Thursday, November 29, 2007

USC – The Love is Back

We noted at the onset of the season of the curious magnitude of media love for all things Trojan.

To everyone’s shock, the sports media love-fest was derailed by the Stanford Cardinals at USC in early October. But alas, the tracks have been fixed, and the Pete Carroll adoration is back in full flower, as evidenced by what currently might be the most common refrain in the sports media– that USC is “playing the best football in the country right now”.

I don’t know what these “experts” are watching, but the evidence to support this claim simply doesn’t hold up.

Let’s take a look at that evidence –

Presumably the “experts” hyping the Trojans are talking about USC’s play since their loss at Oregon about 1 month ago. Since that time, USC has won the following three games –

Nov 3: Oregon State 24-3
Nov. 10: California 24-17
Nov. 22: Arizona State 44-24

In beating Oregon State, the Trojans gained only 287 yards at home (187 passing/100 rushing). There was no scoring by either team in the 2nd half.

In beating floundering Cal, USC was out gained by the Bears 399 yards to 368. A 4th quarter Trojan touchdown gave USC the win in a game Cal turned the ball over 3 times.

Yes, the win over Arizona State was pretty impressive. But does this single win over a relatively untested team (the Sun Devils have played the 50th ranked schedule in the nation – including USC) make USC “as hot as any team in the country”? (per Herbstreit)

Don’t we need a little more evidence than one good win?

Well for every other competitive team out there, not only is a good win in your most recent game not enough to get you the “hottest team in the country” moniker, several good wins isn’t enough. Consider Virginia Tech’s 4 wins since their last loss to BC, which occurred just 2 days before USC’s loss to Oregon –

Nov 1: At Georgia Tech 27-3
Nov. 10: FSU 40-21
Nov. 17: Miami 44-14
Nov. 24: at Virginia 33-21

I don’t hear any talk about the Hokies “playing the best football right now” even though they are higher ranked than USC.

Or, consider even Florida. Since losing to Georgia on October 27th, the exact same day USC last lost, the Gators have won the following 4 –

Nov. 3: Vanderbilt 49-22
Nov. 10: at South Carolina 51-31
Nov. 17: FAU 59-20
Nov. 24: FSU 45-12

Now I’m not suggesting Florida is “the hottest team in the country”, or that USC’s 3 opponents weren’t better than the Gator’s 4. But Florida has averaged 51 points a game over their last 4 contests, while USC hasn’t scored 51 points in a single game this year.

What I am suggesting is that USC is held to a different, easier standard than any other team out there. Looking at the evidence, the Trojans have but a single impressive win in their last 4 games, yet they are “hot, hot, HOT!”

The SMQ “suggests” the possibility for cynics (and I include myself in that category) that commentators like Herbstreit are hyping possible Rose Bowl teams like USC at the expense of the BCS title game. And why not, as his corporate masters are the broadcasters of that very same Rose Bowl.

If Missouri faces West Virginia in the BCS title game, look for the Rose Bowl to be promoted as an “AP national championship” game between USC and Ohio State. Further, with the AP having opted out of the BCS, look for an Ohio State win in that game to result in a “split” title, an unsatisfying end to a season of dissatisfaction.

Update: In the comments a Georgia fan chastises me for not pointing out the very meritable "hotness" of the Dawgs right now. The point of the post was not to identify the best team in the nation right now, but rather to show two other examples of teams that are arguably as "hot" as USC. In reality, I don't think either VT or UF is playing the best ball right now - I think Georgia is. Georgia's ommision wasn't meant as some slight to UGA - it wasn't really germane to the point. But since Georiga fans evidently harbor deep inferiority complexes after countless years of beatings and near misses, I will state it directly here - Georiga is the "hottest" team in the nation right now.


Anonymous said...

I see you left UGA out of the "Hottest Teams" discussion. After reeling off six wins against Vandy, UF, Troy, AU, KY, and GT I would think they would deserve a mention there.

Since I'm pretty sure you didn't forget them since they handed your precious Gators their collective asses in Jax this year, I can only assume "Sour Grapes"

That's OK. It's all Rosey (or perhaps Orangey, or maybe even a Bag of Chips) In the Bulldog Nation. Have fun at the credit card bowl and tell Zook "HI" for us!

Mergz said...

Nay Dawg, you missed the point. I included VT and UF as teams arguably as hot, if not hotter, than USC. I really don't think any of the 3 is the "hottest" team in the nation.

No, I think the Dawgs are the team playing the best football right now. It wasn't really germane to my point, but I guess I might have included it.

I apologize I didn't mention the Dawgs - seemed obvious to me. I guess your inferiority complex compelled you to point it out.

Anonymous said...

And I guess YOUR inferiority complex compelled you to amend your post just because some random Dawg fan off the 'net called you out on your "omission".

That's aight it's all good. I'm really looking forward to next year's game. Y'all no longer view UGA as a stepping stone and we no longer view y'all as invincible. It should be fun!

Anonymous said...

PS I hate the Gators but I like your blog. Keep up the good work!

Mergz said...

Why sonuvadawg, you wanna fight? Meet me at the McDonalds parking lot on the corner in 1 hour!

I mean, I don't mention the Dawgs and thats bad. I correct the post, still bad. Sigh.

PS. Thanks for the blog compliment.
PPS. Please don't embarrass the SEC in your tasty BCS Bowl game
PPPS. See you next year!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, giving up 49 points to Florida, 38 to Kentucky, and 13 to (turrible) Auburn - that's hot.