USC Trojans Head East To Tackle Syracuse Orange
By: Willie Bee
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Life atop the two polls lasted all of one week for the Southern Cal Trojans who began the 2012 campaign as the No. 1 team in the country. It wasn't a case of a USC loss that dropped Lane Kiffin's team to second in both the AP and coaches polls; indeed, the Trojans posted a rather easy 49-10 victory over Hawaii last week, the final a little short of the 44-point spread their backers were laying at the closing bell.
Instead, it was Alabama's resounding 41-14 over preseason No. 8 Michigan that served to leapfrog the Crimson Tide from second to first in the rankings. As it is, sitting No. 2 is perfectly fine with Kiffin and his crew who know 'Bama has a tough SEC slate ahead.
Southern Cal also has some tough games on its schedule, one coming up at Stanford in just a week. But before the Trojans can worry about the Cardinal, they have the Syracuse Orange on their minds this Saturday afternoon clear across the Lower 48 in New Jersey.
The Pac-12/Big East clash will take place at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford with ABC's cameras on hand for the kickoff a little past 3:30 p.m. (ET), and following the network's coverage of the Penn State-Virginia matchup. A glance at the college football betting card shows the Trojans big favorites once again, this time carrying a 26-point burden against the Orange. Saturday's scoreboard hurdle is 59, up a point since the initial release.
Southern Cal and Syracuse are meeting for the fourth time, and the second collision in Jersey though the previous meeting here was played in old Giants Stadium back in 1990. The Trojans have won all three of the prior matchups, including last year out in LA where Matt Barkley tossed five TDs in a 38-17 triumph as 17-point favorites.
Barkley, among the leading candidates for this year's Heisman Trophy, was at the helm of all six first-half scoring drives by the Trojans in last week's rout. The senior QB ended his day 23-for-38 in the passing column for 372 yards and four TDs. One of the 6-point strikes went to Marqise Lee who reeled in 10 passes for 197 yards, adding a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Trojans, also second in the latest Don Best Linemakers Poll, had just one turnover while the defense forced four in helping to build a 35-zip halftime advantage.
Syracuse also enjoyed a big day offensively with QB Ryan Nassib breaking school records during his 44-for-65, 470-yard and four touchdown performance. All four of those TDs came in the second half to help rally the Orange from a 35-13 third-quarter deficit.
Unfortunately, Nassib's effort wasn't enough in the 42-41 home loss to the Northwestern Wildcats who were 2-point underdogs. Three turnovers and a couple of bonehead late penalties, along with the overall porous defense, eventually proved to be the Orange's Waterloo.
Syracuse has several health issues on the offensive side of the ball, including a pair of tight ends and a couple of wide receivers. One of the tight ends, David Stevens, remains a game-time decision for head coach Doug Marrone and his staff. True freshman Ron Thompson will miss the game with a lower body injury. Wideout Adrian Flemming (ankle) will miss his second game while Alec Lemon (lower body) remains questionable.
The Trojans have two injuries of note for this game, one on each side of the ball. Linebacker Lamar Dawson is questionable with a calf injury after missing last week's win over Hawaii. Backup tailback DJ Morgan is out the next several weeks after some minor knee surgery. Morgan had seven carries for 25 yards in the opener.
As mentioned, the Trojans will be at Stanford next week for both teams' conference opener. The Orange return home to host Stony Brook in a glorified scrimmage.