The Not So Obvious – Having won 55 of their last 58 games and now No. 2 in both the AP and USA Today, the Trojans need only to defeat UCLA for the eighth straight year to punch their ticket to Arizona to face the No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes. Oh, what a difference the last four weeks have made after the disaster in Corvallis. Yes, it seems like a lifetime ago since that dreary day in Oregon, but that fall-short comeback attempt has turned a negative turned positive. Now, it's only appropriate that next Saturday's date with UCLA is all separates the Men of Troy from a Rose Bowl U-turn to Glendale, Az.
The Obvious – The Trojans' BCS average was .946 while Michigan's was .922.
The Not So Obvious – If it was baseball and you were judging .300 hitters, you say that is quite a difference, although both "hitters" are pretty darn good. While the Trojans were rejoicing with the good news, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were forced to deal with reality that they dropped out of the automatic BCS top eight-teams berth. With the latest demolition of ND by the Trojans, the South Benders must now be selected as an at-large team, which naturally brings a smile to all Trojan fans everywhere.
The Obvious – Prior to Saturday's game between the Trojans and Notre Dame, former Irish coach and ABC game analyst Bob Davie told the LA Times' Larry Stewart "On paper, it's a very close, high-scoring game that should go down to the wire. These are two evenly matched teams."
The Not So Obvious – Well, coach, it certainly didn't turn out that way and earlier in the day, a number of vocal Trojan fans did a little smack talk on the former Irish coach as he was part of the ESPN GameDay menu. After the game, Davie praised the Trojans and felt Nick Holt's defense was outstanding. The broadcast trio of Musburger, Davie, and Herbstreit all agreed after the game that the Trojans were much deserving of facing Ohio State in the BCS championship.
The Obvious – Since the Trojans 33-31 loss at Oregon State on Oct. 28, the Trojans have outscored their opponents 144-43.
The Not So Obvious – You know, for many of the old guard John McKay fans, what the Trojans have done this season is not unlike what many saw during the 1960's and early 1970s. McKay's teams also had their "lack of focus" during during the mid-season, but when it came down to the end of the season and the national championship light could be seen at the end of a Rose Bowl tunnel, his boys were dynamite. If this year's Carroll team has something in common with those McKay teams, it's when there the golden apple was to be taken, both eras rose to the occasion.
The Obvious – Saturday night's Trojan victory was the 33rd straight at the Los Angeles Coliseum,
The Not So Obvious – For those Trojan seniors who leave the University never having lost to Notre Dame, it will take a lifetime to truly appreciate it. For Notre Dame, you can bet this loss for those Irish seniors was the worst yet to the Trojans, especially being thrown to the lions in the deafening roar of 91,800 in the Coliseum. The last thing Brady Quinn and company wanted was to be victim No. 33 in what has become one of college football's most intimidating edifices, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Obvious – Prior to Saturday night's game, neither Pete Carroll nor Charlie Weis had lost a game in November.
The Not So Obvious – For Carroll, he closes out another November without a loss and extends his streak to 20-0. Weis not only suffered his first November loss, but Charlie also suffered his first regular season road loss as the Irish head mentor.
The Obvious – The Trojans opened last week as 7 1/2-point favorites to defeat the Irish.
The Not So Obvious – It was an interesting line this past week because it didn't seem to change much. The fact that the Trojans were well over the spread continues to show growth from the mid-part of the season, when the Trojans were going through their "spread" growing pains. Perhaps the biggest message sent to the college football world is that these Trojans have yet to put it all together but may do so in the final two games. The Trojans' second quarter from Hades, John David Booty's two interceptions and the blocked punt, might have spelled disaster during the mid-season, but there is no disputing that at this point the team is clicking despite the self-inflicting gridiron wounds. Imagine what might have happened to the poor Irish had there had been to no mistakes by the Trojans in the second stanza.
The Obvious – The Trojans scored 44 points on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan offense was averaging 31.3 points per game, third in the Pac-10 Conference while the Irish defense was allowing 20.1 points per game.
The Obvious – For the most part, Trojan offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin did another fine job of play-calling and the coach appeared to be in a zone like his players.
The Obvious – Three Irish tormentors, Trojans Charles White, Sam Cunningham, and Anthony Davis were part of a free ESPN autograph booth, which also included popular ESPN drive-time host Colin Cowherd.
The Not So Obvious – While many Trojan fans wanted to get items signed by the Trojans' legendary trio, a large group of fans wanted to just talk with Cowherd, who arguably has developed into the nation's hottest national sports radio talent.
The Obvious – Saturday night's attendance was announced as 91,800.
The Not So Obvious – It was hard to imagine the crowd to be anymore intense than it was on Saturday evening. What was interesting to the O/NSO was that while it was no surprise that the Irish fans were put up into the corners of the peristyle end of the Coliseum, there was one section behind the Irish sideline that seemed to also be a designated ND section and they did make their presence felt, albeit on rare occasion. For the most part, the crowd understandably in the fourth quarter became somewhat complacent.
The Obvious – On Saturday morning's South Bend Tribune, there was a feature on matchups, including coaches. The SB Tribune wrote "Weis has yet to lose a road game in two years at ND, and that's a telling note. But none of those wins have come over a team the caliber of USC. EDGE: USC."
The Not So Obvious – You go to give the hometown newspaper credit, they hit this one on the head. The Irish weekly football publication Blue and Gold wrote "This game (USC) will be a huge referendum for Irish defensive coordinator Rick Minter. The Irish cannot afford to lay a defensive egg." Anyone care for bacon and eggs to celebrate the Trojan victory over the Irish?
The Obvious – The Trojans had 404 yards in total offense on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojans were averaging 392.1 yards in total offense, third in the Pac-10 Conference while the Irish were allowing an average of 312.9yards in total defense.
The Obvious – The Trojan surpassed their total offense yards per-game average against the Irish by 12 yards.
The Not So Obvious – You know, this game could have been worse for the Irish, much worse. Take out the two Booty interceptions and the blocked punt and this game could have easily ended up with the Trojans entering the "50 Club" on offense. What the O/SNO liked about the Trojan offense was their resilience, regardless of the down and distance. Most Trojan fans know that given the option, Pete Carroll loves to roll the dice in the red zone and go for it on fourth down. No problem here and we love Mario Danelo has the Trojans' field goal option.
The Obvious – On ESPN's popular GameDay early Saturday morning, Lee Corso picked the Trojans.
The Not So Obvious – After the game, Corso raved about the Trojans' defense and as did Herbstreit. It appears the Trojans have crossed the last threshold in gaining the popular vote for No.2 in the country. Even Herbstreit mentioned that his beloved Buckeyes would be strongly tested by the Trojans if the two should meet in Arizona. Herbie said, "It would be USC's speed versus Ohio State' speed."
The Obvious – Traditionally, the Trojan Marching Band enters the Coliseum from the famed tunnel.
The Not So Obvious – Saturday evening, the TMB entered the Coliseum through the arches of the peristyle end. The O/NSO has seen this on special occasions and we recall, before the portable bleachers, a time when it was quite a spectacle to see Dr. Arthur C. Bartner's band make such a grand entrance.
The Obvious – The Irish scored 24 points on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojans' defense was allowing 14.2 points per game, first in the Pac-10 Conference while the Irish offense, was averaging 33.2 points per game.
The Obvious – Boy or boy is Charlie Weis eating his share of crow after his week's comment's about having watched every down of Trojan football this season.
The Not So Obvious – If Brady Quinn hadn't been able to complete a couple of long bombs, especially the his first throw of 38 yards to Rhema McKnight past Trojan defender Terrell Thomas, what was left to say about the Irish offense? Perhaps next year in South Bend, Weis won't have his team in such a crusade to beat the Trojans. Of course, next year is South Bend, so maybe that plays to his constituency. Yes, his offense could have scored more points had they not self-destructed along the way, but the Trojans' defense had a big say in the manner in which the Irish fell off the wagon.
The Obvious – Saturday' game program featured Trojans receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith on the cover.
The Not So Obvious – It was a pro-rated program as the cost increased to $7 per copy, up from the "normal" $5 per issue.
The Obvious – The media spent much of the week describing the differences between Trojan coach Pete Carroll and Irish coach Charlie Weis.
The Not So Obvious – Carroll was dressed in his usual Trojan white collared shirt and dress pants as opposed to Weis, who wore a gray Notre Dame hooded sweatshirt and sweatpants.
The Obvious – The Notre Dame Pep Band made its way to Los Angeles for the first time in memory.
The Not So Obvious – It was a nice invite by coach Charlie Weis to have the Irish Pep Band come to the Coliseum. Although you could hardly hear them, the ND Pepe Band was located next to the Irish bench on the peristyle end of the Coliseum. Rumor is that Weis wants the entire band to come to Los Angeles for the 2008 game. We can tell you this from first-hand experience, if the Irish bring the whole unit, you will hear them and they are good. On a personal note, we hope they come and bring the Irish Guard with them. Good show, folks.
The Obvious – The Irish had 404 yards in total offense on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Irish were averaging 397.5 yards in total offense while he Trojans' defense was allowing 288.6 yards per game in total defense, first in the Pac-10 Conference.
The Obvious – Sunday's southern California headlines: USC earning its letters (BCS) (LA Times), USC enjoys breeze (OC Register), and A moving experience (Daily News).
The Not So Obvious – Sunday's national headlines: Irish jolted early, late in loss (Chicago Tribune), For Irish, no national title (Chicago Sun-Times), and USC throttles Notre Dame in familiar fashion (South Bend Tribune).
The Obvious – Two of the major columnists in Los Angeles are the Times' Bill Plaschke and T.J. Simers, both of whom sung the praises of the Trojans' victory on Saturday night.
The Not So Obvious – The South Bend Tribune, which covers all those is Notre Dame, has their own version of the two Times columnists in Jason Kelly. Of Saturday night's Irish flogging, Kelly wrote "For a while there, it looked like ESPN started a blowout channel and replayed highlights of recent Notre Dame trips to the Los Angeles Coliseum on an endless loop. Names and numbers had changed, but the live events of Saturday night's 44-24 USC runaway felt way too much like Memorex for sensitive Irish tastes."
The Obvious – Saturday night's game was especially meaningful to the Trojans' Desmond Reed, whose career was in jeopardy last season when he suffered a near catastrophic leg injury in the high grass of Notre Dame Stadium.
The Not So Obvious – So which moment got you emotional for Reed's heroic return against the Irish? Was it his big 43-yard punt return that set up the Trojans' second touchdown in the first quarter or was it his 11-yard run right before the end of the game?
The Not So Obvious – The Irish fans, perhaps sensing an extraordinary effort by "cardinal and gold" fans, dressed in all sorts of outfits and green and gold clothing. For the most part, the Irish fans were very gracious in defeat or maybe they are just used to it at this point.
The Obvious – Mario Danelo kicked a 34-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
The Not So Obvious – Although he wasn't used much, don't underestimate the importance of Danelo's field goal in the fourth quarter to squelch any momentum the Irish were building. Had Mario missed, you know how that one goes in firing up the opposition.
The Obvious – The Trojans passing attack had 265 total yards on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan passing attack was averaging 250.0 yards per game, third in the Pac-10 Conference while the Irish pass defense was allowing 186.1 yards per game.
The Obvious – Trojan quarterback John David Booty, who completed 17-of-28 passes and was intercepted twice, passed for 265 yards and three touchdowns.
The Not So Obvious – Oh what a baptism under fire for John David. Was there anybody in the Coliseum or watching TV that didn't feel like the wheels were coming off the JD after the two interceptions and then the apparent ankle injury? It could have been devastating for No. 10, given the circumstances and what was at stake. After halftime, Booty came out like he did to start of the game and kept the heat on the Irish. We liked again how he changed plays at the LOS and some were darn good changes based on the Irish intentions.
The Obvious – The Trojans' All-America receiver Dwayne Jarrett finished with seven receptions for 132 yards and three touchdown receptions (5, 9, and 43 yards).
The Not So Obvious – Okay, let's just say it. Dwayne is on a NFL draft mission statement. Let's face it, he has not had an All-America season and his draft status might have made some in "The League" think this could be another Mike Williams in the making. However, that astonishing one-handed grab could almost reach out to April and the NFL draft. Anthony Davis might be the all-time Irish nemesis with 11 career touchdowns, but Mr. Fourth-and-9" could be second on the all-time "Hate the Trojans" ND list.
The Obvious – As the game wore on, the suspect Irish offensive line started to waiver and so did the pain of losing again to the Trojans.
The Not So Obvious – After the game in comments to the Chicago Sun-Times, former Trojan recruit and Irish starting tackle Ryan Harris said of playing in a bowl game, "Of course we know we have another game to play, to lose like that as a senior, and to know that you don't have another chance at USC, nothing can make that better."
The Obvious – Trojan receiver Steve Smith had another outstanding evening with three catches for 35 yards.
The Not So Obvious – Stevie could have had two scores, but he was just inches short of the goal line on one great catch, and he would probably admit he should have gathered in a long strike from Booty but just missed. BTW, who says the Trojans don't recruit the Chicago area well? Beside having Chicago Simeon defensive end recruit Martez Wilson this weekend, did you know that Steve Smith's grandmothers, Mildred King and Lois Smith, live in the Windy City ? Smith told the Chicago Sun-Times that one of his grandmothers used to live across the street from Comiskey Park, home of the White Sox, and he would go there every summer.
The Obvious – Trojan tight end Fred Davis had three receptions for 33 yards.
The Not So Obvious – And you thought the Trojans had forgotten about old Freddie? Davis made some big plays and some big blocks and it was good to see him again be part of the offensive reception team. Hard to believe that a few years ago this kid was a wide receiver, but that shows you what a weight program will do for ya.
The Obvious – The Trojans rushed for 139 yards on Saturday evening against the Irish.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan rushing game was averaging 142.1 yards per game, fourth in the Pac-10 Conference while the Irish rush defense was allowing 126.8 yards per game.
The Obvious – The Trojans' offensive line gave John David Booty plenty of protection on Saturday night.
The Not So Obvious – The Irish defensive line had a tough time rushing Booty. Only senior linebacker Joe Brockington from Palmyra, Pa., could get to John David for a sack.
The Obvious – The Trojans true freshman running back C.J Gable rushed for 107 yards on 20 carries.
The Obvious – The Irish had 130 yards rushing on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan defense was allowing 92.1 yards rushing per game, first in the Pac-10 Conference while the Irish rushing attack was averaging 123.7 yards per game.
The Obvious – Naturally, the local papers sang the praises of Pete Carroll and his relentless program, calling the Irish schedule of military schools and lesser-knowns as poor preparation to play a team of the Trojans' level.
The Not So Obvious – In his analysis, the Chicago Sun-Times' Vaughn McClure wrote "So, why did the Irish lose? They gave up too many runs up the middle and gave Jarrett (seven catches, 132 yards) too much space. And the Notre Dame offense had some uncharacteristic flaws, including questionable play calls. ND twice opted for pitchouts that went for negative yardage, and Rhema McKnight had two crucial drops outside of his touchdown. Quinn had an OK game (22-for-45, 274 yards, three touchdowns) but was on the run for a nice chunk of it. And the offensive line picked up some crucial penalties."
The Obvious – The officiating crew was from the Big Ten.
The Not So Obvious – The referee for Saturday's game was Dennis Lipski and he showed his Midwest roots when he said, "A sideline warning on Southern Cal." Oh no, Dennis, the O/NSO knows people from your part of the country refer to USC as Southern Cal, but you better know on page two of the Trojans' media guide such reference is a violation.
The Obvious – There were tons of media roaming Exposition Park and one of the participants was ESPN national radio.
The Not So Obvious – One of the "voices" of the national radio broadcast during the after was former LSU coach and Notre Dame All-America guard Gerry DiNardo.
The Obvious – There were tickets to be had for those who came to do a little bargaining.
The Not So Obvious – The on-site StubHub booth had tickets on game-day selling for for as low as $165 in Section 13, Row 93.
The Obvious – There was, of course, the usual avalanche of tailgating, and many Trojan fans from all walks of life spent time having interaction with their Irish rivals.
The Not So Obvious – Before the game, The O/NSO spent some time with Bruce "The GM" Bagni and Frank Cushing, father of Brian "Run Back The On-sides Kick" Cushing. Frank was out here for the game from his hometown in New Jersey and gave a glimpse into a Trojan parent's busy schedule. Mr. Cushing would leave for a business trip to Memphis after the game, but will return for the UCLA game. Such is life for an out-of-state Trojan parent.
The Obvious – The Irish passed for 274 yards against the Trojans' defense on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojan pass defense was allowing 196.5 yards per game, fifth in the Pac-10 Conference while the Irish pass offense was averaging 273.7 yards per game.
The Obvious – Irish senior quarterback Brady Quinn completed 22 of 45 passes for 274 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions and also rushed for 74 yards.
The Not So Obvious – Quinn showed some nervousness at times that cost the Irish, especially as the Trojans' pass rush became a factor as the game went on. Those sacks by Dallas Sartz, Sedrick Ellis, and Fili Moala can take some of the starch out of the blue and gold collar.
The Obvious – Irish receiver Rhema McKnight caught six passes for 109 yards and one touchdown while teammate Jeff Samardzija had six receptions for 79 yards and one TD.
The Not So Obvious – While both had their moments, it appeared that McKnight, who was also a standout basketball player at local La Palma Kennedy, was afflicted by a sudden case of "short arms" on passes that should have been completed from Quinn. That's what Kevin Ellison's hit on Cal's DeSean Jackson the previous week had on the Irish film session this week and don't doubt that for a minute, good readers. As for Samardzija, he is one tough customer for a Chicago Cubs minor league pitcher. If there was a glaring hole for Notre Dame, it was the loss of starting tight end John Carlson, as replacement Marcus Freeman was a mixed bag of success.
The Obvious – Prior to the game, the Trojan senior ran through the Heritage tunnel for one last ovation from the fans.
The Not So Obvious – The Trojan Football Alumni Club was part of the celebration tunnel and was wearing red Trojan shirts with the back reading "McKeever, No. 86," a tribute to the recent passing of former All-America linebacker Marlin McKeever. It should be noted that the first Trojan out of the tunnel was celebrated walk-on receiver Ben Malcomson, the former Daily Trojan writer who beat all odds and is the Trojans athletic version of "Rudy."
The Obvious – The Trojan Walk, the major event when the Trojan team walks through spirit line of fans, was without a doubt the most crowded the O/NSO has seen since its inception.
The Not So Obvious – Even Pete Carroll said after the game in his post-game radio show that he couldn't believe how big the Trojan Walk was on Saturday. Carroll laughed and with pride said, " It was extraordinary. I thought they were going to rip the clothes off our back."
The Obvious – Fans from both camps talked about last year's thriller in South Bend, which finished with Matt Leinart's heart-stopping quarterback plunge, assisted by the "Bush Push."
The Not So Obvious – During the Trojan Walk, the O/NSO was standing with Bob Leinart, father of Matt, and how ironic that next to Bob was a fan wearing a photo of Matt's famous quarterback keeping Irish beater. The O/NSO asked Bob if Matt would be watching the game and he replied, "Probably not since the Cardinal were flying to Minnesota for Sunday's game." Somehow we think Matt probably found a way to stay abreast of all the action in the Coliseum.
The Obvious – On Saturday, the Trojans were penalized six times for 42 yards while the Irish were flagged eight times for 39 yards.
The Not So Obvious – Prior to Saturday, the Trojans were averaging 52.8 penalty yards per game, sixth in the Pac-10 Conference while the Irish were averaging 56.0 penalty yards per game.
The Obvious – No question that the Trojan pre-game sideline was as crowded as ever with celebs, recruits, former players, and support group folks.
The Not So Obvious – It was quite a moment when former Trojan All-America offensive linemen Brad Budde, Roy Foster, and Pat Howell came together with teammate hugs. These legends are three of the greatest offensive guards in Trojan history and they sure looked like they could have stepped right in on Saturday evening to lend Pat Ruel's unit a helping hand.
The Obvious – Seventy-five members of the Notre Dame Marching Band were in attendance on Saturday evening.
The Not So Obvious – The ND band members were placed on the press box sideline around the 15-yard line on the peristyle end. It was enjoyable to hear what little you could hear of them, considering they were just yards away from the entire Trojan Marching Band. As a nice courtesy, ND band director Ken Dye, a former Trojan music graduate, was honored by directing the Trojan Marching Band in the playing of the National Anthem.
The Obvious – The Trojans rolled out the cardinal carpet for many of the nation's premiere football recruits.
The Obvious – There was a list of celebrities released by Heritage Hall prior to the game and it was a very impressive array of talent from all walks of the entertainment and sports field.
The Not So Obvious – Naturally, actor/comedian Will Ferrell was in attendance and drew a large response when he was shown on the Coliseum video board. And wasn't that WeAreSC publisher Garry Paskwietz standing next to the famous Trojan alum? One fan on the sidelines during warm-ups was beyond excitement when he yelled up into the stands, "I just got the cover of my game program signed by James Caan."
The Obvious – It figured that the parking sharks in the area would be taking full advantage of a big game and all signs pointed to $100 lots.
The Not So Obvious – Not so, Mrs. Murphy. The high-end lots the O/NSO usually takes its annual pulse were charging "just" $80 per car.
The Obvious – And finally, near the end of the game, there was the loudest chant of "We Are…SC" we have heard in the Coliseum in a long time.
The Not So Obvious – On behalf of the staff, we thank all the Coliseum fans for the free plug of our site. Now it's one final week and déjà vu all over again as those UCLA Bruins stand between Pasadena and Glendale, Az. Common Trojan fans, you know you wouldn't want it any other way. Next stop, Pasadena…for now.