Thanks to "rules", the 2011 USC Trojans won't be bowling. There is no doubting that the team is talented, but it's hard to pay attention to a team that is, for lack of a better word, irrelevant. That said, beating USC is no less important to Bruins everywhere.
According to the USC website, Lane Kiffin is "known for his high football IQ". That's funny, because I thought he was known for Al Davis' projector presser, backstabbing Knoxville, and general douchebaggery.
Kennedy Polamalu coordinates the 29th ranked Trojan offense. Some of you might remember that he is the coach that Kiffin poached from SC alum Jeff Fisher's staff in Tennessee, leading to a lawsuit between the Tennessee Titans and USC.
Ed Orgeron coordinates the defense, although everybody knows that Kiffin's daddy is the architect of the defense. The defense is ranked 53rd nationally in total yardage and 58th in scoring defense.
Matt Barkley (Jr., 6'2 220 lbs.) has apparently turned into a Heisman candidate despite the fact that his team is going to the same bowl as New Mexico St. He has been really good this year, throwing for 3,105 yards with 33 TD's and 7 INT's, but I just can't imagine a player from an ineligible team winning the statue.
Curtis McNeal (Jr., 5'7 180 lbs.) and Marc Tyler (Sr., 5'11 230 lbs.) lead the underrated USC rushing attack. McNeal leads the team with 881 yards and 5 TD's, but Tyler has added 537 yards and 4 TD's.
The most talented group at USC is their receiving corps. Robert Woods (So., 6'1 185 lbs.) and Marquise Lee (Fr., 6'0 190 lbs.) are both dynamic receivers that will be used all over the field. Woods leads the team with 99 receptions for 1179 yards and 13 TD's. Lee adds 60 receptions for 919 yards and 9 TD's. Brandon Carswell (Sr., 6'1 195 lbs.) is the third receiver, but he is a clear #3 option with only 18 receptions for 153 yards. USC does have very talented George Farmer (Fr., 6'1 205 lbs.) and Kyle Prater (Fr., 6'5 210 lbs.) behind Carswell, and oddly enough is using more of their limited scholarships on more receivers next year.
At TE, USC has a pair of very good freshmen. Randall Telfer (Fr., 6'4 230 lbs.) and Xavier Grimble (6'6 245 lbs.) have improved weekly and cannot be forgotten in this offense. Telfer has 22 catches for 229 yards and Grimble adds 15 for 144 yards. They each have 4 TD receptions.
Defensive end Nick Perry (Jr., 6'3 250 lbs.) is a wrecking ball. He has 8.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss. Wes Horton (Jr., 6'5 260 lbs.) starts on the other side, while space eaters Christian Tapou (Sr., 6'2 290 lbs.) and DaJohn Harris (Sr., 6'4 305 lbs.) start inside.
The linebacking corps is small and fast. Freshmen Hayes Pullard (Fr., 6'2 225 lbs.) and Dion Bailey (Fr., 6'1 195 lbs.) are both essentially safeties at the linebackers spots. Bailey leads the team with 76 tackles in only 10 games. Pullard is second on the team with 72. Chris Galippo (Sr., 6'2 250 lbs.) is a traditional MLB, and Lamar Dawson (Fr., 6'2 235 lbs.) is waiting to take his spot.
The secondary is the least talented group on the team, but they have started to play better lately. T.J. McDonald (Jr., 6'3 205 lbs.) and Jawanza Starling (Jr., 6'1 195 lbs.) start at safety and will be responsible for the deep halves. McDonald is third on the team with 57 tackles.
Cornerbacks Isiah Wiley (Jr., 6'1 185 lbs.) and Nickell Robey (So., 5'8 165 lbs.) are unspectacular. They won't be asked to do too much and won't be left on islands in coverage.
USC has given up two kickoff return TD's and has returned one. They will use Woods and Lee as return men, and do use the return game as a weapon.
Andre Heidari handles the placekicking duties and has done a solid job. He is 15 of 17 on FG attempts and has made all 44 of his XP attempts. Kyle Negrate handles the punting and is averaging about 39 yards per punt.
That concludes the USC Trojan preview. Fire away with additional thoughts, comments, and favorite stories about the crosstown rivalry.