Monday, December 05, 2005

The "what if" game, USC version

Wow. That's mainly what I have to say regarding USC. Granted, USC's defense seems to take games off quite often, but they matched up very well regarding UCLA, apparently - UCLA's offensive line couldn't create any holes, and the few times UCLA tested USC's edge, there didn't seem to be much there, either.

That being said, though, UCLA mainly pushed up the middle, and tested the secondary, but USC maintained coverage pretty well. It's tough to tell how Penn State would do against USC's defense - UCLA and Penn State's offensive styles are pretty much directly opposite. But USC didn't have the obvious Achilles' heel that Texas did last week. Notre Dame was able to put up points versus USC by mid-to-deep passes, which Penn State could also do as well, but our bread-and-butter is rushing, and outside rushing at that.

It's a bit easier to guess how USC's offense would do against Penn State's defense. It's simple enough to say that Reggie Bush wouldn't run for 260 yards versus Penn State. Penn State simply doesn't give up extremely long runs like that, and the linebackers are usually able to contain runs that break through the defensive line to less than 10 yards. As for Leinart, that's a bit tougher to say. He looked positively awful in the UCLA game, and the Penn State secondary would've made him seriously pay for a few of those overthrows. But in general most of them were overthrown out of bounds, and so they weren't really that dangerous.

I think a Penn State-USC matchup would be a tough battle for Penn State. So long as we're playing the "what if" game, if Derrick Williams were back, I think Penn State might be able to take it. It would depend on how Robinson was passing.

Without Williams, though, the field compresses a bit, and I don't think Penn State would pull it out.

Note here that I'm not implying that Texas will lose. I actually think this is one of those cases where each of the three teams would beat the other and make a circle of death. I think Texas has a good shot at beating USC, as Texas's defensive strengths (fast, aggressive) play right into USC's style. Well, we'll see in a few weeks, won't we?

In the meantime, I'll follow the Nittany Blog's advice and stop complaining about the FSU matchup. He is right - a marquee matchup in a BCS bowl is more than any of us could've asked for a few months ago. And hey, getting to put the beatdown on Bowden and ensure that Paterno gains another game on him is all for the better.


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