The Not So Obvious – With Sunday's released BCS standings basically a status quo, No. 1 Ohio State (1.000), No. 2 Michigan (.926), and the No. 3 Trojans (.919), it would appear today that if the Rose Bowl were to be played on Wednesday, it would be the Trojans and the No. 4 Florida Gators (.884). Not a bad New Year's Day match-up in the opinion of the O/NSO. However, with No. 5 Notre Dame coming in at .820, next Saturday's game between the Trojans and the Irish speaks for its BCS self. One thing is for sure, no way and no how can we see Notre Dame ever passing up Michigan, not after UM dismantled the Irish 47-21 in South Bend on Sept. 16.
The Obvious – With so much at stake for the Trojans, don't expect a letdown next weekend against the Irish, even if Pete Carroll's club is a bit weary from their first two "playoff games."
The Not So Obvious – The Trojan letdown card was thrown out the window when only hours earlier an animated Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn and running back Darius Walker were caught on ESPN leading a Notre Dame Stadium post-game victory celebration by screaming "Beat SC, Beat SC, Beat SC" to the Irish student body. No doubt Pete Carroll will be a handed a copy of the ESPN video to recharge his troops, as if they really needed an extra helping of adrenaline for the arrival of the Irish next Saturday evening in the Coliseum.
The Obvious – The new human rankings were released Sunday morning and the Trojans are now No. 2 behind Ohio State in the USA Today and No. 3 in the AP behind Ohio State and Michigan.
The Not So Obvious – The big winner for the Trojans was Arkansas, a 28-14 winner over Mississippi St, which moved into the No. 5 position in both human polls. Since the AP poll no longer takes part in the BCS process, the USA Today poll is the one human poll that carries a lot of weight. Trojan. While there is still BCS decimal-point work to be done, it wouldn't hurt to start checking flights and hotels for Phoenix. Oh, you've already done that.
The Obvious – The Trojans will be rooting for No. 5 Arkansas to defeat LSU next week to keep their strength of schedule argument alive.
The Not So Obvious – The game will be played at Arkansas and the Trojans have some experience there and what it will mean for No. 8/9 LSU, who defeated coach Ed Orgeron's Mississippi club in overtime on Saturday.
The Obvious – The Trojans play Notre Dame next Saturday night at the Coliseum.
The Not So Obvious – Asked by the media after his victory over the Army if he had watched any Trojan video yet, Irish coach Charlie Weis replied, "Well, would you like for me to lie? I've watched every game, every play, offense, defense, special teams no, I have not watched every play on special teams. But I've watched every play on offense and defense. That, I can tell you. I'll be watching the USC Cal game in case you're wondering."
The Obvious – Saturday night's Trojan victory was the 32nd straight at the Los Angeles Coliseum,
The Not So Obvious – Respected Bay Area columnist Ray Ratto wrote, "The final score of 23-9 was, in fact, precisely indicative of the way the game went, because the difference between the 9 and the 23 were provided by two plays the Trojans made that the Bears couldn't keep them from making -- the difference between a team that's done it before, and a team that keeps trying to figure out how it's done."
The Not So Obvious – The blimp had a little extra for the Trojans' game as its electrical billboard displayed "USC."
The Obvious – The Trojans opened last week as 5 1/2-point favorites to defeat the Bears.
The Not So Obvious – If you need any further evidence that the Trojans are making their stretch drive, just follow the point spreads in recent weeks beginning with Stanford. Having soundly exceeded the opening lines, it will make for interesting conversation when the spread comes out for the Irish on Monday.
The Obvious – Prior to Saturday, Cal standout linebacker Desmond Bishop said, "I don't feel like the underdog. I feel like they're the underdog for some reason. I just have a good feeling about it."
The Not So Obvious – After the game, Bishop, who had a game-high 13 tackles, told the San Francisco Chronicle, "It definitely hurts, because our goals from the start of the season were to win the Pac-10 and play in the Rose Bowl. To get knocked off like that, it's really hard to swallow."
The Obvious – The Trojans scored 23 points on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan offense was averaging 32.0 points per game, third in the Pac-10 Conference while the Cal defense was allowing 20.1 points per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – The Trojans recorded their fifth straight Pac-10 championship.
The Not So Obvious – If ever a Trojan team earned a Pac-10 championship, this one really earned it. Obviously an inconsistent and in some ways a flawed team compared to the previous four Pete Carroll champions, this championship team is a late maturing boy-to-man club. Given its previous track record, the big difference between a month ago and raising another flag was Saturday night's stats which showed Cal couldn't get any turnovers and couldn't sack John David Booty. Add that to Cal's three turnovers and that's that, a Pete Carroll "It's all about the ball" ballgame.
The Obvious – Saturday night's attendance was announced as 91,672.
The Not So Obvious – There were some empty seat sightings in the last sections on either side of the peristyle end, but there was no mistaking the noise factor that was as good as the O/NSO has heard it this season at the Coliseum. You can bet that next weekend, the noise could be the best yet, but more on that in next week's O/NSO Notre Dame edition.
The Obvious – Pete Carroll, now in his sixth season as the Trojans' coach, is now 19-0 in November.
The Not So Obvious – After the game, the Peter Pan of college football looked very much a tired coach. At his post-game news conference, Carroll had the appearance of a player who had left it all on the field.
The Obvious – The Trojans had 358 yards in total offense on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojans were averaging 396.0 yards in total offense, third in the Pac-10 Conference while Cal was allowing an average of 378.5 yards in total defense, ninth in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – The happiest man in the Coliseum after the game may have been Trojan offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, who has been under intense scrutiny on his offensive philosophy and play-calling.
The Not So Obvious – For the most part, the young coach done good. Many of his calls that didn't come to fruition were caused by the lack of execution from his players. The fourth-and-two call that eventually ended up in a Steve Smith 37-yard touchdown reception could have been a disaster at the highest level, but players still make the plays and John David Booty made his play-calling coach proud with his progressions. In that instant of perfect execution, Kiffin was deservedly and immediately taken off the media and Internet bulls eye for this week.
The Obvious – On ESPN's popular GameDay early Saturday morning, Lee Corso picked Cal while Kirk Herbstreit selected the Trojans.
The Not So Obvious – Host Chris Fowler felt that it would be the performance of Cal quarterback Nathan Longshore, good or bad, that would determine the outcome. Herbstreit felt that the Trojans would win because of the improvement of Trojan quarterback John David Booty. While we're on the record, Corso also selected Michigan to beat Ohio State. After the Trojans' victory, Herbstreit felt that Michigan deserved a rematch, but called the Trojans the "X" factor if they can win out.
The Obvious – The Bears scored 9 points on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojans' defense was allowing 14.8 points per game, first in the Pac-10 Conference while the Cal offense, was averaging 34.7 points per game, first in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – Dwayne Jarrett had five receptions for 66 yards and a touchdown.
The Not So Obvious – Was Jarrett's 25-yard fourth quarter score vintage Dwayne or what? It reminded the O/NSO of the fourth quarter of last year's Rose Bowl against Texas, when he also made a big touchdown catch, which also laid out two Longhorns. It's been a difficult season for the New Jersey native, but he is in his "stretch" drive and it couldn't have come at a better time for Booty and the Trojans.
The Not So Obvious – In an ironic bit of foreshadowing, Page 3 featured a full color shot of Dwayne Jarrett catching a touchdown pass in the peristyle end zone, something he would repeat against the Bears in the fourth quarter on Saturday night. Speaking of Kalil, Ryan was seen after the game with arm around Will Ferrell heading toward's the Coliseum tunnel.
The Obvious – Steve Smith caught six passes for 88 yards and a touchdown.
The Not So Obvious – Don't know who will be Pac-10 player of the year, but if Stevie doesn't get some votes, close down the voting booth. If John David had been a little more on target, Smith would have easily cracked the 100-yard mark in receptions on Saturday evening. While his 37-yard touchdown pass was the dagger, what was overlooked was his selling job on Cal's celebrated corner Daymeion Hughes, who bit on Steve's "run blocking" fake. As Steve was heading into the end, he couldn't help but look back at Hughes, knowing he had snuckered perhaps the best corner in the country.
The Obvious – As is tradition, the University of California Marching Band made its way to Los Angeles for it's yearly trip and performed a pre-game and halftime show.
The Not So Obvious – The Bear fans should have know it might not be a good evening in the Coliseum as during the pre-game show, one of the Cal tuba players fell down during the performance.
The Obvious – The Bears had 275 yards in total offense on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, Cal was averaging 430.8 yards in total offense, second in the Pac-10 Conference while he Trojans' defense was allowing 290.1 yards per game in total defense, first in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – Sunday's southern California headlines: Making a bed of roses (LA Times), USC outgrinds Cal (OC Register), and Rosy outlook for Trojans (Daily News).
The Not So Obvious – Sunday's northern California headlines: History isn't made (SF Chronicle), This one gets away (San Jose Mercury), Roses are red USC, Cal is blue (Oakland Tribune), and 48 years and counting (Contra Costa Times).
The Obvious – Gary Klein is the Times beat reporter covering the Trojans.
The Not So Obvious – If you noticed, Klein's Times byline was replaced by David Wharton. Not to worry for you Klein fans, Gary's daughter was playing for a CIF Division ll-A volleyball championship at Cypress College in conflict with Saturday night's game and the paper urged him to attend a once-in-a-lifetime event. The scribe made the right call. For the record, the decision was not only right call, but his daughter's school, Pasadena High, won their division of the CIF and finished 30-0. It should also be noted the Bulldogs were lead by USC-bound Kimmee Roleder, who had 43 kills.
The Obvious – David Buehler, the Trojans JC transfer from Santa Ana College, kicked a 49-yard field goal in the third quarter tied the game at 9-9.
The Not So Obvious – An earlier 55-yard field goal attempt by Cal's Tom Schneider fell short No question that Buehler's field goal ignited his team and the crowd. Pressure? The transfer only had an ABC national television audience, 91,000 live fans, and was undergoing his first Trojan field goal attempt ever in his biggest game ever, so who was more nervous, David or his parents? Not bad for a kid from Anaheim Canyon High who was once also on the golf team.
The Obvious – Trojan quarterback John David Booty, who finished 18-of-31 after a shaky first half of completing 5 of 12 passes for 69 yards, passed for 238 yards and two killer fourth-quarter touchdowns against the Bears.
The Obvious – The Trojans passing attack had 238 yards on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan passing attack was averaging 247.2 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference while the Cal pass defense was allowing 250.3 yards per game, last in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – The score at halftime was Cal 9, USC 6.
The Not So Obvious – As the teams left the field, their competitive nature did not as Cal wide receiver Robert Jordan from Hayward continued to hurl taunts as the Trojans went up the Coliseum tunnel. That's what a lead will do for your confidence. In fact, why wouldn't Cal have liked their halftime position? They had two turnovers to the Trojans zilch and still led by three points.
The Obvious – Trojan Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott was on the sidelines on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious - Wrote OC Register columnist Mark Whicker, "Ronnie Lott was the chiropractor's best friend. He had more skeletons in his closet than the whole House of Representatives. He thought football was a game of X's and Ohs. That's why Lott is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and why a big it at USC is pretty much measured on the Ronnie scale. On Saturday night, Kevin Ellison unleashed what had to be an 8.5. Ellison caught (DeSean) Jackson right under the chin, and Jackson's helmet came off, and when Jackson finally rose to his feet, he didn't stay there long. He went to the bench and the Cal trainers gathered waiting for "Tubular Bells" to quit playing inside Jackson's head."
The Obvious – Coming out of halftime and down by three points, Trojan fans were uplifted by the fact the Men of Troy would be receiving the second half kickoff. The Trojan promptly passed four plays and punted back to Cal, and more than one section in the Coliseum groaned, with many figuring this baby was going to be decided in the fourth quarter.
The Not So Obvious – Wrote San Jose Mercury's Jay Heater, "As the fourth quarter began and fog sifted into the aging Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday evening, Cal looked across the line of scrimmage and found itself facing an entirely different opponent. There stood USC, but not the team that had been stymied for the first 45 minutes by a terrific Bears defensive effort and was locked in a 9-9 battle of wills. These were the No. 4-ranked Trojans with a 31-game home win streak on the line, the guys who were shooting for at least a share of their fifth consecutive Pacific-10 championship, the dynasty that still had national-championship hopes. In those final 15 minutes, Cal was no match."
The Obvious – There was no question that in the secnd half, Nick Holt's defense ratcheted up the intensity and desire to control the vaunted Cal offense.
The Not So Obvious – The third quarter stop of Cal with second and then third-and-1 with Nathan Longshore being stuffed was the beginning of the end for Jeff Tedford's men. You could also hear the air going out of the Cal balloon as the Trojan's defense pulled out the "man card" and turned two scrimmage plays into a street fight. The Trojans then scored on their next two possessions to add injury to insult.
The Obvious – The Trojans rushed for 120 yards on Saturday evening against the Bears
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan rushing game was averaging 148.4yards per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference while Cal's rush defense was allowing 128.2 yards per game, seventh in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – Trojan freshman tailback C.J. Gable, the game's MVP, garnered a career-high 91 yards on 19 carries.
The Not So Obvious – Freshmen running backs Emmanuel Moody and Stafon Johnson are outstanding talents in their own right, but from the very beginning, sans Allen Bradford who was still on defense at the time, we felt Gable was ahead of the curve. Once again, Gable confirmed that he is still at the head of the freshman running class. Put another 15 pounds on this kid and look out college football. As for Bradford, reports out of practice this week was that he was running great but just didn't get his opportunities to carry the ball. Bradford did make a number of fine plays, however, in his stints on the field.
The Obvious – The Trojans alternated sophomore Patrick Turner and junior Desmond Reed as punt returners.
The No So Obvious – Neither one is a threat to do much of anything as the Pac-10 stats show, but at this point, Desmond seems to be the better decision-maker when it comes to catching the ball or letting it bounce.
The Obvious – The Bears had 99 yards rushing on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan defense was allowing 91.3 yards rushing per game, second in the Pac-10 Conference while Cal's rushing game was averaging 164.4 yards per game, third in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – The Bears' gifted Marshawn Lynch, the Pac-10 rushing leader, gained just 88 yards on 20 carries.
The Not So Obvious – Bears fans, don't put your loss at the feet of Lynch, who was still trying to make it happening, even to the point of having a long fourth quarter touchdown called back by Pete Carroll's favorite "further review."
The Obvious – A large number of fans were watching the Ohio State/Michigan game on large screen televisions throughout the tailgate areas.
The Not So Obvious – The game was also on radio and a number of fans were listening to former Trojan radio voice Larry Kahn and former Trojan football coach John Robinson describing the action from Columbus.
The Obvious – The Trojan marketing folks have a real winner when they play Emenim's "Lose Yourself" as the team comes out of the Coliseum tunnel.
The Not So Obvious – Well, will somebody please wake up the floor manager? In the past, the intense opening to "Lose Yourself" is played as the team comes down the tunnel and into the mouth of the Coliseum, NOT when they are already on the field and ready to run to the sidelines. Mama Mia!!! If you also want to do it as the team comes down the tunnel for the second half, again, don't wait until they team is already on the field. It's a great new tradition to get the crowd to greet their heroes, but it's anti-climatic when the Men of Troy are ready to do battle.
The Obvious – The Trojans looked to be in big trouble in the first quarter when Dwayne Jarrett lost the ball and an alleged fumble was returned for an apparent Cal touchdown.
The Not So Obvious – After a replay review, the call was overturned by referee Jay Stricherz and the video board showed Marcus Allen clapping along with the rest of the throng over the reversal.
The Obvious – Both Trojan field goal kickers, Mario Danelo and David Buehler, made field goals on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – With Danelo the short kicker and Buehler the long kicker, should we now refer to them as Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside?
The Obvious – Trojan freshman safety Taylor Mays made his second big interception in as many big-game weeks.
The Not So Obvious – You know, it's really kind of scary how good this kid will be in the future. One of the things we like is ability to come up and lay a lick on somebody, a part of his game that some had doubts upon his arrival at Troy.
The Obvious – One of the keys to stopping Cal was to prevent DeSean Jackson from getting a big punt return.
The Not So Obvious – An overlooked play in the second quarter was an outstanding tackle by Trojan freshman Shareece Wright that pinned the Bears back at their own 10-yard line.
The Obvious – The Bears passed for 176 yards against the Trojans' defense on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan pass defense was allowing 198.8 yards per game, fifth in the Pac-10 Conference while Cal's pass offense was averaging 266.4 yards per game, first in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – Bears' quarterback Nathan Longshore completed 17 of 38 passes for 176 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions
The Not So Obvious – Earlier in the week, Longshore said, "We tried to stay focused on every game, but I'm sure SC has been in the back of our minds for quite some time." Prior to Saturday, Longshore had struggled, throwing six interceptions and seven touchdown passes in the past five games. No doubt that the Trojans will be in the front of Nathan's mind for a long time to come. The Trojans got to him enough to show some happy feet in the pocket.
The Obvious – DeSean Jackson, the Bears national leader with four punt returns for touchdowns and the Pac-10 leader with nine TD receptions, caught two passes for 41 yards and returned two punts for no yards.
The Not So Obvious – Is there any question that Jackson's world was turned upside down by the early first quarter hit by Trojan safety Kevin Ellison? DeSean was never really the same after that as the Men of Troy used physical intimidation by also lining up linebacker New Jersey mauler Brian Cushing on top of the former Long Beach Poly star and then the great work of corner Terrell Thomas, who played a series of "mind games" on Jackson by using different style of attack modes. It was another irony that Terrell was also a feature article in Saturday's game program.
The Obvious – With the Trojans again making a national championship drive, albeit without the star power of a Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, a number of Hollywood celebs made their appearance on Saturday night.
The Not So Obvious – Fans along the closed end of the Coliseum were delighted when The Unit, "24", and All-State commercial's Dennis Haysbert came to the front rows of Section 16 and 15 to say hello to Trojan fans. Naturally, Will Ferrellgot a rousing ovation when his picture was flashed on the Coliseum video board.
The Obvious – There was a nice turnout of Bear fans all dressed in the their blue and gold.
The Not So Obvious – They tried to make their voices heard, but when you're stuck in Sections 1 and 2 of the gigantic Coliseum, you might as well be watching the game from Victorville. Of course it wasn't hard to recognize some Cal fans, some who followed the tradition of blue and gold spiked hair and other body punctures.
The Obvious – As the Trojans keep rolling along, more and more former players roam the Coliseum.
The Not So Obvious – Former Trojan tackle and NFL lineman John Michels was seen purchasing some of that tasty Kettle Korn. Michaels was also displaying a rather large rock of a sports championship ring. Let's put it this way, the size of the ring was so big that the O/NSO could have climbed in it and used it as an inner tube at Wild Rivers.
The Obvious – On Saturday, the Trojans were penalized 10 times for 71 yards while the Bears were flagged 3 times for 22 yards.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojans were averaging 50.8 penalty yards per game, fifth the Pac-10 Conference while Cal was averaging 53.7 penalty yards per game, sixth in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – Trojan running back recruit Marc Tyler of Oaks Christian broke his ankle on Friday night in a 70-9 victory over St Bernard.
The Not So Obvious – According to Saturday's Ventura Star Free Press, "Tyler suffered the injury on a 22-yard gain at the 6:22 mark of the first quarter, and was taken by ambulance to Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center for treatment. The USC-bound senior was tackled by St. Bernard's Kyle Smith and landed awkwardly on his leg, leaving little doubt his season and a chance to break the state's all-time career mark for rushing touchdowns are over." Tyler is now replaced by fellow Trojan verbal, safety Marshall Jones, who is a standout running back in his own right. The O/NSO was told by a source at the game that the injury was quite gruesome and that were three breaks. The good news was that the source was told that Marc, who also had a steel rod inserted, would be healed in 8-10 weeks. Good news, indeed.
The Obvious – There were a number of recruits on hand for the game, a number of who have already committed to the Trojans like linemen tackle Martin Coleman of Huntington Beach Edison and Michael Reardon from Orange Lutheran.
The Not So Obvious – One interesting verbals was not a Trojan commit. Peninsula lineman Todd Huber, who has given his word to the Cal Bears, was on the Trojans' sideline. Todd, who performed this summer in the Trojans' linemen camps, has a brother, Scott, who once donned the cardinal and gold.
The Obvious – Last week, the O/NSO mentioned about Lawry's having a booth on the outer portion of the Coliseum.
The Not So Obvious – Well, Mrs. O/NSO was chomping at the bit to sample the prime rib sandwich. During the second quarter, she decided to get two sandwiches for herself and yours truly. For $10, it was well worth it and the creamed corn wasn't too bad either. We passed on the horseradish, but all in all, we highly recommend it. The Lawry's booth is located near the Coliseum press box elevator. If you need further directions, go to Mapquest.
The Obvious – The Trojans peristyle end again offered autographs from past Trojan stars.
The Obvious – The UC Irvine Anteaters does not field a college football team.
The Not So Obvious – On the Trojan sidelines during pre-game was UCI athletic director Bob Chichester, who succeeded Dan Guerrero, who is now the athletic director for the Westwooders. Don't count on the "Eaters" assembling a search team for Pac-10 football consideration.
The Obvious – And finally, when Trojan defensive back Mozique McCurtis made the final play of the game with a Cal interception, it was appropriate that a defensive player allowed the four-time defending champs to defend their Pac-10 title.
The Not So Obvious – Well Trojan fans, does it get any better than this for the final two week of the season – Charlie Weis 'Notre Dame and Karl Dorrell's UCLA – both played in southern California? Don't know about you, but it sure surpasses any outstanding Thanksgiving dinner(s) we'll attend. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the next two Saturdays promise to be anything but turkeys and please pass the cranberry sauce.