The Big Ten just released its conference schedules and hoo-boy, the USC Trojans have their work cut out for them.
Before we dive in—err, sink into—the proverbial three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust match-ups, let’s tiptoe into USC’s non-conference schedule, keeping in mind the Trojans close their season with Notre Dame.
Hold your breath. Tread lightly. Don’t faint.
The Trojans open up their season with a trip to Las Vegas (hooray!) to play the LSU Tigers (good feeling gone).
Remember the days when USC played Auburn and Arkansas and taught those SEC kids a lesson? Well, that was a few decades ago.
You would have thought the Trojans’ two-date disaster with Alabama would have scarred their brains enough to where scheduling any SEC team (except Vanderbilt, of course) was an act of a madman.
Alabama beat USC 52-6 in 2016 and although their second date in 2020 was scrapped due to the Pac-12’s Covid-19 paranoia, let’s give Alabama the win anyway. Before I hear any discourse, remember… Clay Helton was the Trojans’ head coach at the time.
Opening with LSU in a “neutral venue” is an interesting move. Name me a game where an SEC team played in a neutral venue and didn’t have home field advantage.
The SEC always has an advantage when it comes to neutral venues. They travel better. They drink more—okay, to be fair, the Washington State Cougars are allowed to ask the SEC fans, “hold my beer.” They scream louder. They win more.
But let’s get back to psychoanalyzing USC…
How USC finishes this season directly affects USC fans’ appetites for a potential butt-kicking by another SEC team next season. If USC beats Washington, Oregon and UCLA this season, then traveling to Vegas to play LSU looks like a fun thing to do.
Up until kickoff.
You get my drift.
USC follows up that bruising home opener with Utah State. The Aggies are no slouch. They are the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers of the Mountain West. Always an upset threat. In 2021 they upset Washington State ( a 19-point favorite) and Air Force (a 9-point favorite).
USC gets a bye week before—wait for it—its conference opener AT MICHIGAN on September 21.
At the Big House.
With Jim “What’s your deal?” Harbaugh coaching (?) in his khakis from the sidelines.
Hopefully, USC has been keeping an eye out for a strange man wearing sunglasses who records games from the Coliseum stands, am I right Trojan fans?
I know. So many questions.
In any case, this autumn game is sure to be a College Gameday venue. If USC can beat Michigan, it can go home and celebrate by playing Wisconsin on September 28.
Welcome to the Big Ten, boys.
It snowed in Madison on Thursday, according to my new-to-the-Midwest-life daughter, so getting the Badgers at home is a huge relief. The following week the Trojans play the Golden Gophers. Playing at Minnesota in early October means chilly weather, but not ice storms. That is another bonus.
So far, no weather issues for our fair weather Southern Californians.
The Trojans get Penn State at home on October 12. They then travel to Maryland the following week. An afternoon high in the low-70s is not uncommon in mid-October in College Park.
So far, so good.
USC hosts Rutgers on October 26. This game—barring any changes to the current level of play the Scarlet Knights are exhibiting—should be a bit of a welcome relief.
A road trip to Washington opens up November play. Again, Seattle in November should be cold, possibly wet, but nothing the Trojans cannot handle. Unless SC’s running game goes south, of course.
USC has a bye week and then closes out its season hosting Nebraska on November 16, playing at UCLA the 23rd and hosting Notre Dame on the 30th, two days after Thanksgiving.
Overall, USC should be thanking the scheduling gods for—weather wise—a fantastic first foray into the black-and-blue division of Power 5 football.
But there is something else to think about. USC will have to eventually play some of these cold-weather teams in November.
Madison, Wisconsin is a beautiful city. In November, the average lows are sub-freezing.
Last November, Lincoln, Nebraska spanked out two days where the lows were single digits.
Dress accordingly, fans. Try to blend in with the Midwesterners. If USC fans think their UGG boots and Abercrombie and Fitch lightweight puffer jackets will keep them warm, well, get ready for Instagram fame.
Weather delays, flight delays, 9 a.m. PT games, snow days, icy roads and yes, Dorothy… tornadoes are all in play right now.
Cheese curds, hand pies, hot dish, buckeyes, puppy chow, toasted raviolis and sugar cream pie are also in the Cardinal and Gold’s future.
And we are all for it. This is what USC needed.
For Trojan fans and their football team, a new beginning is something to behold. A fresh start. A solid future. And a championship schedule to boot.
No more Pac-12 B.S.
No more Pac-12 refs.