Tag Archives: USC Trojans

Cody Kessler remains the starter at USC

USC Trojans Tickets

USC TROJANS

After winning the quarterback battle in the lead up to the start of the season, Cody Kessler struggled at the beginning of the 2013-2014 Trojans campaign, under soon to be fired head coach Lane Kiffin. After Ed Orgeron took over and the Trojans made a strong second half run the culminated in a solid finish, Kessler finished strong and demonstrated the skills that made him a high recruited player. In the Trojans strong second half they won with solid defense, a good running attack and solid game management from Kessler. In the final six games of the regular season Kessler had 8 touchdown passes and one interception. The finished the season on a high note, throwing for 345 yards and four touchdowns in the Trojans impressive bowl victory over Fresno State. Kessler’s solid play coincided with USC’s best football of the season, a stretch where they won six of seven games. A loss to UCLA in the regular season finale was the only defeat the Trojans suffered after the month of October.

Cody Kessler

KESSLER

While Kessler was leading the Trojans to a comeback season the program was redshirting Max Browne, a highly recruited quarterback touted as USC’s quarterback of the future. Red-shirting Browne made sense, with many around the program speculating that the job would be Browne’s to lose as a true freshman. With former Trojans assistant Steve Sarkisian taking over the head coaching job, the two quarterbacks, along with Jalen Greene, went into spring practice competing for the starting job.

At the conclusion of spring practice Sarkisian indicated that Kessler was still tops on the depth chart following a solid performance. The new coach hedged his bets a bit, stating that Kessler’s starting status is contingent on continued improvement and a solid training camp. Browne is still considered the top contender for the job, with Sarkisian indicating that the redshirt freshman would have another opportunity to earn the starting position this summer.

Kessler is a good game manager but not the type of difference-making athlete at the quarterback position like USC’s Brett Hundley. After the Trojans solid finish last year they’ll enter the new season with big expectations in an increasingly difficult PAC 12 conference. The Southern Division of the PAC 12 is full of up and coming programs, including UCLA under Jim Mora and Arizona State and Arizona under Todd Graham and Rich Rodriquez. With Brett Hundley plying his trade across town, leading a UCLA team that many favor in the conference, is Cody Kessler the answer at quarterback?

USC Trojans QB

KESSLER

Whether he’s the answer or not will depend on how the Trojans replace Marqise Lee and whether or not they can continue the dominant running game they showed in the second half of last season. Lee, who left for the NFL, had an injury filled year in 2013, but when healthy was the type of player that opposing teams had to account for. His absence will put more pressure on key Kessler target Nelson Agholar, who had two touchdown catches in the Trojans bowl victory. Kessler will have the benefit of a full season with Buck Allen at running back. Allen, who battled injuries early in 2013 had a strong second half that coincided with the Trojans strong run of play. In the Trojans last six games Allen had four one-hundred yard rushing games and 12 touchdowns.

So what does the future hold for Max Browne? The highly recruited quarterback indicated he’s no transferring, but he’s looking at another season as a backup. If Kessler succeeds like he did at the end of last season he’ll have an additional year of eligibility remaining beyond next season. If the incumbent starter has a strong 2014 it’s hard to imagine him losing his job to Browne after next season. To add to Browne’s predicament is the presence of Ricky Town, who committed to the Trojans. Town is the top ranked quarterback in the class of 2014, highly touted like Browne.

2014 USC Trojans Tickets are available now for all games at the Coliseum. All USC Trojans Tickets come with our 100% guarantee to be authentic and delivered to you on time.

BY: Chris M.

Can Sarkisian Return The Trojans Back To Glory?

USC Trojans Football

USC Trojans

In a surprise move USC Athletic Director Pat Haden moved quickly and hired former USC assistant and current Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian to be the Trojans next head coach. The hiring neglected a drawn out national search and kept the decision within the USC family. Rumored candidates such as Jack Del Rio, James Franklin and interim Head Coach Ed Orgeron didn’t even interview for the position. Sources close to the program indicated that Haden offered to make Orgeron the assistant head coach and one of the college footballs highest paid college football assistants but Orgeron decided to resign to pursue other options.

The decision to hire Sarkisian was an interesting move due to the similar pedigree Sarkisian shared with fired Head Coach Lane Kiffin. In fact Kiffin and Sarkisian were so close during their time co-managing the offense under former Head Coach Pete Carroll that the duo was known as “Sarkiffian”. Like Kiffin, Sarkisian is an attempt to recapture the greatness the program enjoyed under Pete Carroll.

Perhaps the decision makes sense. Sarkisian has proven at Washington that he has the ability to turn around the program. The cupboard is also far from bare at USC as the Trojans proved in the run they made under Orgeron. Sarkisian is bringing in his defensive coordinator from Washington, Justin Wilcox, who brings a solid reputation for teaching defensive football. From all accounts Sarkisian is much more charismatic and press friendly than Kiffin and should charm rather than alienate the USC boosters. He’ll need to turn on the charm immediately and rebuild any potential relationships that the resignation of Orgeron created. Orgeron was a popular figure, especially among the players.

The issue with the decision for Haden is if it doesn’t work out. Choosing Sarkisian, like staying with Orgeron, is an easy decision to second guess. If the Trojans don’t have success under Sarkisian it’s Haden who will receive the bulk of the criticism. A bold move, such as hiring Jon Gruden or making a strong play for Chris Peterson may have insulated Haden a bit from the potential critics who will surely pop up if Sarkisian doesn’t enjoy instant success. The scene in Los Angeles is quite a bit different than when Kiffin took over. In Jim Mora Jr. the UCLA Bruins have a real program and are primed to become the football power in Los Angeles. The success of UCLA is more competition for the coveted Southern California recruits. The competition is even greater with the improvement of the Arizona State and Arizona programs. Both Arizona schools have hired head coaches with a national reputation that run exciting wide-open offenses. They are quickly becoming desirable destinations for many USC targets.

The Trojans have a potential superstar quarterback in Max Browne, who was able to complete his redshirt season with both Kiffin and Orgeron resisting the urge to pull his redshirt. The program has one more season before they have full available scholarships so it makes sense for Sarkisian to usher in the Max Browne era immediately, as early as spring practice. If Browne can bring some excitement into the program the Trojans can charge into 2015 with all of their NCAA sanctions lifted and a potential Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback.

Barry’s Ticket Service stocks USC Trojans Tickets for all home and away games. Follow us on G+ for Discount on Trojans Tickets, Contests, USC Ticket Giveaways and Special Promo Codes for USC Trojans Tickets. By:Chris Michaels

Does the USC vs Notre Dame Game Matter in 2013?

At one time the USC vs Notre Dame game was one of the biggest games of the year in college football. Unfortunately, in the past 20 years it has often been the case that only one of these two teams is at the top of their game when they clash during the regular season. There have not been many top 10 match ups in recent years. Even when the game is competitive one team usually comes in ranked significantly higher than the other. The same will happen in 2013. In fact, this game will likely get overshadowed by an ACC game. Who would have ever guessed the ACC would rule the primetime ratings of this week’s Saturday slate? Trust me when I tell you many more people are going to be interested in Clemson vs Florida State than USC vs Notre Dame.

USC and the Lane Kiffin Debacle

The Lane Kiffin era did not last very long at USC. After Pete Carroll abruptly left the program to head to the NFL the Trojans felt as if they could replace Carroll with one of his disciples and have the same success. They did not have a problem luring Lane Kiffin away from the University of Tennessee, but it did not work out as planned for either party. Lane Kiffin came in with huge expectations but one issue after another made it difficult for him to lead the Trojans back to national championship status. As soon as Kiffin arrived on campus USC was under investigation. After getting stripped scholarships most USC fans were willing to give Kiffin a few extra years to turn it around.

Whether or not he should have been given these extra few years is an argument for another time. What we know now is that Lane Kiffin was not the man for the job at USC. He was an amazing recruiter but he was not a great coach. I think I saw the writing on the wall very early when Kiffin would go for a two point conversation after about half of his team’s touchdowns. There is absolutely no reason to do this at a big time football program. This is the type of stuff small schools do just to try to get attention. Lane Kiffin was acting immature and that does not lead to success as a Division I college football coach.

USC decided to let Lane Kiffin go earlier this year and it should have happen. Some would argue that it should have happened sooner. Even though USC was hampered by scholarships being reduced they were never the team that lived up to their talent. Year in and year out the team was in the preseason top 25. By the time the season ended they were lucky to finish in the upper half of the Pac 12 conference. Two years ago the Trojans finished the season strong and they were preseason top five last year. That didn’t last long as Matt Barkley actually got worse during his senior season. This was all I needed to know to make my final decision about Lane Kiffin.

Is Notre Dame Back?

Last year many people thought Notre Dame might be back to their championship ways when they finished the season undefeated. So many people were excited about the BCS National Championship game against Alabama that it was one of the highest selling tickets in the history of the BCS. As we got closer to the national championship game more people began to recognize that Notre Dame did not match up well with the Alabama team that had won two of the last three national championship. Some experts were even predicting a blow out in the national championship game. When all was said and done it was exactly that. About 10 minutes into the game it was quite obvious that Alabama was in a class of its own. They were not going to be challenged by Notre Dame in any way.

Does this mean Notre Dame is not back? Well, maybe or maybe not. Brian Kelly has only been at Notre Dame a handful of years and he is still building the program. Seeing Notre Dame in the top 25 is nice as a college football historian. Unfortunately, Notre Dame fans are not happy with a team that is just in the top 25. They want their team competing for a national championship every year. I honestly don’t think that is going to be possible as the landscape of college football has changed drastically. It is no longer the case that high school football players only see games on NBC, ABC and CBS. In the past, this was the way Penn State, Notre Dame and USC recruited. They were the only teams that were on TV every single weekend. With ESPN and Fox Sports now airing games all day on Saturday high school football players can watch any team play from the comfort of their home.

Growing Up a Notre Dame Fan

I am in my early 30s and I grew up in a very small town. While we did get ESPN we did not get other sports channels. On a Saturday afternoon in the fall I had the option to watch NBC, which always had Notre Dame games. The local ABC and CBS stations had games in the ACC but ACC football has never been great. This meant that I watched Notre Dame week in and week out. I eventually became I diehard fan as I could name all the players on the team. Names like Kevin McDougal, Jerome Bettis and Lee Becton come to mind. With NBC paying millions for these broadcasts it stands to reason they would push the Fighting Irish as much as possible. During my younger years Notre Dame only won a single national championship and that was in 1989. After that they were in the top 10 every single year and challenged for a title.

The change happened when Lou Holtz decided to leave Notre Dame. The coach after Holtz was Bob Davie and it was a steady slide through the Davie years. NBC and Notre Dame still have a very strong relationship but there are so many options for college football fans. At the moment I can watch ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNews, Fox Sports, Fox Sports 1, the Pac 12 Network, the B1G Network and all the local affiliates. At 3:30 pm on a Saturday there are about seven or eight games that fans have the opportunity to watch. When I was growing up I had the opportunity to watch two or three and one was always Notre Dame.

It is also important to point out that regional games dominated in my younger years. If I wanted to watch Oregon or Texas A&M I was out of luck. We would have to order a special package and it was just too much for my parents to afford. Rather than getting upset about not seeing these teams play I simply let it go and knew nothing about them. I did not have the Internet at the time. The only way I could get score updates was to wait for Sportscenter at the end of the night. This was a time when there were not daily sports shows dedicated to the college football updates.

With so many options available it is obvious that high school football players and athletes do not have to watch only one team. There are dozens of games on every weekend and sports fans can use the Internet to get updates at any time during the day. Finding out insider information in the early to mid 1990s was nearly impossible. Unless you knew someone walking around the campus you had no idea what was going on behind closed doors. Now, every single program has a specific website dedicated to recruiting and analysis of the team.

Ratings for 2013 USC vs Notre Dame

The USC vs Notre Dame game will kick off at 7:30 pm on Saturday, October 19th. As mentioned previously, the Florida State vs Clemson game will likely be much more widely viewed. If all things work out the Clemson vs Florida State game will be a top 5 matchup while the Notre Dame vs USC matchup will feature a team that has recently fired their head coach and another team that is trying to find its identity as a program. I am a diehard college football fan and I love tradition. I would throughly enjoy watching this game if it actually mattered. Notre Dame will not be playing for a championship this year and USC will be playing for a mid level bowl. This makes the game unappealing to me as a fan.

I also have the opportunity to watch two of the best quarterbacks in college football in Tajh Boyd and Jameis Winston in the Clemson vs Florida State game. This is not a difficult decision at all. Also, the geographic differences in Notre Dame and USC make it unappealing. Neither is in the south and neither is in the hotbed of recruiting. These are just a few of the many reasons the TV ratings for the USC vs Notre Dame game will be subpar.

Who Will Win the 2012 Heisman Trophy?

Matt Barkley, the USC Trojans QB who decided not to enter the NFL draft and return for his senior season, will not win the Heisman Trophy this year, that much is sure. But, who will accept the Heisman bust this December?

Late in the season it appeared that Kansas State Wildcats do-everything QB Collin Klein might be the guy. However, an ugly 52-24 upset loss to Baylor on Nov. 17 leaves Klein’s possibility as a finalist looming. Mante Te’O, the Notre Dame LB, has had an amazing season (tied for the FBS lead in interceptions with seven) under a fair amount of duress. Te’O lost both his girlfriend and grandmother earlier in the season, not to mention the stress of having to face every opponent’s best shot week in and week out as the Irish finished the season unbeaten.

The front-runner, however, for college football’s top award is Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manzeil. The redshirt freshman has led the Aggies to a remarkable 10-2 record including an upset win over then top-ranked Alabama. Manziel, or “Johnny Football” as he has become known, is one of just a handful of quarterbacks who have thrown for over 3,000 yards and ran for over 1,000 in the same season. He leads the SEC in rushing with 1,181 yards and has run for 19 touchdowns.

When new head coach Kevin Sumlin took over, it appeared that the Aggies would be rebuilding while they entered the mighty SEC. After a season-opening loss to Florida, Texas A&M reeled off five straight wins and the legend of “Johnny Football” began to rise. If anyone needs validation that Manziel is deserving of the Heisman, watch the game film of the Aggies’ win over ‘Bama. Manziel was 24-of-31 passing for 253 yards, two touchdowns, and he did not throw an interception. He also rushed for 92 more yards against arguably the nation’s best defense.

Along with Klein, Te’O, and Manziel, the other finalists may be Oregon Ducks speedy RB Kenjon Barner who has rushed for 1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns, and USC wide receiver Marqise Lee, who has hauled in 112 receptions for 1,680 yards and 14 scores. This year’s winner will be announced on Saturday, December 8, live from the Best Buy Theater in Times Square.

Why Notre Dame Will Not Win the National Championship

Currently ranked third in the latest BCS poll with a record of 8-0, Notre Dame is on the verge of its first unbeaten season since 1988, when QB Tony Rice led the Irish to a national championship. Should Brian Kelly’s squad finish the season unbeaten at 12-0, the Irish will surely be in the BCS title discussion. Also in that discussion will be Kansas State, Oregon, and top-ranked Alabama.

Assuming that, like the Irish, the other three teams in the mix win out to finish the season, Notre Dame will be left wishing that it was 2014. That, of course, is when the new four-team playoff format will begin. Sure, Notre Dame’s schedule is probably good enough to warrant playing the title game, but of the next four opponents only USC has a winning record. Oregon will play three ranked opponents in their last four games and then likely another in the Pac-12 championship. Again assuming the Ducks win out, playing through that schedule will likely move Oregon Ducks ahead of ND in the BCS rankings.

Kansas State, currently ranked second, faces two ranked opponents, Oklahoma State and Texas, in its last four weeks, and also faces dangerous TCU (5-3). At the present, the Wildcats and the Irish are tied in the computer rankings with a composite percentage of .970. With KSU at 12-0 and facing a tougher schedule in the last four weeks, Notre Dame’s score will only decrease leaving the Irish with no chance of overtaking Kansas State.

Almost every likely championship scenario does not include the Irish. If Alabama and Kansas State win their remaining games, there’s no doubt they will play in the BCS title game. It is also likely that Alabama and Oregon could meet should both teams win out and KSU falter. Another scenario has a one-loss SEC team, possibly Georgia or LSU, in the title game as well.

For the Irish to be playing on Jan. 7th all of the cards will have to fall into place. And, yes, there are some key games remaining on the schedule, especially the big LSU-’Bama showdown, which will have a huge impact on the BCS championship. First, Notre Dame must win handily over the teams they should-Pitt, Boston College, and Wake Forest. Then, they will need to put up some serious numbers against USC in the LA Coliseum. A victory is great, but a little cushion on the final score wouldn’t hurt.

With the 12-0 record in the bag, the Irish will then have to hope the teams at the top stumble along the last four weeks. A one-loss Alabama may still make it to Jan. 7th, if that loss is to LSU and not in the SEC championship. A one-loss Oregon might still have a shot if its loss is to USC in the regular season and comes back and destroys its opponent in the Pac-12 title game. A Kansas State loss will likely take them out of the picture since there is no Big 12 title game to count on for redemption. Plus, the Wildcats face Texas and Oklahoma State, each ranked in the lower end of the Top 25. Losing to either won’t be the same as losing to say, a No. 5 LSU. Regardless, Notre Dame’s path the BCS glory is murky at best.

College Football Midseason Report

Halfway into the 2012 college football season, let’s take a look at some of the big surprises, some not-so-surprises, and biggest flops yet so far. After winning a national title and losing four players to the first round of the NFL Draft, Alabama was thought by many to have lost just a little too much to continue their dominance. At the midpoint of the season, the Tide is clearly the best team in the country with a bruising running game, solid QB play from A.J. McCarron, and the nation’s best defense.

Surprisingly, the Florida Gators are not far behind and are looking to make a run through the SEC East in order to take the Tide for the SEC title come December. Coach Will Muschamp, in just his second year, has brought the Gators back into the national title picture with a strong dose of RB Mike Gillislee and what may be the nation’s second-best defense. In a 44-11 blowout win over then No. 7-ranked South Carolina, it was the Florida defense and special teams that forced four turnovers. The Gators are already 5-0 in SEC play, with three of those wins coming on the road against ranked opponents.

Notre Dame (6-0) surely has surprised many sweeping Big Ten rivals Michigan, Michigan State, and Purdue, then destroying Miami and beating a very good Stanford team in overtime. And the Irish did all of this with some pretty shaky quarterback play. The Irish still have two big tests remaining on their schedule (Oklahoma, USC), but could find themselves in the thick of the BCS championship picture at season’s end.

Maybe the two biggest surprises are Oregon State and Kansas State. Both are unbeaten, but the Beavers are coming off a disastrous 3-0 campaign a year ago. So far, they have beaten Wisconsin, hammered BYU and have destroyed three Pac-12 opponents. Kansas State, which has always been good under Bill Snyder, has just been phenomenal. Quarterback Collin Klein may be the nation’s best player and the Wildcats play great defense and just don’t make many mistakes. KSU still has some big games remaining, but they are another team that could find themselves in that BCS title picture should they win out.

On the other end of the college football stratosphere is Auburn. Just two years removed from a national championship, head coach Gene Chizik finds his Tigers sitting at 1-5 with one of the country’s worst offenses. Their QB play has been horrendous and the Tigers may have trouble winning another game this season.

Right beside Chizik is John L. Smith at Arkansas. The Hogs were ranked in the preseason Top Ten and after former coach Bobby Petrino’s bout with motorcycle mayhem cost him his job, Smith walked in ready to ride Petrino’s wave to an SEC title. Five weeks into the season, Arkansas stood at 1-4 losing to mid-major Louisiana-Monroe, then getting trounced at home by Alabama the following week. The Hogs are now 3-4 with consecutive wins over Auburn and Kentucky, neither of which is very good.
With the recent success of school’s like Michigan State and Wisconsin, and even Michigan’s 11-2 season a year ago, one would have thought that the Big Ten might rival the SEC for college football dominance. Not so. Michigan and Wisconsin each have two losses thus far and Michigan State sits at 4-4 going into the ninth week of the season. Northwestern has been a surprise, rattling off six straight wins to start the season, but from top to bottom, the conference is nowhere near the SEC or even the Big 12.

With another eight weeks to go, there is still plenty of football left. What remains to be seen is how the BCS title picture plays out and, who will move to the forefront in the race for the Heisman Trophy.

How the BCS Top Ten Fared Last Weekend

NCAA College Football Showdown Saturday did not disappoint as the weekend was full of quality match-ups, including a Top Ten battle in Gainesville. The No. 2-ranked Florida Gators proved they are worthy of their lofty BCS ranking clearly outplaying No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks in a 44-11 victory. The Florida defense and special teams forced four Gamecock turnovers, three of which Gator QB Jeff Driskell turned into touchdown passes. Driskell, who continues to improve, threw for four touchdowns. Both Florida and SC played outstanding defense. The Gators managed just 183 total yards, becoming the first FBS team in history to score over 40 points without gaining 200 yards of total offense.

Alabama Crimsontide, ranked No. 1 in the BCS, had little trouble with Tennessee in a 44-13 win. Tide QB A.J. McCarron threw for a career-high 306 yards and four touchdowns. The vaunted ‘Bama defense gave up just 79 yards rushing to the Vols and held Tyler Bray, the highly touted Vols’ QB, to 184 yards on 13-of-27 passing and no touchdowns.

Prior to Saturday’s lineup feast, the No. 2 Oregon Ducks traveled to Arizona State and dismantled any hopes of an upset in the first 15 minutes of play en route to a 43-21 win over the Sun Devils. ASU scored on its first play, a 28-yard pass from Taylor Kelly to Kevin Ozier, to jump out to a 7-0 lead just 49 seconds into the game. The Ducks countered with a Kenjon Barner 71-yard run and two Marcus Mariota touchdown passes to take a 22-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. Barner would run for two more scores and Mariota, an 86-yard run, as the Ducks built a 43-7 halftime lead.

In somewhat of a surprise, head coach Bill Snyder’s No.4 Kansas State Wildcats went to Morgantown and made it look easy against Geno Smith and West Virginia as Wildcat QB Collin Klein accounted for seven touchdowns in a 55-14 thrashing of the No. 13 Mountaineers. Klein established himself as a legitimate Heisman favorite with a career-high 323 passing yards, completing 19-of-21 passes, three touchdowns, and added 41 yards on the ground and four scores.

No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish remained unbeaten fighting off a 14-7 halftime deficit to defeat Brigham Young, 17-14. The Irish rolled up 270 yards on the ground and George Atkinson III scored on a two-yard run early in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Running backs Theo Riddick (15 carries, 143 yards) and Cierre Wood (18-114) led the way for ND. Irish QB Tommy Rees, playing in place of the injured Everett Golson, completed six of his first seven passes, then only attempted three in the entire second half. Notre Dame’s defense limited BYU to just 66 yards on the ground.

After falling behind 12-0, No. 6 LSU scored 24 unanswered points and downed No. 18 Texas A&M, 24-19, in College Station. The Tigers started ugly but were able to gain some momentum going into the halftime break when Zach Mettenberger hit Kadron Boone with a 29-yard TD pass with 11 seconds to go to give LSU the lead for good at 14-12. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M’s dynamic freshman QB, was held to just 27 yards rushing on 17 carries and was intercepted three times. LSU RB Jeremy Hill ran for a career-high 127 yards on 18 carries and scored once.

The surprising Oregon State Beavers, ranked No. 8 in last week’s BCS poll, took care of Pac-12 opponent, Utah, 21-7. OSU forced four Utah turnovers and Beavers’ RB Storm Woods rushed for three touchdowns. Oregon State is 6-0 and off to the school’s best start in 105 years after being picked to finish last in the Pac-12 North this preseason.

Oklahoma got ready for its showdown next weekend with Notre Dame by handing Kansas a 52-7 setback. The No. 9 Sooners were hardly challenged by coach Charlie Weis’ Jayhawks. Sooner QB Landry Jones threw for three touchdowns and Penn State transfer Justin Brown returned a punt 90 yards for a TD. OU has now won three consecutive games by at least three touchdowns.

It was a record-breaking day at USC Trojans as QB Matt Barkley threw three touchdown passes in the game’s first six minutes as the Trojans, BCS No. 10, beat Colorado, 50-6. Barkley’s second TD pass, a 39-yarder to Robert Woods, broke former Trojan QB Matt Leinart’s Pac-12 career touchdown passing mark. Barkley finished the day 19-of-20 for 298 yards and six touchdowns, giving him 102 TD passes for his career.

Never Too Early To Talk About The Granddaddy Of Them

Seven weeks into the 2012 college football season, we finally have our first BCS rankings and, with that, it’s time to project the biggest bowl of them all…The Rose Bowl. This year’s Rose Bowl, to be played on January 1st as usual, will feature the traditional Big Ten/Pac-12 matchup. But, who will represent each conference? Sure, it may be too early to tell, but let’s take a look at the possibilities.

Big Ten
With Ohio State and Penn State out of the Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl pictures this year due to NCAA penalties, the Leaders Division is all Wisconsin’s. Surprisingly, both the Buckeyes and the Nittany Lions are unbeaten in league play so far. Take away a poor half and a kicking debacle in week two and PSU might be unbeaten on the season as are the Buckeyes.

The Wisconson Badgers have five league games remaining, the toughest of which may very well be against Ohio State and Penn State. Regardless, the bottom three in the Leaders Division will most likely have at least three losses. Even if Wisconsin ends up with three league losses, they will hold the edge on Purdue and Illinois, and should beat Indiana in week 10.

Play in the Legends Division is much tougher with the Michigan Wolverines and Nebraska Cornhuskers the favorites, although Iowa is currently 2-0 in league play. Don’t forget Northwestern, which ripped off six straight wins to start the season and Michigan State, last year’s Big Ten champ. The way it pans out in the Legends Division, though, is up to the Wolverines and the Cornhuskers. Iowa must play both and also must face Penn State and Northwestern. That doesn’t make it easy for the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Michigan and Nebraska play each other in two weeks, but the ‘Huskers have Northwestern, a team they lost to last year, Michigan State, Penn State, and Iowa. Michigan will face pretty much the same road to a division title and cap off the season with the year-end rivalry game at Ohio State.

Look for superior defense and the play of Denard Robinson to propel the Wolverines to the Legends Division championship and look for them to face Wisconsin for the Big Ten title.

Pac-12
The interesting thing with the Pac-12 is the Oregon Ducks. Currently the BCS No. 3 team, Coach Chip Kelly’s squad is projected to be playing in the national championship game and if current No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Florida win out, they will play each other in the SEC championship game. The loser is likely out of the BCS title game which would pave the way for…the Oregon Ducks, should they too win out.

Oregon still has USC and Stanford remaining on the schedule along with a Thursday night trip to Tempe, AZ, to take on a rejuvenated Arizona State team that is currently 5-1. And don’t forget the Civil War. Oregon must play in-state rival Oregon State, ranked eighth in the BCS, in Corvallis on Thanksgiving weekend.

Should Oregon head to the BCS title game, that leaves USC Trojans, Stanford Cardinals, and Oregon State. Todd Graham’s Sun Devils just won’t cut it this year as they head down the stretch. Of the three remaining teams, the Trojans will have the easiest road as their test will come Nov. 3rd when they face the Ducks. Even if USC loses to Oregon, which will be looking for payback for last year’s 38-35 loss, a two-loss Trojan team wins the South Division and the right to play in the Pac-12 championship. With Oregon winning the North, it’s either the Ducks going to the BCS title game or to the Rose Bowl. If Oregon plays for all the marbles, then USC steps in and represents the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl.

Rose Bowl Projection

Look for the teams with the easiest routes to get to Pasadena and for the Ducks to be playing for a national title… Wisconsin vs. USC

The Ten Worst NCAA College Football Teams in the Nation

With the upcoming release of the season’s first BCS standings, there will be talk of Alabama and what other SEC teams will be in the top ten. There will be talk of the improvement of the Pac-12 and the woes of the Big Ten. But what about the bottom feeders? What about the teams at the other end of the spectrum? Here’s a look at the ten worst college football teams in the country.

10. Colorado State (1-5)
After a season-opening win over in-state rival Colorado, the Colorado State Rams have dropped five straight, including a 22-7 loss to last year’s FCS champ, North Dakota State. CSU is horrible on defense giving up 30 points per game and maybe even worse on offense where they rank 117th in scoring, just 16 points per game. The running game is one of the three worst in the nation (96 yards a game) and the team’s leading rusher, Chris Nwoke, has just 162 yards.

9. Colorado (1-5)
Football in the state of Colorado is simply not good. Head coach Jon Embree is on his last legs for sure. After the aforementioned loss to rival Colorado State to start the year, the Colorado Buffaloes proceeded to lose to FCS Sacramento State, 30-28. A second-half rally provided the team’s only victory, a dramatic 35-34 win over Washington State, but this team is on the brink of disaster. Teams that give up 41 points a game rarely win and Colorado still must play the USC Trojans, Oregon Ducks, and Stanford Cardinals, all ranked teams.

8. Kansas (1-4)
If Dorothy clicked her heels, she would awake to find the latest in futility from the Kansas football program. New head coach Charlie Weis was supposed to at least revive a sluggish offense. The Kansas Jayhawks are 111th in scoring offense putting up just 20 points a game. KU’s only win came at the hands of FCS South Dakota State in the season opener. Granted the Jayhawks have lost to two ranked teams, TCU and Kansas State, but the schedule doesn’t get any easier. Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia remain.

7. Akron (1-5)
Welcome back to college football, Terry Bowden. Surely, he never thought it would be this bad. The lone win was a 66-6 pounding of FCS Morgan State. The Akron Zips are already 0-2 in the MAC and the league schedule doesn’t get much easier. Akron faces Ohio and Northern Illinois, who appeared in last year’s league championship game, and then must take on a newly rejuvenated Kent State and Toledo, both of whom are currently unbeaten in league play. Akron is eighth in the nation in passing offense, but average just 123 yards a game on the ground.

6. Florida International (1-5)
A year ago, the Panthers played in their second consecutive bowl game. Head coach Mario Cristobal had this program headed in the right direction. But FIU has had serious trouble stopping anyone, giving up 38 points a game, and it’s hard to win games when you give up 38. The Panthers’ lone victory was a 41-38 overtime win over Akron. The fewest points allowed by FIU…28 in a 28-21 loss to a ranked Louisville squad.

5. Auburn (1-4)
What a difference a stud QB and a couple years make. The 2010 national champions are now one of the worst football teams in America. No more Gus Malzahn and high-octane offense. The Auburn Tigers are now an anemic, pro-style offense that puts up a whopping 15 points a game. They rank near the bottom in every major offensive statistical category. And, they play in the SEC. There are some bright spots, though. The Tigers still have New Mexico State (stay tuned) and Alabama A&M remaining on the schedule.

4. New Mexico State (1-5)
Hard to believe that an early November date with Auburn might be a battle between the Aggies and the Tigers. New Mexico State, a program with a history of losing records, has lost five straight since an opening-weekend win over Sacramento State. The Aggies can’t run the ball (86 yards a game) and can’t stop anybody (33 points a game), a bad combination when trying to win football games.

3. Eastern Michigan (0-5)
A year ago Ron English’s Eagles were looking to get into a bowl game with six wins. This year, the wins are hard to find and EMU will be lucky if it gets any. The Eagles can’t run (103rd in rush offense), can’t throw (118th in pass offense), can’t score (119th in scoring offense), and find it difficult to stop anyone from scoring (110th in scoring defense, 37 points per game). It’s a recipe for disaster as the Eagles still have to play three of the MAC’s best—Toledo, Ohio, and Northern Illinois.

2. Southern Mississippi (0-5)
After coach Larry Fedora’s exit last year after a 12-win, Conference USA championship season, Southern Miss was thought to be in good hands with Ellis Johnson. Five games into the 2012 season and the Eagles have yet to get a win. They have played some good football teams—Nebraska, Louisville, Boise State—but gone is the high-powered offense of a year ago. Southern Miss averages just 16 points a game and the passing game, a strength last year, is one of the worst in the nation averaging just 135 yards a game.

1. Tulane (0-5) & UMass (0-6)
It’s dual futility at the top. In its first year as an FBS program, Charley Molnar’s UMass team just doesn’t have it figured out yet. The Minutemen have had a hard time putting the ball into the end zone. UMass is 121st in the nation in scoring offense averaging just 13.8 points per game. The only thing worse than the UMass offense? Tulane’s. The Green Wave are dead last, 124th out of 124 FBS programs, in scoring. Tulane has only been shut out once, but has averaged just nine points per game. And defensively, both teams yield over 40 points per game. Tulane now has 15 straight losses. UMass is headed in that direction.

USC Trojans, Still A National Contender?

USC Trojans

USC Trojans

To remain in the national title hunt, the University of Southern California football squad cannot afford another slip up.

Yet to exhibit the greatness predicted by college football experts before the season, inconsistency plagued the Trojans through the first five games. USC rolled over Hawaii and California, struggled mightily at various points against Syracuse and Utah, and lost to Stanford. The Orange, Utes, and Cardinal all lack the raw talent of USC, but they managed to keep each contest unexpectedly close.

Possibly the only unit outperforming expectations, USC’s defensive line exhibited dominance over the first several games. Junior defensive end Morgan Breslin ranks among the top players nationally in sacks (5.5) and tackles for loss (10.5) on a defense that yields fewer than three yards per carry. As the Trojans trudge through the high-scoring PAC 12 Conference, its opposition will likely try to beat them by way of air.
Cornerback has been a major point of concern for coach Lane Kiffin. The starters struggled so much the first few weeks, speculation surfaced that Kiffin might consider shifting wide receiver Marqise Lee to the position. Though he recently denied the possibility of moving Lee over to defense, safety Josh Shaw practiced at corner this week, confirming the staff’s lack of confidence in the secondary.

But it does appear the Trojans are trending upward in recent weeks.

In a 27-9 victory over in-state foe Cal on Sep. 22, USC was able to sack Bears’ quarterback Zach Maynard seven times. And for the first time since 2008, two running backs surpassed the 100-yard mark for the Trojans—Silas Redd racked up 158, while Curtis McNeal totaled 115.

Against Utah last week, USC dug itself out of an early hole to earn a valuable conference road win. QB Matt Barkley posted perhaps his best game of the season, completing 23 of 30 passes and three touchdowns. Equally impressive, the receiving corps displayed deep threat potential all game long as the Trojans prevailed, 38-28.

As USC plows deeper into the season, the schedule doesn’t get any easier.

With a trip to Seattle to play Washington on the horizon, as well as #2 Oregon Ducks and #7 Notre Dame coming to town in November, the Trojans have plenty of boulders in their path. Also laying in the weeds is crosstown rival UCLA, a squad foaming at the mouth to avenge last year’s 50-0 embarrassment. With one loss, a national title game appearance doesn’t appear as likely as it did prior to the season, but if the Trojans do find themselves in Miami they will most certainly have earned it.