Saturday, September 27, 2008

What USC Needs to Fix.

PANIC! At least according to the media.

Mark Schlabach says that now other conference champions can afford to lose a game, because there's no way USC can leapfrog them.

Ted Miller says that even if the other conference champions lose two games, it guarantees nothing for the Trojans.

Dennis Dodd says that the loss is part of a disturbing trend.

Mike Ventre says that USC can forget about another national title.

These people are sensationalist idiots looking to attract readers through gloom and doom. One of the few respectable sports journalists in the world, Mark Bowden, readily admits that the sports media doesn't know a thing about sports. And it's true. It's amazing that the very people who vote in the AP poll don't know the twisted rules that they themselves cast their ballots by.

Unlike Ohio State, USC's problem is one of execution, not a systemic flaw in the very nature of their program. Undefeated seasons in a BCS conference are rare, because it's extremely difficult to go out and execute at a level needed to win each and every game. It's hard for USC, and it's hard for other teams too. Dodd said that it was part of a trend. No, it's part of the norm. In the last 36 years, USC has gone undefeated a whopping 1 time. Losing happens. It's not some disturbing trend that heralds the collapse of a team into the dark pits of mediocrity. Hell, LSU, last years champion, lost to not one, but two unranked teams. And this is assuming that when it's all said and done, Oregon State will still be unranked, which I honestly doubt.

That's important because it shows us exactly what USC needs to do to right the ship, and unlike Ohio State, they can do it this season. All they need to do is win. If USC wins out, it would take not one, but two BCS conference champions to go undefeated to bar them from the national title game. And it's simply because of the way the voters in the poll naturally cast their ballots. A team losses, and they drop. It doesn't matter who they lose to, that only governs how far you drop. At this point, there are still 18 undefeated BCS teams. They are spread amongst 5 conferences. That means at most 5 teams will go undefeated. If that happens, I will eat my hat. USC will probably drop to between 7 and 11 in the polls. Because this loss happened so early in the season, they'll have plenty of time to crawl back up the polls as the remaining undefeated teams kill each other off.

Remember, in 2006, USC lost to an unranked OSU team that had previously been blown out 42-14 on the road against a WAC team. They still managed to claw their way back up the polls to put them into a position to compete for the national championship. This is a very talented team, that can win any given game if they execute. They need to execute, they need to win. If they win out, they will more than likely be back in the title game. There's no need to panic. If they lose again though, then they're done.

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