The Obvious and Not So Obvious

The Obvious and Not So Obvious column makes its debut on the front page of this site with a look at the bye week for the Trojans:

The Obvious - Ranked 11th and possibly climbing into the high rent district of national polls after this weekend's games, the USC Trojans prepare for their biggest game of the year this Saturday in Pullman, Washington.

The Not So Obvious - "Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" as the Beatles would scream, the Trojans don't play this weekend, but they will be rooting their collective cardinal and gold craniums off hoping for a Sun Devil victory.

The Obvious - With an Arizona State victory over Washington State, USC would control their own destiny and would be positioned for their best Rose Bowl run since 1995.

The Not So Obvious - First, in order to get to Pasadena, the Trojans would need to win their remaining Pac-10 games against Stanford, Arizona State, and UCLA. Certainly a very possible task considering the Trojans are a hot and confident club.

The Obvious - The last game of the season for the Trojans is against Notre Dame on November 30th on ABC at 5:00 pm.

The Not So Obvious - Dare we say that the Thanksgiving weekend with Notre Dame could decide the Rose Bowl for Troy or a Fiesta Bowl for the Irish. Shhhhhhh! "Shaft, shut yo mouth".

The Obvious - You can bet that every Trojan player, coach, and their massive fan base will be glued to ABC this Saturday at 12:30 pm to watch the clash between Pac-10 undefeateds Cougars and Sun Devils.

The Not So Obvious - Even though Washington State is playing in Pullman, hearing from Cougar quarterback Jason Gesser this week should give Trojan fans some hope based on last year's Cougars' performance in a big game. Gesser said this week, " We realize this is for the Rose Bowl. We have to go out there and show we deserve to be there and win this game."

The Obvious - Washington State quarterback Gesser seems to truly believe that this is "IT" for his team, almost a sudden-death Rose Bowl situation. "This is another game, but it's for the Rose Bowl, and we understand that, "said Gesser.

The Not So Obvious - This is the type of tenseness that could give Trojan players and fans some big hope. Last year, WSU was 7-0 until beaten by Oregon to destroy the Cougars' dreams of Pasadena. Reminded of last year, Gesser commented, " We came out kind of tight. Everybody was jittery. I was jittery for a couple of series and it showed. We just scored three points in the first half."

The Obvious - Washington State's Mike Price is on record this week as saying he is hoping for very, very cold weather and maybe some snow to add to his hometown advantage.

The Not So Obvious - Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter had a record of 4-0 at Boise State when it was 32 degrees or below. Temps at Pullman are forecast for the 50's and no snow.

The Obvious - Much of the Trojans' hope for a Arizona State upset rests with the throwing arm of Sun Devil quarterback Andrew Walter.

The Not So Obvious - As an added confidence builder for Trojan fans, ASU quarterback Andrew Walter was raised in Colorado and knows a thing or two about playing in the cold and snow.

The Obvious - The Trojans know how important special teams play are in big games , especially after the overtime disaster in Pullman.

The Not So Obvious - Another glimmer of hope for a Sun Devil upset is the fact that ASU kicker Mike Barth has made five straight field goals the past two games.

The Obvious - The Trojans' win at Oregon has set into motion the massive Trojan football Heisman publicity machine as Carson Palmer is scheduled to appear Saturday on ESPN's College GameDay.

The Not So Obvious - While Palmer has certainly earned the refocused love of the media and fans, let's hope that the "Carson For Heisman" campaign doesn't turn into an exploding cigar. Palmer has been down this not-so-yellow brick road before with some obvious speed bumps, and one wonders if this late Heisman rush doesn't add additonal pressure to his season that figures to get more intense, especially if Arizona Sate downs Washington State this weekend igniting a torrid ending to the season.

The Obvious - One of Palmer's biggest campaign boosters is Trojans' head coach Pete Carroll, who says of Palmer, "Carson is a tremendous candidate for the Heisman. I'am hoping we play well to the end of the season and enhance his chances."

The Not So Obvious - Palmer has been invited to play in the meat market evaluation carnival known as the Senior Bowl. Carroll gushes, "Carson's release to stay accurate is mechanically sound. Scouts will be wowed in the Senior Bowl. He'll blow them (NFL scouts) away!"

The Obvious - The Trojans have won three conference games in a row and appear to be the hottest team in the conference outside of Washington State and Arizona State.

The Not So Obvious - The biggest winner of the current streak very well could be the USC ticket office. The ticket office sells figure to ring up quite nicely with a hot Arizona State (homecoming) and the invasion of the Fighting Irish.

The Obvious - With the Coliseum being such a large facility with plenty of seats, ticket scalping except for prime locations, isn't as lucrative as it might be at Notre Dame.

The Not So Obvious -Notre Dame ticker brokers have been reminded just how important Irish winning is as brokers in the Midwest are selling regular $43.00 Irish tickets for between $295 to $650 for Saturday's home game against Boston College.

The Obvious - If the current pace of both the Trojans and the Irish continues, fans would be well-served to contact the USC ticket office and fork out the base price of $55.00 before the scalpers and ticket agencies take over.

The Not So Obvious - Of the current Irish ticket crunch, Bob Daul, a licensed ticket broker in Chicago, says, "Each (Irish) game is more and more hype. The prices are through the roof, and all it takes is a winner."

The Obvious - There are some Trojan fans that think that the bye week may hurt the Trojans' execution against Stanford.

The Not So Obvious - Pete Carroll has gone to great lengths to make sure this won't be the case. "Our (difficult) schedule has forced us to focus at all times, "said Carroll on XTRA. "We'll continue to add to the Stanford game plan and for the rest of the season."

The Obvious - The Trojans' lead the charge in asking the Pac-10 to ban those now-famous ThunderStix for next season.

The Not So Obvious - Trying to ease some of the tension for his big game this week against Arizona State, Washington head coach Mike Price joked that he wants to ban the constant playing of the USC fight song during games because the Trojans were behind the recent move to ban the ThunderStix at Pac-10 games next year. Price is joking, isn't he?

The Obvious - The Trojans are returning to Pac-10 prominence thanks to Pete Carroll's desire to build from the defensive side of the ball.

The Not So Obvious - Eight of the Pac-10 coaches played quarterback in college and the ninth - Oregon's Bellotti- was a wide receiver. Carroll is the only coach that played on the defensive side of the ball.

The Obvious - Trojan fans are chomping at the bit to find out what time the Arizona State game kicks off, especially since it's homecoming.

The Not So Obvious - Kick-off time will probably be decided by the winner of the ASU/WSU game. If ASU wins, then it figures to be a true Rose Bowl showdown game against the Trojans in two weeks and 12:30 pm curtain call.

The Obvious -The Trojans will be on ABC for the Stanford and Notre Dame extravaganzas.

The Not So Obvious - There is a limit to how many times the Trojans can appear on ABC, so the UCLA game may be farmed out to FOX Net and a potential 3:30 pm kick-off.

The Obvious - Should Washington State lose and the Rose Bowl race shifts to USC and Arizona State, the Trojans may have a scouting advantage since Arizona State's Koetter was a former Oregon offensive coordinator and the Trojans have just played the Ducks.

The Not So Obvious - According to Koetter, "In UCLA, Cal, Oregon, and ASU, we run similiar offenses. We run a true vertical passing game. We don't like to work hard for a two-yard gain." Seeing the same types of offenses week after week certainly doesn't hurt the Trojans' preparation.

The Obvious - Nobody was happier to beat the Oregon Ducks than the Trojans' receivers who had to endure "The Hotel Receivers' Billboard".

The Not So Obvious - Immediately after the game, the Trojans' receivers re-created the LA billboard pose in front of the Oregon fans and were photographed.

The Obvious - The Trojans receivers' post-game Oregon photo-op, which was rehearsed and planned by the players in the event of an Oregon victory, has become quite the rage on internet sites. In fact, it is almost impossible to not see it on any Trojan site.

The Not So Obvious - About the mocking pose after the game, precocious frosh sensation Mike Williams had plenty to say about the Oregon billboard. "What are they going to say?" said Williams. "That we copied them?If they want to come and put something up in our own backyard, you'd better back it up. We came out to prove a point and leave a bad taste in their mouths. Maybe next year they will put the billboard somewhere else."

The Obvious - It appears that Justin Fargas will get the start at tailback after his performance against Oregon.

The Not So Obvious - It would appear the reason that Fargas is getting the nod comes from a quote from freshman tackle Winston Justice who says, "When Justin runs as HARD as he did, it makes the blocking easier." Translation - Despite McCullough being a home run threat, the offensive line feels it's easier to block for the attacking Fargas and Justin brings "attitude". Don't count McCullough out. The kid is still a major threat.

The Obvious - The Trojan's coaching staff is more than pleased with the development of freshman tackle Winston Justice.

The Not So Obvious - On XTRA 690 Carroll said of Justice, " Early on, he didn't know what to do. During the first bye, it became an experiment and we said just do it.It was a great move.He's no longer surviving; he's a productive tackle."

The Obvious - Carson Palmer and the Trojan team had one of their finest games of the season against Oregon.

The Not So Obvious - The timing was good especially for Palmer. There were seven pro scouts at the game, including Paul Warfield from the Dallas Cowboys.

The Obvious - The Trojan victory over Oregon certainly was helped by a USC defense that stopped Onterrio Smith and his running game.

The Not So Obvious - Said Oregon center Dan Weaver this week of the Trojans' defense, "If we don't have a running game, we can't play-action, we can't boot - we can't set up our offense." Guess there isn't much left to do but punt.

The Obvious - With the much needed bye, the Trojans can heal both physically and mentally for the final four games while the coaching staff takes the opportunity to recruit around the country.

The Not So Obvious - If ever USC is to return to dominance in the recruiting world, this is now the time and the place. As Carroll said recently, "We're going out to recruit, recruit, recruit. This is a great time to sell USC football. A great time." It's enough to make John McKay smile.

 


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