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IMHO Sunday: Back in business

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC columnist

In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think.

The good news: If Trojans fans are in a bit of a positive frenzy after Oregon State’s stunning 35-27 upset of Arizona State on Saturday night in frigid Corvallis, they should be because the Men of Troy are back in business, mathematically at least closer to winning the Pac-12 South.

The formula is clear: Beat UCLA and Arizona State losses either to Washington State in Tempe this Saturday or at rival Arizona on Friday, Nov. 28, and the Trojans are Pac-12 South Champions and will face Oregon in the title game on Friday, Dec. 5, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. It’s certainly doable.

The bad news: If UCLA sweeps their final two home games against the Trojans and Stanford (Friday, Nov. 28), they win the Pac-12 South. The Bruins control their own destiny.

The good news: ABC must be clairvoyant for their decision to nationally televise the USC/UCLA game in prime time (5 p.m. PST) next Saturday was even before the results of Oregon State’s late night upset of Arizona State.

The formula is clear: The early evening kickoff at the Rose Bowl also means there’ll be plenty of daytime for tailgating and verbal baiting between the two fan bases down in the picturesque Arroyo Seco.

The bad news: Better carry a flashlight to find your car after the game, which is always a lowlight of attending a night game at the Rose Bowl. FYI, the long range forecast is for partly cloudy skies with a high of 66 and a low of 51. Rain is predicted on Friday, so that could affect the parking areas in Brookside Park.

The good news: In preparation for the UCLA Bruins, who barely survived against Cal, 36-34, in Berkeley in October, the Trojans opened up a 31-9 halftime lead against the Golden Bears on Thursday night and served notice again what they could be if they could only finish a game.

The bad news: In preparation for the UCLA Bruins, who barely survived against Cal, 36-34, in Berkeley in October, the Trojans were outscored by the Golden Bears 27-7 from the end of the first half to the conclusion of the game and served notice again what they aren’t able to do, which is to finish a game and become part of the Wheel of Fortune.

Ticket time: For those looking for a ticket to the UCLA game next Saturday at the Rose Bowl, StubHub’s lowest ducat is going for $122, located in Reserved Section 13,Row 53. It would be like sitting above or next to the players tunnel entrance in the Coliseum.

Just a thought: Maybe for UCLA Sark could script the second half offensive plays the way he scripts the first 16 or so plays in the first quarter.

The full Nelson: With a school-record two consecutive 200-yard receiving games, junior Nelson Agholor has now made an identity for himself that even Lynn Swann, Keyshawn Johnson, Robert Woods, and Marqise Lee never accomplished. Folks, this record is big-big.

The flash: Hey, wasn’t that sophomore Quinton Powell at defensive end chasing Cal quarterback Jared Goff around? Powell could be a factor trying to help contain UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. The Florida native had two tackles against Cal, including a sack.

The trifecta: Can’t remember in 52 years of watching Trojans games seeing three USC touchdowns called in one game in back due to penalty flags. If the Trojans unload another 159 yards in penalties like they did against Cal, they’ll be cooked raw by UCLA. Can Steve Sarkisian get his team to drastically cut down on the avalanche of penalties in one week? We shall see.

Mr. Rogers neighborhood: The Trojans should be thanking their lucky stars that Darreus Rogers came up with the late Cal onside kick, which would have brought back horrendous memories of the ASU debacle and don’t think those in person or watching on TV didn’t think about it.

SOS: Calling J.R. Tavaii. Calling J.R. Tavaii, the Trojans need you desperately for the UCLA game. Please respond.

And now from the peristyle end…

Oh mercy nurse: It was great to see and hear legendary Trojans radio voice Tom Kelly back in the Coliseum press box on Thursday evening after an undisclosed illness. The ultimate master of the cliché is always a treat when holding court.

Suggestion No. 1: Will somebody – anybody – please turn down the volume on the huge Coliseum video board. Pleasssssssse.

Suggestion No. 2: Will somebody also please coordinate the music between the video board and the Trojans Marching Band? Too many times they seem to be playing at the same time, which is totally unfair to the TMB. By the way, it was really awkward to see the TMB and the Cal band almost sitting next to each other during the game.

Who goofed: By no means are we perfect here, but having Trojans senior DB Josh Shaw on the cover of the game program drew some big laughs from inside and outside the press box. Shaw, of course, has been out due to his nationally renowned fib and the subject last week of his explanation of the unfortunate episode in his life.

A numbers game: Don’t even tell me that Thursday night’s game low attendance wasn’t greatly affected by playing the near the end of the workweek.

The Alamo:
Representatives from the Alamo Bowl, now a real possibility for the Trojans if they beat UCLA, were in the house on Thursday night. FYI, the Alamo, obviously played in San Antonio, Texas, will be held on Jan. 2, 2015 at 5:45 CST.

The ride home…

The Sanchise: Finally an offensive head coach for former Trojans quarterback Mark Sanchez and what a difference, at least for the present. Not since high school has Sanchez had an offensive minded head coach like Philadelphia Eagles Chip Kelly. No doubt about, Mark’s high school coach, Bob Johnson, has to be grinning ear to ear.

Mystery man: Just love those Dish commercials with former Trojans quarterback Matt Leinart, but why is it that Heath Shuler and “The Boz” are identified and there is no mention of Leinart by name? Does Dish think that Matty Lefty is so well known he doesn’t have to be identified to the public? Just asking.

TFAC: The Trojans Football Alumni Club is having its 2014 banquet in the Bashor Lounge of Heritage Hall on Tuesday evening, Nov. 25, and the guest speakers will be Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian and Senior Associate Athletic Director Steve Lopes. Cocktails begin at 5 p.m. with the dinner program at 6 p.m. Seating capacity is 70, so former players make your plans quickly. For more information, Contact: http://www.shop.trojanfootballalumni.com/2014-TFAC-Banquet-2014Banquet.htm.

The final word: Thumbs up to ASU head coach Todd Graham and his proposal to expand the College Football Playoff to eight teams to include the five major conference champions receiving automatic bids with three additional three at-large bids. From a Trojans perspective, this looks like a pretty equitable concept. Of course, an eight-team playoff it won’t fly because it’s too logical.





Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

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