Over on Heismanpundit you can read a sobering post about how the Trojan offense is currently on pace to destroy just about every offensive record in the college record book. If you weren't already nervous about the thought of Matt Leinart facing our defense, this will cure you. The historical achievements within the Trojan crosshairs are quite impressive.
One thing that I did find interesting about this Southern Cal team is not how, but when they scored their points. Here's the breakdown by quarter:
It's interesting that the Trojans scored so many points in the 4th quarter, given that by then they usually had their heel on the other team's windpipe. Is Pete Carroll trying to inflate his team's offensive output in hopes of removing the Norm Chow asterisk? Or is it just that the Trojan 3rd and 4th teams are still better than their out-manned opponents? It's debatable (and maybe a combination of both.)
As for the chances of breaking all of the offensive records, we'd like to think no. Not so much because of Notre Dame, but due to the fact that to date Southern Cal has played 5 games against teams that are a combined 12-13. The rest of the way out, the Trojans face opponents that are currently 23-11. That's not to say that Southern Cal won't be a big favorite to go undefeated the rest of the way, but it's definitely a backloaded schedule and the opposition is going to get quite a bit tougher, so the offensive fireworks might be a bit more muted in the second half.
Finally, here are some other categories where the Trojans are rated highly.
To say that Southern Cal is going to be the more talented team going into Saturday's matchup isn't a slap at the current Irish team, as much as it is an objective look at the two rosters. The Trojans have built upon their on-field success with some rather impressive recruiting hauls. Meanwhile, Irish fans have noted that recruiting faltered during the final two years of the Willingham era.
We wanted to find a way to compare the skill/talent levels of the two programs a la a pre-fight weigh-in, but it's not easy to find a metric that's thorough enough to be fair. So, we caved, and we'll use two different benchmarks, both from Phil Steele: the player's High School Recruiting Rank (HSR) and his 2005 Pre-Season Rank (PSR).
For the high school rankings, Steele doesn't actually do any evaluation himself, but rather takes all the major recruiting services (Parade Magazine, SuperPrep, Tom Lemming, G&W Recruiting Advisor, Prepstar, Max Emfinger, Rivals100) and averages together their results. For the pre-season rankings, Steele does do his own, so keep in mind the numbers only reflect one source (A source that wasn't very high on the Irish chances to get much above .500 this season).
A few quick notes before we get to the numbers. We couldn't find a HSR for Frostee Rucker, who was a low to mid-level recruit who attended Colorado State before transferring to Southern Cal. Even though his likely ranking would have pulled down the Southern Cal average, we decided to leave it out and only average the other 21 Trojan positions. For the junior college transfers (Latui, Ware) we counted their JUCO ranking rather than high school one, which again gives a bit of a boost to the Trojan rankings. Finally, if a player was not ranked (NR) in Phil Steele's 2005 pre-season position rankings, we gave that player the next highest ranking. For example, David Kirkman wasn't listed as a Top 25 fullback, so we gave him a ranking of 26. Both Southern Cal and ND had 6 players not ranked in the pre-season position preview.
|Position ||Southern Cal ||HSR ||PSR ||Notre Dame ||HSR||PSR |
|QB||M. Leinart ||9 ||1||B. Quinn ||12||21 |
|RB||R. Bush ||5 ||2 ||D. Walker ||13||27 |
|FB||D. Kirkman ||82 ||NR (26) ||R. Powers-Neal ||36||4 |
|WR||S. Smith ||3 ||9 ||M. Stovall ||4||10 |
|WR||D. Jarrett ||4 ||27 ||J. Samardzija ||22||NR(67) |
|TE||D. Byrd ||3 ||8 ||A. Fasano ||8||11 |
|LT||S. Baker ||15 ||21 ||R. Harris ||18||20 |
|LG ||T. Latui ||4(JC) ||22 ||D. Santucci ||14||NR(61) |
|C ||R. Kalil ||34 ||21 ||J. Sullivan ||3||9 |
|RG ||F. Matua ||12 ||13 ||D. Stevenson ||19||40 |
|RT ||W. Justice ||3 ||14 ||M. LeVoir ||4||24 |
|DE ||F. Rucker ||NA ||20 ||C. Frome ||23 ||NR(61) |
|DT ||L. Ramsey ||122 ||NR(66) ||D. Landri ||5 ||49 |
|DT ||S. Ellis ||8 ||NR(66) ||T. Laws ||13 ||61 |
|DE ||L. Jackson ||6 ||16 ||V. Abiamiri ||1 ||15 |
|WLB||K. Rivers ||2 ||31 ||B. Hoyte ||29 ||44 |
|MLB ||O. Lua ||66 ||49 ||C. Mays ||22 ||25 |
|SLB ||T. Williams ||8 ||NR(77) ||M. Crum ||80 ||NR(77) |
|CB ||J. Wyatt ||25 ||NR(67) ||M. Richardson ||128 ||NR(67) |
|SS ||D. Bing ||4 ||1 ||T. Zbikowski ||9 ||15 |
|FS ||S. Ware ||1 (JC)||6 ||C. Nduwke ||32 ||NR(43) |
|CB ||J. Walker ||77 ||NR(67) ||A. Wooden ||8 ||58 |
|AVERAGE || 23.5 || 28.6 ||AVERAGE ||21.6 || 36.7 |
What to take from this chart? Well, for starters, it appears that despite the presence of high school superstars like Bush, Justice, Rivers and Bing, Notre Dame has its share of highly recruited players as well. In the 2005 PSR, again Notre Dame is closer than I would have guessed.
Granted the saying "lies, damned lies, and statistics" comes to mind when reading something like this, and we didn't take a look at the entire depth chart. But I also think it's a decent response to the claims that talent-wise, Southern Cal is in the stratosphere, and ND is in the mud. It's much closer than that.
(Here's a post off of ndnation by Nedhead checking out how Southern Cal's oppponents did in their other games this season.)
A look at the schedule of USC's opponents. Note that there aren't many good defensive performances - ASU's defense against an LSU offense and Northwestern's offense, and Oregon's defense against ASU stand out, but that's about it. Almost everyone has put up points, although not as many as USC has. USC's offense is excellent, but we've been watching them for the past few years go up against Pac 10 defenses.
L 14-42 at MSU
W 24-0 at Idaho
L 41-44 vs. Boise St.
L 14-46 at LA Tech
W 49-17 vs. MO St.
L 24-28 at Vandy
L 13-24 at Bama
W 44-15 vs. LA-Monroe
W 38-24 at Houston
W 47-14 vs. Montana
W 37-34 vs. Fresno
W 44-20 at Stanford
W 31-17 at ASU
Arizona St, 38-28
W 63-16 vs. Temple
L 31-35 vs. LSU
W 52-21 vs. Northwestern
W 42-24 at Oregon St.
L 17-31 vs. Oregon
L 24-27 at Utah
W 31-12 vs. Northern AZ
L 24-31 vs. Purdure
L 0-28 at Cal
The Line. Proceed with caution.