The Not So Obvious – With help from new Harris Poll No. 3 ranking, the Trojans have returned to the BCS No. 3 position behind No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan. Sunday's AP and USA Polls had the Trojans No. 4, just a sliver of points behind No. 3 Florida Gators. With our best SEC friend Arkansas now ranked No. 7 in the BCS (No. 5 in the AP and No. 6 in the USA Today) and with our future best BCS No. 5 friend, Notre Dame (No. 5 in the USA Today and No. 6 in the AP), the Trojans are sitting cardinal and gold pretty.
The Obvious – Only a blocked field goal attempt by Florida's Jarvis Moss on a game-winning attempt by Stevie Spurrier's South Carolina club prevented the Trojans from a greater cushion in the BCS championship poll.
The Not So Obvious - It still figures that it will take more than a blocked field goal attempt by Jarvis Moss to keep the Trojans out of the BCS championship…if Pete Carroll's club can make it one win at a time. Ya think that beating two teams in the Top Ten at the end of the year, Arkansas and Notre Dame, would make a difference? Duh. If you're a Trojan fan, it's "Woooooo pig, Sooie!" and "Go Irish," next week. FYI, the Razorbacks are at Mississippi St. on Saturday while the Irish host Army in South Bend.
The Obvious – The Trojans have three games remaining against California, Notre Dame, and at UCLA.
The Not So Obvious – Let's get one thing straight. The Cal loss, which devalued Berkeley to No. 17 in the human polls, was not good from a computer standpoint for the Cardinal and Gold, but it really doesn't have a an impact on next Saturday's Rose Bowl decider. Regardless, the Trojans are realistically down to three bowl options. It will be either the BCS title game, the Rose Bowl, or the Holiday Bowl. Barring unforeseen circumstances, a win over the Bears eliminates the San Diego option on Dec. 28. Raise your hand if you'd be disappointed not being able to visit the San Diego Zoo after Christmas. Thought so.
The Obvious – With the Trojans' new lofty BCS status, writers from across the land are reviewing the merits of the Men of Troy and their national championship potential.
The Not So Obvious – Respected Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com wrote "We all wrote off USC too quickly after its 33-31 loss at Oregon State. The Trojans scored 35 points against a good Oregon team on Saturday night, and the statistics that stood out in the box score are these: Steve Smith caught seven passes for 88 yards and Dwayne Jarrett caught six passes for 54 yards and (Chauncey Washington) added a 43-yard run. The Trojans are healthy. That's why they still could win the national championship."
The Obvious – The Trojans opened last week as 8–point favorites to defeat the Ducks.
The Not So Obvious – If there was a big indicator on how things have turned around, it is the Trojans ability to finally out-point the point spread. There were no fourth quarter sweating or nervous twitches in Las Vegas, as the Cardinal and Gold showed they could continue to add to the scoreboard (21 points) on Saturday evening as opposed to last week's second-half offensive shutdown at Stanford.
The Not So Obvious – Perhaps it was a sold-out Coliseum that added extra folks, but it sure looked like one of the most attended Homecomings on the USC campus in some time. It was wall-to-wall folks and there were enough booths and activities to rival the Los Angeles County Fair. There was everything from a main stage near Tommy Trojan with bands playing non-stop to give-a-ways and photo opportunities. All in all, it was an exciting time to be a Trojan. Even some Oregon fans roamed the old campus and were impressed.
The Obvious – The Trojans expanded their winning streak at the Coliseum to 31 games.
The Not So Obvious – Attendance for Saturday night's Homecoming game against the Ducks was 92,000. Make no mistake about it, the masses were a 12th man for the Trojans from the time the team came out for warm-ups to the very end and even when many had left the Grand Old Lady. The remaining fourth quarter fans showed their displeasure with late Duck timeouts as the mallards were trying to score in the last minute of play. The Coliseum environment certainly wasn't anything the Ducks' faithful had seen since their last visit to Los Angeles in 2000.
The Obvious –Since he became Trojan coach in 2001, Pete Carroll's teams are 18-0 in November.
The Not So Obvious – For the record, if this doesn't get your attention as a fan or future opponent, how about the fact that the Trojans were 19-18 during Paul Hackett's three years at Troy and are now 62-11 since Pete Carroll was signed by Mike Garrett.
The Obvious – Saturday evening, the Trojans had 343 yards in total offense against the Ducks.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojans were averaging 402.6 yards in total offense, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference while the Ducks were allowing an average of 287.8 yards in total defense, second in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – It's hard to fault a Trojan offense that rung up 35 points against Oregon in a crucial Pac-10 eliminator.
The Not So Obvious – However, many on hand and watching the game on national television wondered why Trojan tailback Chauncey Washington carried the ball just 15 times against a reputedly poor Oregon rush defense. Yes, the O/NSO agrees that CW should be getting more touches and most certainly will now with the ankle injury to freshman Emmanuel Moody.
The Obvious - Unfortunately, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin brought the spotlight upon himself with an intended trick play by receiver Dwayne Jarrett, which turned into a drive-killing interception.
The Not So Obvious – Respected OC Register columnist Steve Bisheff, co-author of the popular book, Fight On, was especially harsh of the Trojans' play-calling in regards to John David Booty's early struggles and lack of offensive rhythm. Bisheff wrote, "Booty and the offense were pretty much out of sync much of the time. Part of it stems from offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's insistence on turning this into some kind of Finesse-R-Us playbook. If Booty and his receivers haven't already set an NCAA record for quick, short passes to the sideline, they will in the near future. And then there are the occasional, untimely gimmicks. Like the one in the third quarter with the Trojans, already leading 14-3 and about to put the Ducks away. With a first-and-10 on the Oregon 35, would a run from Mr. Washington been entirely out of the question? Instead, for some reason, Kiffin called a pass by Dwayne Jarrett, who happens to be the team's best receiver. All that proved is that Jarrett should stick to catching passes."
The Obvious – The Trojans first play from scrimmage was 37-yard reception from John David Booty to Dwayne Jarrett on a toss.
The Not So Obvious – The key block to spring Jarrett came from freshman Vidal Hazelton.
The Obvious – Headlines on the Trojans win varied among the media. The Times read "Back in the Bowl Business," the OC Register said "USC Back in Title Hunt," and the Daily News bannered "Back in the Race."
The Not So Obvious – The Oregonian headline on Sunday was "Long Night in Los Angeles," the Portland Tribune screamed "USC Pounds Ducks," and the local Eugene Register-Guard quietly printed "UO Winged by USC."
The Obvious – On Saturday evening, the Trojans passed for 176 total yards.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan passing attack was averaging 256.1 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference, while the Ducks' pass defense was allowing 142.1 yards per game, first in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – Trojan quarterback John David Booty completed 16 of 25 passes for 176 yards and one touchdown with one interception.
The Not So Obvious – Booty was probably given a bum rap for his early drive-killing interception by alert Oregon linebacker Blair Phillips. Although John David unfortunately gets credit for the interception, the O/NSO saw what Booty saw and that was a TD-written-all-over-it reception to Steve Smith, but Phillips just made a great play. What we liked about John David in this game was you could see he was changing calls at the line and it was working, and he was definitely reading the progression of receivers.
The Obvious – As the USC team walked by during the Trojan Walk, there was a Hollywood glow, as flashbulbs from fans made it look like a Tinsel Town premiere.
The Not So Obvious – As the players filed down the corridor of an increasing narrower and narrower path between the fans, Conquest played in the background and offense guard Alatini "Tiny" Malu was observed dancing to the beat of the Trojans' famed battle cry.
The Obvious – Trojan receiver Steve Smith caught seven passes for 88 yards, and All-American Dwayne Jarrett had six receptions for 54 yards and one TD.
The Not So Obvious - Boy, did Oregon coach Mike Bellotti's earlier week's comment ring true. Bellotti called Smith and Jarrett the best 1-2 receiving punch on one team in the nation. Jarrett may be the All-American in publicity and certainly is now beginning play like his press clippings, but Smith has become a major terror and certainly worthy at this point of All-American consideration. If Stevie doesn't get AA status, he will most definitely reap the rewards come NFL draft day, so help me Keary Colbert.
The Obvious – Former Trojan All-America and NFL Hall of Fame receiver Lynn Swann recently lost his bid to be elected as Governor of Pennsylvania.
The Not So Obvious – Lynn Swann cards were distributed to fans entering the Coliseum on Saturday night. Swann, who came to Troy as a quarterback out of San Mateo Serra High, played at about the same size as current Trojan receiving great, Steve Smith, but Smith (200 lbs.) was a bit heavier than Swann (180 lbs.) during their comparative playing days. Both are listed at six-feet tall.
The Obvious- Part of the amusing aspect of Homecoming on campus is the various exhibits, activities, and different sights that appear along the various walkways.
The Not So Obvious - One "exhibit" that caught the attention of the throng was a USC coed testing her bong drinking skills against a Texas rival. There is something to that Trojan and Longhorn rivalry. Heck, even a Sesame Street character was spotted in the party atmosphere.
The Obvious – The Trojans rushed for 167 yards on Saturday evening against the Ducks.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan rushing game averaged 146.6 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference, while the Ducks' rush defense was allowing 145.7 yards per game, eighth in the Pac-10 Conference.
Obvious – Trojan tailback Chauncey Washington rushed for a career-high 119 yards and three touchdowns.
The Obvious – It appears that freshman running back Emmanuel Moody is done for some time after suffering what appeared to be a serious ankle injury.
The No So Obvious – What a shame for the kid from Texas. You could see the injury unfolding before your very eyes. How many times have we seen a bent leg like that coming off a gridiron? Taken off on the cart before halftime, you knew by the way he walked out of the Coliseum tunnel on crutches that Emmanuel had the empty feeling that this year might be over. What this will do, however, is give freshman C.J. Gable, who had a two-yard scoring run behind fullback Thomas Williams, more opportunities and we think the kid will do just fine. Even Allen Bradford lined up at tailback and could provide help down the line.
The Obvious – The Trojans again used linebacker-turned-fullback Thomas Williams with much success on offense.
The Not So Obvious – Known as a fiery player on the field and a definite Coliseum crowd favorite, Williams made a couple of lead blocks, one which sprang Chauncey Washington into the end zone. On one particular short scoring burst by Washington, as the Trojans lined up in the I-formation, Thomas started clapping his hand as he settled into his three-point stance. You knew it was John McKay power football time from No. 41's body language and move the pile for his tailback he did.
The Obvious – Should the Trojans go to the Rose Bowl, one of the team activities is the traditional visit to Lawry's Prime Rib in Beverly Hills.
The Not So Obvious – Well, you don't have to a member of the Rose Bowl team to get a taste of Lawry's if you are attending the remaining Trojan home games at the Coliseum. Lawry's has set up a booth near Tunnel 5 and you can get a prime rib sandwich, creamed corn, and horseradish for $10.The early reports were the food was very good. Also, for you Christmas shoppers, Lawry's was also offering at their food stand a hardcover book describing all the years of bowl teams that have visited the famed restaurant. The book was being offered for $15.
The Obvious – On Saturday, the Ducks had 358 yards in total offense.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojans' defense was allowing 281.6 yards per game in total defense, first in the Pac-10 Conference while the Ducks were averaging 456.8 yards in total offense, first in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – The Trojan defense came out in a very physical fashion and while giving up big chunks of yardage at times, administered great chunks of pain, as well.
The Not So Obvious – One of those that brought the wood was safety Kevin Ellison (7 tackles), who left his calling card on the bodies of a number of Duck runners.
The Obvious - Referee for Saturday night's game was Jack Wood.
The Not So Obvious – Poor Jack. Not only was he obviously suffering from a heavy cold and could hardly get the words out during the first half on field rulings, but when he announced to the crowd there would be no media timeout, he was cheered. Of course after the long delay in a replay ruling, he was booed unmercifully when he came close to the stands.
The Obvious – One Trojan that got in a lot of playing time and made the most of it was sophomore linebacker Kaluka Maiava.
The Not So Obvious – Maiava finished with four tackles and was a force during his time on the field.
The Obvious – The Ducks passed for 256 yards against the Trojans' defense on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan pass defense was allowing 191.6 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – Duck quarterback Dennis Dixon completed 15 of 23 passes for 130 yards with one interception, and backup Brady Leaf connected on 13-of-22 for 104 yards and one touchdown.
The Not So Obvious - Dixon won't ever be confused with Vince Young and the Trojans made sure the former San Leandro star felt every love tap. As for backup Leaf, the only thing one can say at this point is that he is the brother of Ryan Leaf, the former Washington State star.
The Obvious – The Trojans spent a good deal of effort trying to stop physical receiver Jaison Williams (6-5, 243), the former Culver City High star, who had 71 yards on six catches.
The Not So Obvious – While the Ducks had the Trojans looking Jaison Williams, it was converted fullback-turned-tight end Dante Rosario, who lead the Ducks with 69 yards in seven grabs and burned the Trojans defense. When the Ducks were in a pinch, the former 2002 Oregon 2A state player of the year, was there to bail them out.
The Not So Obvious – What a wonderful night for Lo-Jack. In our O/NSO Oregon edition earlier this week, we wrote "Jackson, a real class act, is affectionately known as "Lo-Jack", but a practice observer commented this week if No. 96 doesn't get a sack soon, they'll have to change his nickname to "No-Sack-Jack." We look for Lawrence to break the sack drought soon." Voila!! With three sacks on Saturday to break the "no hitter," we will refer to No. 96 now as "Three-Sack-Jack."
The Obvious – Freshman safety Taylor Mays intercepted a pass by Dennis Dixon and returned it 38 yards to the Oregon 7-yard line, setting up Chauncey Washington's 5-yards scoring burst.
The Not So Obvious - Whoa, Nellie, Mr. Keith Jackson!!! Was that interception by Mays an exhibition of athletic greatness? The weaving and striding left more than one Trojan fan with their mouth wide open. The former Washington player of the year demonstrated why there had been so much attention paid to this kid during the recruiting process. Get it now? Don't forget, Taylor was also wide receiver and quarterback during his two-way time at Seattle O'Dea High, where he caught 36 passes for 765 yards (21.3 avg.) with 15 TDs and three rushing touchdowns.
The Obvious – The Trojans defense held the vaunted Oregon offense to 10 points on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday night's game, the Trojans' defense was allowing 15.4 points per game, first in the Pac-10 Conference while Oregon was averaging 36.3 points per game, first in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – In the third quarter, Trojan senior linebacker Dallas Sartz recovered a misguided pitchout from quarterback Dennis Dixon to tailback Jonathan Stewart at the Ducks 12-yard line to set up Chauncey Washington's second touchdown.
The Not So Obvious – Sartz, whom Pete Carroll considers one of his more disciplined and cerebral players, had a brain cramp when he administered an "obvious" late hit on Brady Leaf early in the fourth quarter. Pete Carroll, who loves his senior, went after him like nobody's business. It was so out of character between Sartz and Carroll that it grabbed the attention of the large Coliseum turnout.
The Obvious – The early portions of the game, especially the first quarter, seemed to move quickly.
The Not So Obvious – However after having to endure that 20-minute review fiasco eventually won by the Ducks, Trojan fans had enough near the end of the game and were chanting, "Hurray up and lose."
The Obvious – If nothing else, one of the major attractions of seeing the Oregon Ducks play is the anticipation of what uniform colors they will be wearing for a particular game.
The Not So Obvious – There were more than a few lady fans that were disappointed that the Duckies were wearing almost all white uniforms, except for their green helmet and numbers.
The Obvious – On Saturday, the Trojans were penalized 12 times for 87 yards.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojans were averaging 49.6 penalty yards per game, fourth the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – After every Saturday, ESPN comes on with its College Football Review show, which features Lou Holtz and Mark May.
The Not So Obvious – Normally, we don't get too fired up about what Hotlz says, but when the conversation turned to one-loss teams, he and May differed on the top three teams that should be considered for the BCS championship. May has been consistent from the beginning and his in-order top one-loss teams are USC and Arkansas with a tie between Florida and West Virginia. However, Holtz's top three in-order teams are Notre Dame, Arkansas, and Wisconsin, which should make Mrs. O/NSO, AKA " The Cheesehead," happy. No USC, Lou? Notre Dame then Arkansas, Lou? Couldn't be that you were head coach at both those schools? Please, somebody bring me a copy of Under the Tarnished Dome: How Notre Dame Betrayed Ideals for Football Glory by Don Yaeger.
The Obvious – The cover of Saturday's game program featured a collage of spirit photos including Traveler, Tommy Trojan, the Trojan Marching Band, the USC Song Girls, and a an end zone-to-peristyle view of the Coliseum.
The Not So Obvious – Two of stories in the best program in the Pac-10 was a piece written in the memory of the late Marlin McKeever and an interesting story written by Jeremy Wu on Trojan long-snapper Will Collins.
The Obvious – The Ducks rushed for 102 yards against the Trojans on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan defense was allowing 90.0 yards rushing per game, first in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – The Ducks sensational sophomore tailback Jonathan Stewart was held to just 42 yards on 14 carries.
The Not So Obvious – Talk about a bowling ball with speed, that's Stewart in the proverbial nutshell. While his numbers of carries (14) nearly rivaled those of Chauncey Washington, this kid is just a beast and a number of Trojan defenders were punished by Stewart's physical style of running. The Trojans, however, did a great job on defense of holding Jonathan to a long gain of just 12 yards. Part of the reason that Stewart couldn't get loose was the linebacking play of Keith Rivers (10 tackles) and Dallas Sartz (9 tackles).
The Obvious – The Coliseum is offering a number of new "eats" along outer shell of the famed edifice.
The Not So Obvious – Near Tunnel 1 there is the "Chicken on a Stick," which is an Hawaiian themed "eatery." For eight bucks, you can get a half a chicken (BBQ cooked right in front of you), white rice, and a salad. Mrs. O/NSO ordered it and it was well worth the selection.
The Obvious – As tradition, at the end of the pre-game warm-up session for the Trojans, John David Booty threw a deep touchdown pass to Dwayne Jarrett.
The Not So Obvious – The Oregon Ducks, following the Trojans return to their lockers, finished their pregame warm-ups by running to the closed end of the Coliseum with placekicker Paul Martinez kicking a field goal.
The Not So Obvious – Well after the hoop action had concluded, the O/NSO got our first glimpse of the inside of the Galen Center and, boy, this venue is a real sweetheart. That big window showing the skyline of downtown Los Angeles is stunning and the sightlines to watch a basketball game appear excellent. Both the lower and upper level seats put you right in the action. Pauley Pavilion, go to your room until you're called. Trojan basketball coach Tim Floyd wasn't giving some recruiting spiel when he said that no cost was sparred to make this an A-1 arena. About the only complaint might come from the media, which is placed behind the western baseline about 12 rows up.
The Obvious – There was a number of free stuff being handed out at Homecoming, one of which was free shirts from McDonalds in celebration of the return of the McRib sandwich.
The Not So Obvious – However, the most off-beat give-away was being handed out as fans were crossing Exposition Blvd. The free item? Individual fake breasts or as one fan called them, "a fake rubber boob." Is Dr. Sample aware of such adult humor being passed out during Homecoming (lol)? For the record, no, the O/NSO does not "support" such adult play toys.
The Obvious – And finally, for Trojan fans in southern California and across the country, things can't get much more exciting than what's happening now in November.
The Not So Obvious – Has this season begun to age you yet? Well, if it hasn't, the final three games with Cal, Notre Dame, and UCLA could turn your hair a grayish shade of cardinal and gold. Beginning with Cal this Saturday in the Coliseum, the stakes will get higher. If the Trojans continue to win, may be time to take some preventative follicle measures. Honey, can I borrow some of your brown Lady Clairol?