I think we're all in agreement that there's a pretty good chance Tressel could have his best Buckeye team this fall. No apparent weaknesses. Yet, will his best be enough to topple the premier team of this decade, in their place?
A veritable Florida State of the aughts, the Trojans are so consistently good that whenever there's an uncertainty about who should start as the preseason #1 team in America, USC is thrown in as part of the top cluster.
Sure, Southern Cal only returns 11 starters from a team that was supposed to win it last year, but that's all good -- the last four recruiting classes were ranked 1st, 1st, 2nd and 8th on signing day.
We'll break this game down in due time, but over the course of this summer, these five things keep popping into my head and scaring the shit out of me:
1. Taylor Mays
USC's free safety is gigantic for his position at 6'4" and 230 pounds. Oh, did I mention that he's run a 4.25? He's a Pryor-like superfreak on the defensive side of the ball. The Trojan secondary isn't expected to be quite as good as it was last year, but Mays may be the best defensive back in the nation. Think Sean Taylor. But Bigger. And hunting Boeckman ducks.
2. Rey Maualuga & Brian Cushing
The West Coast version of Laurinaitis and Freeman. But bigger. Maualuga passes out pain and Cushing has earned all-conference nods at two positions. The loss of Rivers is not insignificant, but the fact that the Trojans are well positioned to take on the strength of the Buckeye offense should give pause.
3. Those Running Backs
When most teams spell their workhorse, the drop-off in talent is evident when the backup takes the hand-off. When USC spells a running back, the guy getting the carry was likely the nation's top-rated running back at one point in high school. Johnson, McKnight, Gable, Tyler -- the Trojans are loaded. Granted, USC's line shouldn't be as good as its been in recent years, but with that kind of depth, the Buckeye defense can't afford a play off.
4. Pete Carroll & His Gigantic Big Game Gonads
Pete's the one coach that's pretty hard to hate. Chill guy, good with the players and absolutely money in big games. Since he's turned around USC, the only big game he's lost was to arguably the greatest college football talent of the last quarter century. And that was to prevent his team from three-peating. While his teams drop the occasional game to inferior competition, they simply do not lose big games. And the game on 9/13 is a tad big.
5. Will Ferrell
I haven't trusted that guy since Elf.
What's at the top of your nightmare list for the USC game?