|Enough hype: Trojans, Buckeyes ready to go|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 12 September 2008 11:34|
``I don't really care. I'm tired of talking about it,'' Ellison said after being asked - again - about injured Ohio State star Chris ``Beanie'' Wells. ``If he's in there, good for him. You want to play their full squad. We're going to play whoever they bring.
``It's time to play. It's time to hone in and get down to it. It's going to be rocking at the Coliseum.''
No doubt about that. On Saturday night, No. 5 Ohio State plays at No. 1 Southern California in the most highly anticipated September college football game in years.
That pretty much says it all.
A sellout crowd of 93,607 will be on hand at the Los Angeles Coliseum, with some paying big bucks to be there. According to ticket distributor StubHub, it's selling tickets for an average of $405 a piece.
Trojans have won 38 of 39 at home and haven't lost a nonconference game since 2001, when Kansas State beat them 10-6 in Pete Carroll's first year as the USC coach.
USC went 6-6 in Carroll's first season, but are 71-8 in the past six-plus years. Jim Tressel became the Ohio State in 2001 as well, guiding the Buckeyes to a 7-5 record in his first year. They've gone 69-11 since.
The Trojans (1-0) will be playing their first game since an impressive 52-7 victory Aug. 30 at Virginia. Ohio State (2-0) has beaten in-state opposition Youngstown State 43-0 and Ohio University 26-14.
Wells, who rushed for 1,609 yards and 15 touchdowns last season, injured his right foot in the opener and without him, the Buckeyes had to rally to beat the lightly regarded Bobcats last weekend.
Tressel said early in the week that Wells would play, but it was a different story Thursday, when he said the 6-foot-1, 237-pound junior was doubtful because of lingering soreness in his foot.
``Doubtful doesn't mean he's not playing,'' Carroll said. ``I'll be surprised if he's not out there.''
USC defensive coordinator Nick Holt said the Trojans face a difficult challenge whether Wells plays or not.
``They've got a veteran offensive line, four of the five starters are back,'' Holt said. ``They're dangerous no matter what because they're very experienced up front. If you don't stop the run against these guys, they'll get after you, they'll make you pay.''
Perhaps that task would be a bit easier if Wells can't go.
Trophy candidate,'' Holt said. ``(But) I don't want to belittle the other guys. They're good, too.''
The other guys are redshirt freshman Dan Herron, sophomore Brandon Saine and senior Maurice Wells, who shared the carrys against Ohio University.
Todd Boeckman, in his second year as the Buckeyes' starting quarterback, passed for 2,379 yards and 25 touchdowns with 14 interceptions last season, and 297 yards and two TDs with no interceptions so far this year. Freshman Terrelle Pryor, one of the most heavily recruited prep players in the country last year, has gained 89 yards on 14 carries and passed for another 35 yards.
Carroll said he expects to see both players.
``They present different situations and different problems,'' Carroll said. ``Terrelle Pryor is a great athlete. This guy is a really big-time player.''
Quarterback Mark Sanchez will be making his fifth career for USC. He passed for a career-high 338 yards and three touchdowns at Virginia, where five different tailbacks scored touchdowns for the Trojans.
``We'd better be fast,'' Tressel said. ``I don't care what they're running, they are fast.''
Both teams appear loaded on defense, especially at the linebacker position, where Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing lead the way for USC and James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman star for the Buckeyes. All four are seniors.
``Those guys are everywhere,'' Tressel said of the USC standouts. ``It seems like you've been watching them forever. They have a real knowledge of what people are doing on offense. They're obviously physical, and they run like crazy.''
Carroll called Ohio State's defense ``the best in America.''
``This is the ultimate challenge at this point,'' he said. ``How can you play anybody better than the best?''
Regarding the Buckeyes' linebackers, Carroll said: ``They're quick agile, athletic. They pressure a lot. They put them in positions a lot to make things big happen, and they do it. We have great respect for what they do and how they play.''
Carroll also noted Ohio State's experience, saying: ``When you return 18 starters, that's probably the max.''
USC is an 11-point favorite over the Buckeyes in the first game between the teams since 1990. USC has an 11-9-1 record in the series that dates back to the days of coaches John McKay and Woody Hayes, but has won the last five matchups since Ohio State prevailed 42-21 in the Rose Bowl following the 1973 season.
``Growing up in Ohio in the late '60s, those were the years Ohio State and USC were playing in the Rose Bowl frequently,'' Tressel said. ``In my background, USC was the pinnacle. They have great talent. What I love about them is their discipline. They play the game the way it's meant to be played. They go out there and have fun, they compete.''
Carroll knows all about Ohio State as well, in part because he served as an assistant coach under Earle Bruce in 1979.
``They've got a great history,'' Carroll said. ``They've got great leadership. They've got impact, extraordinary players in all phases of their team. It makes for an unbelievable opportunity.''