O/NSO - Observation edition

Thanks to Ohio State's dominating performance over the Texas Longhorns and combined with a bye week for the USC Trojans, the Cardinal and Gold were swept up in a whirlpool of schizophrenic poll-voting that when hung out to dry, found the Men of Troy ranked No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll and No. 4 in the Associated Press Top 25.

The Obvious – Thanks to Ohio State's dominating performance over the Texas Longhorns and combined with a bye week for the USC Trojans, the Cardinal and Gold were swept up in a whirlpool of schizophrenic poll-voting that when hung out to dry, found the Men of Troy ranked No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll and No. 4 in the Associated Press Top 25.

The Not So Obvious – Although the Trojans bye week may have had a direct affect in the voting process, the nation's voters also have gotten a good glimpse of Pac-10 teams and with early returns, one thing is quite clear, whether the rest of the conference likes the idea of Pete Carroll's dominance, the shaken image of the Pac-10 Conference needs a strong and dominating USC program to showcase West Coast football in the volatile weekly polls. To put it more bluntly, if the Trojans don't remain in the Top 10 throughout the season, it is clear from the early results, the image of West Coast football could be close to non-existent in 2006.

The Obvious – It was again a grab bag weekend of results for Pac-10 teams and the schedule maker wasn't helping matters.

The Not So Obvious - Of course, there was still main attraction between victorious No.1 Ohio State and "The Vince Young-less" Texas Longhorns in Austin for a Pac-10 distraction. One thing is for sure, while Buckeyes looked impressive and certainly deserving of No. 1. Pac-10 fans were holding their breath as No.18 Oregon survived at Fresno State. The balance of Pac-10 teams mostly struggled or lost, especially on the road, something that Pete Carroll's team has almost forgotten. So with this Trojan bye week coming to a conclusion, let's take snapshot look at our Pac-10 brothers and how things stand as we head into Week 3 of competition.

The Obvious – Let's first start with the national game between still No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes, whose defeat of the now No. 8 Texas Longhorns, 24-7, in Austin was the national main attraction.

The Not So Obvious – Right now, there should be no argument over who is No. 1 in the country. It is Thee Ohio State Buckeyes and they have proved it early on. The multi-talented Troy Smith at quarterback, who should be a Heisman Trophy frontrunner, runs a challenging offense along with junior running back Antonio Pittman and flashy junior receiver Ted Ginn. We were impressed with sophomore linebacker James Laurinaitis, whose father, Joe, was a professional wrestler known as "The Animal" of the Legion of Doom. You don't think those folks at the Tournament of Roses are dreading the thought of a national championship game between the Buckeyes and the Trojans in Glendale, Arizona? For the good folks in Pasadena, it's a real possibility, if the Trojans can uphold their end of the bargain and the Bucks don't die in Ann Arbor on November 18 against Michigan.

The Not So Obvious Next Saturday – For Jim Tressel's top-ranked fellas from Columbus, it will be Cincinnati in The Horseshoe. By the way, didn't you think the real highlight of Saturday night's game was that Woody Hayes look-a-like that was in the front row of the Buckeye stands? I mean the guy had the Hayes' body, glasses, hat, white-collar shirt, and the General's chin. Wowzers, it was Rod Serling eerie. Watching the game with some friends, Bob and Sue Harlan from Ohio, they almost had a coronary when they saw the incredible likeness of the Buckeye legend. Sue Harlan said, " I thought Woody was dead."

The Obvious – The Oregon Ducks (2-0) escape Fresno State, 31-24, in Fresno.

The Not So Obvious – Did you know that this was the 28th game that Fresno has played against BCS conference team in coach Pat Hill's 10th season? You have to also give the Ducks credit for playing in Fresno. You have to tip your hat to coach Mike Bellotti credit for calling that late fourth quarter fake field goal attempt, which turned into a four-yard option touchdown by kicker Paul Martinez. The real question now revolves around the health of injured sophomore prodigy running back Jonathan Stewart. It was Pat Hill's fifth loss to the Ducks and first at home.

The Not So Obvious Next Saturday – It's Oklahoma at Autzen Stadium and the "sooner" the better. Let's find out what this Ducks team is all about. Better yet, let's find out what uniform colors they will be wearing for their ABC telecast. Much will depend on the health status of Ducks' sophomore prodigy tailback, Jonathan Stewart, who was still feeling the pain of a sprained right ankle suffered against Stanford and had just one carry against Fresno. Of course the one carry was a 3-yard scoring run. OU's Adrian Peterson against the Duck's defense will make a fine afternoon of viewing for Trojan tailgating before the Cornhusker game in the Coliseum.

The Obvious – The Arizona Wildcats (1-1) get toasted 45-3 at LSU.

The Not So Obvious – Now here is a fine how do you do. What a disaster! What was more distressing for Wildcat fans or encouraging for Trojan fans? The fact that Mr. Stoops' vaunted defense coughed up 45 point to the Tigers or that the UA offense looked like "business as usual." Sure, Stoop's club will be primed in a few weeks to play the Trojans in Tucson, but really, this score is hard to ignore. When your "improved" Wildcat offense has only 54 yards through three quarters, it's a little scary for UA fans thinking of Nick Holt's Trojans defense after a performance by quarterback Willie Tuitama, who was eight for 17 for 50 yards and two interceptions. Ouch!

The Obvious Next SaturdayStephen F. Austin? Yes, Mrs.Bloomingdale, that Stephen F Austin. Oy veh!!! It's a misprint, right? Need we say more?

The Obvious – The UCLA Bruins (2-0) outlast Rice, 26-16, at the Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – So what do we make of our friends from Westwood? They seem to have an improved defense, thanks to the Trojans' attacking philosophy of new defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, a former USC assistant under Pete Carroll. Bruin quarterback Ben Olson is certainly talented, but having a tough night against the un-vaunted Rice Owls is a cold slap of reality. An interception and two lost fumbles are signs that Olson is still a work in progress. Needless to say, you take points anyway you can get them and kicker Justin Medlock's four field goals on Saturday evening helped save the Bruins' bacon. Guess Medlock was trying taking a cue from the Arkansas performance of Trojans' kicker Mario Danelo, who had three field goals in Fayetteville.

The Not So Obvious Next Saturday – Bye week. Let's all head to Juniors for a corn beef on a kaiser. On second thought, let's not because that easy one in Seattle against UW in two weeks may be more competitive than Bruin fans would like and future indigestion could be the order of the day. Yes, yes, we won't forget to mention that attendance for Saturday night's Rice game at the Rose Bowl was an announced 46,023.

The Obvious – The Cal Bears (1-1) put the screws to the Minnesota Golden Golphers, 42-17, in Berkeley.

The Not So Obvious – Well, there is nothing like playing in the friendly confines of Strawberry Canyon that helps erase the pain of the spanking given a week earlier in Knoxville. No shock here that Cal quarterback Nathan Longshore finally got untracked and threw for four touchdowns. Of course, the Golden Golphers' team speed will never make you forget the roadrunners from Knoxville. It's amazing how your offense picks up when you are playing a slower opponent. Nonetheless, the Bears look like they have recovered from opening day catastrophe and Bears' sophomore receiver DeSean Jackson had a big day with three touchdown grabs. Would you make a DeSean Jackson trade for Steve Smith? Didn't think so.

The Not So Obvious Next Saturday – Mighty Portland State. Yes, Portland State is next for the Jeff Tedford challenge. What could be worse than playing Portland State? How about the game starts at 3:15 p.m.? Now there's a new kickoff time. Did TV set the time on this one too? Why not get this started at 9:00 a.m. and get it over with?

The ObviousWashington (1-1) fades in the second half at Oklahoma as the Sooners pull away, 37-20, in Norman.

The Not So Obvious – So we were watching this one on the HD tube while writing a story for the November issue of WeAreSC magazine. Let's see, Ty's team showed a lot of spunk and it was 13-13 and maybe this was going to be the stunner of the day. WRONG!!! "Been there and done that" UW finally broke apart by the sound of that Sooner cannon and the arm of OU quarterback Paul Thompson. It didn't help matters with an Isaiah Stanback Husky fumble on the Sooner four. It was a good effort, however, and it looks like these Dogs may avoid the basement of the Pac-10 come season's end. Too bad ABC sideline reporter Bonnie Bernstein (photo) kept referring to the Husky QB as "Isaiah Stan-Bach." FYI, Bernstein graduated magna cum laude from University of Maryland with a degree in broadcast journalism and was an All-America selection in gymnastics and received the Thomas M. Fields Award for academic and athletic excellence.

The Not So Obvious Next SaturdayFresno State comes to the dog pound. Never mind, let's cool the optimism for a moment, even if the game is in Seattle. It will be dogs versus dogs. So which Washington and which Fresno State team show up? This one will be either a tasty salmon or the old Ben Franklin aphorism that "fish and visitors smell after three days."

The Obvious – On Thursday evening, Oregon State (1-1) is embarrassed at Boise State, 42-14.

The Not So Obvious – To think that at one time Mike Riley was once considered a strong candidate to succeed Paul Hackett as the Trojans' head man. Yikes! Who turned out the lights in Corvallis? The local hero Riley has to be feeling the heat from Beaver fans after that disaster in Boise. When your lone win is against Eastern Washington and you get panned in Boise, you got trouble both in River City and Corvallis, folks.

The Not So Obvious Next Saturday – Thankfully for the Pac-10 image, a bye is in order for the Beavers. Another disheartening loses and it could be the beginning of good-bye for Riley.

The ObviousStanford (0-2) blows a three-touchdown cushion and succumbs to frisky San Jose State, 35-34, at San Jose.

The Not So Obvious – Who cares that Stanford senor quarterback Trent Edwards threw for a career-high four touchdowns? It's that Cardinal defense that must have Trojan freshmen backs like C.J. Gable, Emmanuel Moody, and Allen Bradford licking their chops after SJS tailback Yonus Davis rushed for 184 yards.You know, somebody has to explain to the O/NSO why we could back in a hundred years and Stanford will still be losing to the likes of San Jose State. However, the good news is that we have found a legit candidate for the bottom of the Pac-10.

The Not So Obvious Next Saturday - Before all Cardinal fans go on a suicide mission before the season is even three weeks old, there is a light at the end of the Palo Alto tunnel. Next weekend the new Stanford Stadium is unveiled with the Navy sailing in as the inaugural game. One thing is for certain, if coach Walt Harris and his Cardinal lose this baby, they might want to consider leaving town in a Navy provided submarine.

The ObviousWashington State (1-1) routs Idaho, 56-10, in Pullman.

The Not So Obvious – Big win! Big win!! Big win!!! Idaho won't ever be mistaken for the Trojans, but Big Win for Bill Doba, the Cougs' friendly mentor. Well, you have to say that WSU can score, even if it's against the lowly Vandals. Cougar quarterback Alex Brink's three touchdown passes demonstrate that the kid can hit pay dirt when the opponent is the potato growers. WSU accounted for 637 yards in offense and that still is an impressive number no matter who the opponent is. Okay, so we're just trying to be nice.

The Not So Obvious Next Saturday – Here come the Baylor Bears of coach Guy Morriss! Let's see if Baylor can handle the atmosphere in the outpost called Pullman. Oh no, they won't be playing there? Seems the game will be played at Qwest Field in Seattle. Hey, tell the boys in Vegas to take this one off the board. Anyone for a guesstimate on attendance? Even if we toss in a free salmon give-away? The Cougs could stand a chance since the Bears might be caught with a letdown after playing feared Northwestern State in Waco.

The Obvious Arizona State (2-0) outscores Nevada 52-25 in Tempe.

The Not So Obvious – Don't look now, but the Sun Devils only gave up 25 points on defense. With surviving quarterback Rudy Carpenter tossing three touchdown passes and running for another, so what else is new in Tempe? All was not perfect for the former SoCal prepstar quarterback. One errant Carpenter toss was returned for a touchdown. Can the Sun Devils come to the Coliseum on Oct. 14 undefeated? Well, just know that before the Trojans in the Coliseum on Oct. 14, Dirk's boys travel to Oregon on Sept. 30. Any bettors in the house? Perhaps the bye week before the Trojans will allow a swing of emotions, depending on the Oregon outcome. Of course by that time, John David Booty might be the toast of the Pac-10.

The Not So Obvious Next Saturday – Let's travel to winless Colorado, shall we? Well, these are the times that try men's souls in Boulder, if not new coach Dan Hawkins' soul. If the Sun Devils barf this one up against the transitional ship known as the Buffs, these will be times that burn men's souls or Dirk Koetter's soul, as well, in Tempe. This one will be televised on TBS and viewer discretion is advised.

The ObviousNebraska (2-0) pounds Nicholls State 56-7.

The Not So Obvious – Having now watched the Cornhuskers on the tube, the offense of Bill Callahan looks well-oiled at times and the defensive ends are a bit*h. So how good are they? Good enough to beat up on two tomato cans and leave the stains. It should be a good test for Trojans, who hope to apply some spicy mustard to the Nebraska buns.

The Not So Obvious Next Saturday – Isn't this considered a rhetorical question?

The Obvious – The Trojan coaching staff has successfully made their personal appearances with high profile recruits across the country, and now,thankfully, the Trojans will return to playing football this Saturday in the Coliseum home opener.

The Not So Obvious – It seems like months since the Trojans opened the 2006 season in Fayetteville. With a return to the top five in all polls, the Coliseum should be rocking. Something tells the O/NSO that Trojan fans will be as up for this one as will Pete Carroll's team. In fact, it might be safe to say and both are on "schedule."


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