What Will The Trojans Performance Against BC Tell Us About 2010?


Amidst the rubble of a disappointing 2009 college football season, the USC Trojans will try to pick up the pieces against a game Boston College Eagles team Saturday in the Emerald bowl.

For the first time in seven years, the Trojans will be participating in a non-BCS bowl game.

There is precedence for such an occasion.

Pete Carroll’s first year with USC, in 2001, with the Trojans riding a five game winning streak, lost to Utah 10-6 in the Las Vegas bowl.

The following year, Carson Palmer led the Trojans to an 11-2 record and a win over Iowa in the Orange bowl.

That year started an unprecedented seven year run where USC both won at least 11 games each year and finished in the top four nationally.

Of course, the comparisons end there for the 2001 and 2009 versions of USC.

In 2001, Pete Carroll was largely playing with those players left over from the infamous Paul Hackett year.

This year, the Trojans will be fielding a wildly inconsistent team, at times effective offensively, at other times woeful.

Meanwhile, the defense excelled for the first six games and then went south for the remainder of the season.

The only thing for sure about the 2009 USC Trojans was that nothing was for sure.

So how will the Trojans respond to this challenge of Boston College in the Emerald Bowl and what will this say about the 2010 Trojans?

Well, there are ominous signs already.

Three players that Pete Carroll was counting on will not be available on Saturday against the Eagles.

Averill Spicer, Anthony McCoy and Tyron Smith have all been declared academically ineligible for the Emerald bowl.

Spicer and McCoy will not be back next season but Smith, a starter already on the offensive line, will be an anchor for Carroll in 2010.

That is, if he stays focused and gets back into academic good graces.

Then there is the Joe McKnight saga.

McKnight, who was recently allowed to travel north and practice with the Trojans in preparation for the Emerald bowl, remains in limbo awaiting clearance from the NCAA which may or may not come by game time.

It appears that Joe McKnight is an innocent victim of a overzealous Los Angeles press contingent and McKnight, for one, is none too pleased with the turn of events that has seen his eligibility put on the shelf for the last week.

Joe McKnight, who is good enough to play on Sundays was recently quoted that he was probably going to come back to USC for his senior year.

Now I’m not so sure that McKnight will be as eager to sacrifice NFL riches for a return to college when he has a baby to care for and an over eager press corp auditing his every move looking for trouble and manufacturing it when they have any opportunity.

Such is the life of an athlete who plays at USC.

The real story come Saturday is which USC team shows up to play BC.

Will it be the focused Trojan team that beat Cal 30-3 in Berkeley or the sloppy team that was embarrassed by Stanford 55-21 at the coliseum?

Matt Barkley, the fabulously talented, but sometimes inconsistent true freshman quarterback, says that this game will be the first step to a Trojan turn around in 2010.

That much is true.

How USC plays in the last game of 2009 will be the first step to a successful 2010.

If the Trojans can find themselves on Saturday getting back to the execution and fundamentals that marked the previous seven years of Pete Carroll led Trojan football, then they will easily beat BC and start the Trojan road to recovery in impressive fashion.

If not, questions will abound in the off season and Trojan naysayers will have a field day.

So while this Saturday’s game may not either doom nor elevate the Trojans for the 2010 season, it will be a good indication of the Trojans desire to improve upon a sour 2009 season and build a foundation for next year.

And for eager USC Trojan fans, it will be game that has the potential to give them something to look forward to for next year.

And that is something that spoiled USC fans can use for comfort in a trying 2009 season.