By Greg Katz – WeAreSC.com
The Obvious: Thanks to the momentum built from the Trojans crushing of Notre Dame, excitement is building as Cardinal and Gold fans are eagerly awaiting word on their team’s bowl destination.
The Not So Obvious: Well, here’s the latest as announced through the Trojans Sports Information Department as of Wednesday. According to a release, “This Sunday, the Pac-12 plans to announce its member schools’ bowl pairings at 2:30 p.m. PST. The College Football Playoff will announce the CFP semifinalists at 9:45 a.m. PST and the other CFP host bowl pairings at 11:45 a.m. PST.” The CFP and host bowl pairings announcement will be shown on ESPN. The official announcement for the Trojans bowl destination and opponent will be made at 2:30 p.m. PST.
The Obvious: The Pac-12 will hold it’s championship football game between Oregon and Arizona tonight at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara (6 p.m. PST/FOX), and it appears that the outcome will have a direct bearing on the Trojans bowl destination pecking order.
The Not So Obvious: According a report in this week’s the San Jose Mercury, the Foster Farms San Francisco Bowl appears set on inviting the Stanford Cardinal to face a Big 10 opponent if Oregon wins tonight against Arizona and/or the Wildcats make tonight’s game respectable by winning or losing, which would help the Pac-12 gain two precious spots in the so-called New Year’s Six (the two semifinals and the four bowls in the playoff rotation). If Oregon and Arizona are within the option of six, this will help in the forming the probable bowl destination options for the Trojans.
The Obvious: From the get-go, it appeared that neither the Trojans nor the Sun Bowl would be all that thrilled with a return visit to El Paso by the Men of Troy.
The Not So Obvious: While the Holiday Bowl still remains the Trojans likely bowl destination, apparently it would be wise not to completely count out the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio (Jan. 2) as a potential Trojans location. Bowl games are all about putting “heads in beds” and TV ratings when it comes to selecting teams. The Trojans bring people, as well the major L.A. television market. FYI, the Trojans opponent in the Alamo Bowl would come from the Big 12 while the Holiday Bowl would feature Big Ten opposition.
The Obvious: There is a Pac-12 pecking order to the bowl selections.
The Not So Obvious: According to a Holiday Bowl representative, the pecking order for Pac-12 teams commences with the Alamo Bowl followed by the Holiday Bowl. The Alamo Bowl will dictate the Holiday Bowl options. Word on the street is that if USC goes to the Alamo Bowl, UCLA goes to the Holiday Bowl or vice versa. If the Trojans head to the Alamo Bowl, Oklahoma is a name the O/NSO is hearing. For the Trojans in the Holiday Bowl, chances of a match with Wisconsin appears to be dimming with the Badgers playing Ohio State in the Big Ten title on Saturday. The O/NSO is now hearing Minnesota or Iowa. Both of the team will bring fans to San Diego, especially Iowa.
The Obvious: Oregon opened a 13½-point favorite to defeat Arizona in the Pac-12 Championship Game.
The Not So Obvious: The O/NSO agrees with the point spread, and Oregon could beat Arizona by even more, given the fact the Ducks will be playing for a CFP selection. UO quarterback Marcus Mariota can seal up the Heisman Trophy tonight, and nobody beats the Ducks three straight times, can they? Then again, Oregon will again have to deal with the Rich Rodriguez factor. Rich Rod was named this week as the 2014 Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
The Obvious: Both the Trojans and UCLA beat Arizona during the regular season, the Cardinal and Gold in Tucson and the Bruins in Pasadena.
The Not So Obvious: So which team, the Trojans or UCLA, is the more depressed watching Arizona play Oregon in the Pac-12 title game?
The Obvious: The Trojans lost to ASU on a Hail Mary in the Coliseum and UCLA smashed ASU in Tempe.
The Not So Obvious: So which team, USC or UCLA, is happier that the Sun Devils lost to Arizona and won’t be appearing in tonight’s conference title game?
The Obvious: The big question for the Trojans is how many underclassmen will declare for the 2015 NFL draft.
The Not So Obvious: The O/NSO thinks three are a lock – defensive tackle Leonard Williams, wide receiver Nelson Agholor, and running back Javorius “Buck Allen. All three are juniors and talented enough to make the next jump.
The Obvious: Trojans junior receiver George Farmer is just starting to scratch the surface of his athletic ability and live up to the hype coming out of Gardena Serra (Calif.) High.
The Not So Obvious: In case you haven’t heard, George has decided to “definitely” return for one more season with the Trojans, which is exactly what he should do to ensure a better future draft outcome. Good choice, kid.
The Obvious: Justin Wilcox is the Trojans defensive coordinator.
The Not So Obvious: Wilcox has been under constant fire in his first season at Troy. However, he had a good, attacking plan for Notre Dame, and his defense executed it to near perfection. Unless he gets a head job (Oregon State?), expect Wilcox to be return to the Trojans for a second season.
The Obvious: According to Steve Sarkisian, true freshman corner sensation Adoree’ Jackson, the Pac-12’s Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, suffered concussion-like symptoms in the first half of the Notre Dame game defending a deep pass and never returned.
The Not So Obvious: If the Trojans plan on winning its bowl game, they’d better hope for a speedy return by their talented freshman corner, who is a lock for freshman All-American honors.
The Obvious: Many Trojans fans were excited to see the offense against Notre Dame resemble the one that opened the season by stomping Fresno State.
The Not So Obvious: Nothing illustrated the openness of the Trojans offense against Notre Dame than senior tight end Randall Telfer, who caught three passes for 28 yards and a touchdown.
The Obvious: Trojans Georgia offensive tackle verbal Chuma Edoga was an unofficial visitor to the Trojans/Irish game on Saturday.
The Not So Obvious: Well, if you’re a Georgia Bulldogs fan, guess that puts the final nail in the old peach basket that Chuma is going to enter USC in February in time for spring ball. Edoga is scheduled to play in the U.S. Army All-America game in early January.
The Obvious: And finally, considering their team’s record, there was a nice turnout of Notre Dame fans who were placed in the last three sections of the Coliseum near the peristyle end.
The Not So Obvious: Irish fans probably knew it wasn’t going to be their day when Trojans former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Matt Leinart, he of the famous 2005 “Bush Push” touchdown in South Bend, led the Trojans out of the Coliseum tunnel moments before kickoff and was brandishing a Trojans sword, no less.