Mike Hlas is an award-winning columnist with the Cedar Rapids Gazette and force behind The Hlog. Each week he will break down the biggest mismatches in college football. Considering the increasing number of Bowl Championship Series teams scheduling games against cupcake opponents, Mike's task is more challenging than trying to get Joe the Plumber to make a house call.
How can you not like USC coach Pete Carroll? He can find sunshine in a Pacific Northwest downpour.
"They do a lot of good things on both sides of the ball. They have really good schemes," Carroll said. Was he talking about California or Arizona or — dare we say it, Trojan fans — Oregon State?
No, that was a reference this week to Washington State. That’s the team that has lost is six games against I-A competition by an average of 40.7 points. That’s a team that is averaging 214 yards a game against I-A foes. That’s a team that is 0-6 against the pointspread this year, and was a 43-point underdog to the Trojans in midweek.
What if this game were being played in Los Angeles instead of Pullman? Then again, Pullman may be worse. Carroll can only bring the Pac-10 traveling squad limit of 64 players. Were this game in the L.A. Coliseum, he could start subbing in student managers and USC Song Girls in the third quarter to keep the score down. Rather, to possibly keep the score down.
It was our goal to include no one twice in our Game of the Weak. We had the Portland State-Washington State game four weeks ago. Wazzu won that, 48-9, leading us to believe Jerry Glanville has a lot of work before him at Portland State. But USC-WSU leaped out as this week’s worst game, since the Cougars already have losses to 66-3 to Cal, 63-14 to Oregon, and last week’s 66-13 battering at Oregon State.
Now, because of season-ending injuries to No. 1 and No. 2, poor WSU Coach Paul Wulff is going with No. 3 quarterback Kevin Lopina this week. USC is fourth in the nation in total defense, and has played a few teams who actually are familiar with the concept of advancing the football. Go lightly on Kevin, Trojans. He didn’t ask for this.
"I don't feel like we've played with the kind of consistency that we're capable of in a number of areas," Carroll said, "so we're going to try to get these things shored up over the next few weeks and maybe make a big push here."
Well, consistency is like cholesterol. There’s good and bad. Washington State is extremely consistent. Better to be erratic and occasionally hold your conference opponents under 60 points.
Thanks to Image of Sport.