing 226 yards per game.

The Not So Obvious – The Fresno State.passing game averages 232.3 yards per game.

The Obvious – The Trojans' standout sophomore receiver Dwayne Jarrett (14.8 ypc, 14 tds), could become the next cardinal and gold receiver to make All-America honors in just his sophomore season.

The Not So Obvious – Junior Bulldog receiver Paul Williams (6-2, 200) has such ability that coach Hill calls his skills "freakish." Williams' (19.1 ypc, 5 tds) brother, J.D., also played for FSU and was the Bulldog secondary coach in 2000-2001. This fine receiver knows the Pac-10 aura since his other brother, Curtis, played at Washington. Williams is another coach Hill find, recruiting this kid from Arvenal High in Arvenal, California

The Obvious – The Bulldogs secondary, which is reported to have a number of potential NFL prospects, certainly has not seen the awesome air attack the Trojans will dispense in the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – One Bulldog defensive back to keep an eye on is junior Richard Marshall (5-11, 190), who is third in the WAC in interceptions and second in fumble recoveries. If the last name of Marshall sounds familiar to Trojan recruiting experts, he is the brother of Alvin, once a highly-rated RB-WR out of Locke H.S.

The Obvious – The Trojans are rushing for 243.5 yards per game.

The Not So Obvious – The Bulldog's defense is allowing 116.1 rushing yards per game.

The Obvious – The Trojans running attack will give the Bulldogs' defense a heavy dose of Heisman candidate running back Reggie Bush (7.9 ypc, 11 tds) and lethal partner, LenDale White (6.4 ypc, 17 tds).

The Not So Obvious – Don't look now, but it appears that the Trojan offense seems to be getting serious about those short-yardage situations near the goal line and beyond as LenDale White has returned to his previous sledgehammer employment. If there appears to be a stretch drive, strategy evolution, White's appearance against Cal in similar situations seemed to be validated. Perhaps it's that Reggie is banged up, but it sure seemed like 2004 strategy.

The Obvious – The Trojans improving defense is allowing 116.9 rushing yards per game.

The Not So Obvious – The Bulldogs rushing attack is averaging 178.1 yards per game. Trojan fans might not remember the Bulldogs' 5-foot-9, 185-pound tailback Wendell Mathis (5.8 ypc, 13 tds), but the former Merced High star is a 2003 transfer from UCLA. Watching this kid run leaves no doubt that he is certainly at the Pac-10 level. The cousin of former UCLA basketball player Gerald Matkins, he showcased his skills earlier against Hawaii by rushing for 229 yards and three touchdowns.

The Obvious – The Trojans' offensive line is anchored by junior standout Ryan Kalil, a Remington Award candidate for the nation's top center.

The Not So Obvious – Fresno St. center Kyle Young, who according to writers in central California say he believes he would start for the Trojans if he played for them, certainly is confident about Saturday night's contest. After the big win over Boise St, Young said, "We can beat anybody in the nation, that's just how it is."

The Obvious - Respected broadcaster Fred Roggin of 1540 and KNBC, talked with center Kyle Young on his radio show on Tuesday.

The Not So Obvious – The Fresno center said his words were misquoted by the Fresno Bee reporter. Young said he had nothing but respect for Kalil (Yawwwwwwwwnnnnn). There was a lot of CYA coming out of central California this week and even coach Hill began his praise of the Trojans' offense with his wonderful comments about Kalil. This is one time the "Dogs" comments got out of the kennel.

The Obvious – The Trojans are averaging 67.4 yards in penalties per game, seventh in the Pac-10.

The Not So Obvious – The Bulldogs are averaging 80.2 yards in penalties per game, ninth in the WAC.

The Obvious – The Trojans' helmets have a Spartan head attached to the sides.

The Not So Obvious – The Bulldogs have a big letter "V" attached to the back of their helmets, which stands for "Valley," a respectful symbol for the Central Valley and the agricultural community.

The Obvious – There is no bigger special teams threat than the Trojan's Reggie Bush, punt or kickoff return.

The Not So Obvious – FSU is considered to have excellent special teams. Part of the reason is senior Adam Jennings (5-10, 175), who does it all on kickoff and punt returns and still manages to play wide receiver (13.5 ave, 3 tds). The Sacramento native is in the NCAA top 10 in both kickoff return and punt returns. Jennings averages 30.7 yards per kickoff return, third-best in the country, and 15.3 yards per punt return, No. 9 in the NCAA rankings. He is averaging 18.6 yards every time he touches the ball thus far.

The Obvious – One of the best weapons for the Trojans to deny Adam Jennings a chance for a big runback on the kickoff is a touchback.

The Not So Obvious – Freshman kicker Troy Van Blarcom is getting more comfortable with each passing game and has now accounted for 26 touchbacks on the season.

The Obvious – Outstanding Trojan punter Tom Malone has been plagued with a hip injury the entire season and it has affected his ability to practice and perform like the All-America punter that he has been.

The Not So Obvious – Fresno State kicker Clint Stitser will miss the rest of the season due to a hip muscle that has separated from his bone. Walk-on Kyle Zimmerman, who has handled the kicking duties in Stitser's absence, will continue to fill the role. Zimmerman has converted 14 of 15 extra points and 3 of 4 field goals, with a long of 29 yards.

The Obvious – Many fans are trying to get tickets and they are using StubHub and Ebay.

The Not So Obvious – As of mid-week, tickets were going on Stubhub for $139 - $530 per ticket and bidding on Ebay anywhere from $86 to $400. With 20,000 Red Wave fans coming down from central California, this actually could be a very tough ticket.

The Obvious – The Trojans hope to sweep their final two games and play for the BCS championship in the Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans will have a little extra reminder of their potential Pasadena outing as the ADT National Championship Trophy will be on display on the field during the game.

The Obvious – A future lineman for the Bulldogs is Joe Bernardi.

The Not So Obvious – Bernardi is the son of former Trojan coach Gary Bernardi, who was on the Larry Smith USC staff.

The Obvious – It is always interesting as a student to find out where your college professors received their degree.

The Not So Obvious – Twelve Fresno State professors have at least one of their degrees from Troy. Six of them hold degrees from both universities.

The Obvious – The Trojans have a fine history of quarterback in the NFL going back to the days of Bill Nelson and continuing with the likes of Pat Haden, Vince Evans, Rodney Peete, Rob Johnson, and now Carson Palmer.

The Not So Obvious – The Bulldogs can certainly stand tall in the NFL with the likes of David Carr, Trent Dilfer, and Billy Volek.

The Obvious – The Trojans will welcome national big-time recruits this weekend in heralded receiver Vidal Hazelton (6-3, 200) from Hargrave Military Academy (Chatham, VA) and running back C.J. Spiller (5-10, 185) from Union County High (Lake Butler, FL).

The Not So Obvious – It could be argued that it is always tough to get prep stars to commit, if they are coming from the Eastern seaboard. However, Pete Carroll's charm with players across the country is well chronicled. So how does a night game as opposed to a day game play in the eyes of these youngsters? There is a sense of Hollywood magic about a night game in the Coliseum and the stars will definitely be out in more ways than one.

The Obvious – Thanks to ABC, the Trojans' home finale against UCLA is on Saturday, Dec. 3, at 1:30 p.m.

The Not So Obvious – It's quite a Pac-10 television rivalry day on Saturday. While Trojan fans await the arrival of the Fresno State Red Wave, there are three games of rivalry interest. "Palouse this" Washington State" is at "No place for a Ty" Washington (12:15 p.m., FSN) in the Apple Cup, "What a bizarre season" Oregon State is at "Bring the Trojans on one more time" No. 10 Oregon (12:15 p.m., FSN) in the Civil War, and finally "We're melting" Cal at " Who knows" Stanford (4:00 p.m., ABC) in The Big Game.

The Obvious – The Trojans are only Fresno State and UCLA victories from a return trip to the BCS championship in Pasadena.

The Not So Obvious –In baseball, they call it the magic number and the Trojans' magic number is two. Win two games and it's on to the Rose Bowl. You've got to like the Trojans' chances with All-American quarterback Matt Leianrt on the "hill," the Trojans' version of Sandy Koufax. Play ball!


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