Tuesday, December 12, 2006

USC Football: Four Chances to Win

I’ve never been a drug addict (thank goodness), so I don’t really know what it’s like to go through serious withdrawals. Actually, I did take myself off caffeine a while ago. That experience included a few weeks of dull pain in my head, which I suppose is somewhat similar to true college football fans watching meaningless basketball games while waiting for the “bowl season” to start.

Luckily, ESPN.com understands withdrawals. To give us college gridiron junkies a fix, ESPN’s “experts” put together the All-Time Greatest College Football Playoff, a chance for us to vote for the “greatest team ever” in a 32-team bracket format. Here’s the hype:
How would John McKay’s 1972 USC Trojans fare against Herschel Walker’s 1980 Georgia Bulldogs? What about the national champion Texas Longhorns of 2005 against the 2000 Oklahoma Sooners? Which team would win head-to-head?
This is cool, but the really great news for USC Football fans is that we have four chances to win: USC teams from 1932, ’62, ’72, and ’04 made the “tournament.” Oklahoma has the most with five. As for USC’s rivals, ND has three, and alas, ugla has none.

Anyway, let’s spread the word throughout the Trojan Family and get the vote out. Apparently, we can only vote once per computer or IP address, so don’t bother to vote repeatedly, but do cast votes from every computer to which you have (presumably legal) access … seriously. The first-round winners will be announced tomorrow night, so let’s get cracking!

Certainly, I’ll vote for all four of our teams as long as they survive, but the favorite is clearly USC’s 1972 Trojans. Four years ago, ESPN’s Page 2 ranked the ‘72 team as the second best college football team of all-time, just behind Nebraska’s 1971 Cornhuskers. Said the “world wide leader”:
USC, coached by John McKay, finished the season 12-0 after blowing out Ohio State 42-17 in the Rose Bowl. In the process, the Trojans became the first team to be named No. 1 on every ballot of both the coaches and media polls. Keith Jackson, who's forgotten more about college football than we'll ever know, said the '72 Trojans were the best ever. He might be right, but we're giving Nebraska just a slight edge.
Of course, this was written before USC's "Leave No Doubt Tour" of 2004, but we know Keith Jackson is right! Not only were the ’72 Trojans the unanimous No. 1 in both polls, but USC’s strength of schedule and the dominance it displayed in plowing through its opponents was astounding, if not unprecedented.

The ‘72 Trojans beat their 12 opponents by an average of almost 28 points per game. Their schedule included six ranked teams -- No. 4 Nebraska, No. 15 Stanford, No. 18 Washington, No. 14 UCLA, No. 10 Notre Dame, and No. 3 Ohio State -- which USC beat by an average of 20.2 points per game. And, as ESPN pointed out, the ’72 Trojans capped the season with a 25-point victory over the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl.

In terms of pure talent, ’72 USC also had five first-team All-Americans: linebacker Richard Wood, fullback Sam "Bam" Cunningham, offensive tackle Pete Adams, defensive tackle John Grant, and consensus pick at tight end Charlie Young. In addition, 10 seniors were taken in the 1973 NFL draft, including three first-round selections: Young, Cunningham, and Adams.

But that’s just the seniors. The ’72 underclassmen included future All-American (not to mention NFL Hall-of-Famer) Lynn Swann, who was a junior that year, as well two standout sophomores: USC legend and “Irish” killer Anthony Davis and Wood, the Trojans’ first three-time, first-team All-American.

No doubt about it. Keith Jackson knows what he’s talking about. Then again, there's 2004 ...

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