As we all know, one of college football’s most anticipated games is upon us. The Buckeyes will face the Trojans in the ‘Shoe this weekend, to try and gain some revenge after their defeat in Southern California last year.
We all know what Ohio State fans are talking about, revenge, home field advantage, freshman quarterback, new defense, etc. But what about those USC fans? What are they talking about?
Roy Manukyan is a junior at the University of Southern California studying accounting. He has grown up in the Los Angeles area and has always been a USC fan. A year ago, Roy was predicting big things out of running back Joe McKnight, and predicting a close USC win over Ohio State. But after last year’s performance, what are students at USC thinking and feeling about this weekend’s big show?
“USC students are confident and excited,” Manukyan said. “Because of the result of the last game, there seems to be a lower level of excitement than a year ago. There is no question, however, that this game is much more meaningful to the future of the USC Trojans.”
However, Maukyan was a little more hesitant to admit personal belief in an easy USC victory.
“We are expecting a victory, though my personal opinion is that it is going to be much more difficult than most students anticipate,” he said.
Coach Jim Tressel is highly regarded around Ohio State, but lately, some have been questioning his decision-making. Tressel does not have a great record in non-conference games on the national stage.
But, nonetheless, you can find t-shirts that read “In Tressel we Trust,” or posters boasting Tressel’s impressive record against Michigan.
Coach Pete Carroll is arguably one of the most impressive and successful coaches in college football, and that idea is not lost on USC students.
“The general mantra around campus is ‘In Carroll We Trust,'” Manukyan said.
That is what Manukyan, along with other USC students and fans tell themselves when they consider that USC is playing their first true freshman at starting quarterback in 11 years since Carson Palmer took the reins in five starts in 1998.
Matt Barkley, who played and started his first college football game in USC’s season opener against San Jose State, is the first true freshman to ever start in a USC season opener.
Barkely was 15-of-19 for 233 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions in the Trojan’s 56-3 victory over San Jose State.
“Most people were holding their breath when Barkley took the field against San Jose State, and after Barkley got over his first quarter jitters he really proved himself to the USC fans,” Manukyan said. “If he can maintain his solid first game performance and keep his veins icy I think he should do just fine.”
But, despite his confidence in the young quarterback, Manukyan said that most fans are expecting Carroll to play conservatively against Ohio State, with a lot of runs, screen plays and short passes.
“I don’t think Pete is going to let Barkley throw bombs downfield,” Manukyan said. “At least not early in the game.”
As for the young and inexperienced Trojan defense, Manukyan said that USC fans believe the core is much more solid than the nation is giving them credit for.
“USC has traditionally had problems with scrambling quarterbacks, and I think Jim is going to let Pryor be Pryor,” Manukyan said. “But, one thing that Jim is not going to do is let Pryor throw the ball anywhere within twenty feet of Taylor Mays.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that USC fans are confident in their team and coach. But with a freshman quarterback and a defense that is missing eight of last season’s starters, everything is up in the air heading into this weekend’s battle.
Luckily for the Buckeyes, the likes of Manukyan will be in the minority on Saturday as around 100,000 Buckeye fans will fill Ohio Stadium, ready to cheer their team to victory.