USC vs. Minnesota Match Up


On Saturday, the No. 25 Trojans will set out to win their 14th straight season home opener, this time against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the Coliseum.

Matt Barkley will lead the Trojans, as they begin their 124th year of football, this Saturday

Though USC is going into its second reloading season after receiving the bitter, vindictive wrath of the NCAA, this year’s team has already shown signs of being significantly better than last year.

For the Golden Gophers, this is head coach Jerry Kill’s first season after the Gophers finished 3-9 last season and fired Tim Brewster. Count on the Trojans to exploit all of Minnesota’s weakness—and they have a lot—to win this game.

The offseason for the Trojans wasn’t as volatile as the previous one, but one of ‘SC’s major playmakers, running back Marc Tyler, was suspended for a string of off the field, alcohol related issues. Consequently, Tyler—who was reinstated to the team last week—will not suit up for the season opener.

But Trojan fans need not worry about how well the offense will perform; Minnesota’s atrocious defense will have its hands full containing our offense, which brings more weapons to the field than the Marines to Baghdad.

This is Matt Barkley’s third season starting under center for ‘SC, and with the talent around him, he is poised to have a Heisman- worthy season this year. Last year he threw for 26 touchdowns and 2,791 yards, but his success was tainted by 12 interceptions.

A second year of development under offensive guru Lane Kiffin (who groomed NFL quarterbacks Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez and Matt Cassel), plus another offseason of synergy with a three headed monster in former ESPNU 150 top receivers Robert Woods, Kyle Prater and George Farmer, Barkley stands as the general of one very powerful army.

The Trojans will likely start Dillon Baxter, a running back that will have die hard USC fans drawing comparisons to Reggie Bush when he gets in space. Backing him up will be D.J. Morgan, whose versatility out of the backfield is unmatched, and Curtis McNeal, who serves as the teams power back when tough yards are a necessity.

Defensively, the Trojans are returning seven starters and will be debuting an improved, beefed up D Line with former All-American Christian Tupou back from a knee injury that sidelined him all of last year, and with Devon Kennard returning to his natural position.

'SC's receivers are expected to overcome the loss of Ronald Johnson

The line should hold up well against Minnesota’s run game, which isn’t particularly strong yet. The secondary—anchored by recently appointed Captain T.J. McDonald and cornerback Nickell Robey—has seen the most improvement since last season, and Minnesota’s stagnant offense will have trouble getting anything past these two through the air.

While the Trojans should by all reasons dominate this game, they should not count out Gophers quarterback Marqueis Gray. Gray was the 3rd best dual threat QB prospect behind Terrell Pryor and EJ Manuel coming out of high school. Likely the Big 10 impact player of the year, he stands poised to shock the world this season.

Unfortunately for Gray, its unlikely to happen this weekend, as he doesn’t have the weapons around him to utilize his talents against a defense composed of some of the best talent the west coast has to offer.

With all the Trojans have going for them—and all that Minnesota does not—I predict the Trojans will win this game 35-10.

It will basically be a squash game where we continue to adjust to implementing our offense and defense at game speed. This first game—which is also my LAST season opener as a college student, sad!—will also give our young playmakers a stage to show that they can hang in a college football atmosphere.

If nothing else, Minnesota fans can look forward to watching a football game in the beautiful sunny Southern California sunshine while the Trojans easily handle this match-up.

Kick-off is at 12:30, and the Trojans’ season will officially be underway. Fight on, game on.