Still, I also can’t help but feel like something is missing this week. Maybe it’s the feeling that Ohio State won’t be bringing its best without a fully healthy Beanie Wells (above). Maybe it’s the Buckeyes’ lackluster win over Ohio last Saturday, and their slide in the rankings to No. 5. Maybe it’s the 10-point spread that tells us the magically accurate experts in Vegas feel the same way.
The thought crosses my mind that perhaps this isn’t the supreme challenge we all thought it would be … and that scares me. USC can’t afford to think Ohio State isn’t anything but “the” Ohio State.
Then again, what the hell do I know? According to Paul Peszko of the Bleacher Report, any hint of complacency among the Trojan Family was erased when Slick Rick and Trader Chow out-coached Rocky Top's Phil Fulmer – I know, that’s not saying much – in Pasadena last Saturday night. Here’s Peszko’s take:
Last week, Ohio State lost any psychological advantage they could possibly muster when UCLA came back in the second half to knock off Tennessee in OT, 27-24.Hmmm. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I think Peszko is on to something. As I watched Slick Rick’s “relentless optimism” – a.k.a., the classless behavior that will no doubt lead to his third set of violations sometime during this, his third head coaching job – I began to feel the proper hate that fuels the motivation it will take to beat the Buckeyes.
Even though USC was named No. 1 in both polls, they were no longer the media darlings of L.A. football. All week long, it has been a continuous procession of UCLA Bruins before the media.
The usual hype over USC’s 52-7 pasting of Virginia and the rise to No. 1 has been eclipsed by the media’s fascination with a team given up for dead pulling off the upset of Week One. …
For the Trojans, the game with Ohio State is not a springboard to a National Championship. It is not even to maintain their ranking at the top of the polls. It is not to show that the Pac-10 is better than the Big Ten. It is not even to prove that Trojans are better than Ohio State.
For the Trojans, the game with Ohio State is much, much bigger than all that. This game is for one thing and one thing only: to take back the City of Angels.
If allowing ucla and its Slick Rick to get under our skin a little bit gives us an edge this Saturday, that’s fine with me. I’m in.