Posted on September 13, 2017, by Travis Pulver
If you listen to the USC Trojans, they are undefeated (4-0) when they play the Texas Longhorns. Crazy, right? Did they somehow forget how they lost that epic game about a decade ago? You know the one—the 2006 Rose Bowl that featured two ‘sure-fire’ NFL caliber quarterbacks in Vince Young and Matt Leinart.
Neither ever ended up amounting to much in the NFL, but they did give fans one of the best college football games ever played. But thanks to Reggie Bush being a naughty boy during college, the entire 2005 season was vacated for the Trojans—including their one and only loss to the Longhorns.
So, while they have played five times, officially, they have only played four times making this Saturday the fifth meeting between the two schools.
While this game may not feature players as dynamic as the 2006 Rose Bowl did, it will feature one of the best quarterbacks in college football (Sam Darnold) and a pair of excellent running backs (Ronald Jones II and Chris Warren III).
Many will expect the Trojans to dominate this game, but Texas may surprise a few people.
Texas head coach Tom Herman will probably not announce his starting quarterback until Game Day. But Shane Buechele has played well but may not be recovered from his injury in time to play. Freshman Sam Ehlinger wasn’t too bad against San Jose State last week either (15-27 for 222 yards; seven carries for 48 yards).
Either one could run the offense. But if the Longhorns are going to win, it will be because of the defense and the running game. Chris Warren III made up for a poor showing against Maryland with a 166 yard, two touchdown performance against San Jose State last week.
The Longhorns will need a similar performance against the Trojans if they are going to have a chance. But they are going to need a strong performance from their defense even more. However, in recent years, when Texas has played tough offenses, the defense has failed to step up.
But the defense has specialized in big plays this so far this season. Through two games, defensive back Holton Hill has recorded three touchdowns, two off interceptions and one off a blocked field goal. While Sam Darnold has been a pretty accurate passer this season (74.6 percent; 44-59), but he has also thrown four interceptions as well (two a game).
Hill would love nothing more than to add to his total with another pick-6.
If the Trojans are worried about the Texas secondary, they can just focus on the run game. Ronald Jones II and Stephen Carr have combined for over 460 yards and seven touchdowns in two games. Texas has struggled in recent years against strong running teams. They allowed Maryland to rush for almost 300 in their season opener.
With the talent the Trojans have on offense, they could easily run for 300+ against the Longhorns.
Texas will make this interesting— for about a half. The defense will make a few big plays, and Chris Warren will do his best to carry the offense. But in the end, the superior talent on the Trojans offense will wear down the Longhorns defense. In the end, the final score will look as bad as people expect it to look.
Oddsmakers favor USC by 16.5 points; expect them to cover it.