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Trojan paradox: Successful season opener against Rice will have limited success

Trojans Wire logo Trojans Wire 8/15/2022 Matt Zemek
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It is a classic paradox: USC will have a successful season opener against Rice if the Trojans aren’t overly successful.

Obviously, the Trojans are playing a cupcake opponent, while Oregon faces Georgia and Utah faces Florida. The stakes and the value of these games are different.

Utah simply must beat Florida, period. That’s all the Utes need to do: Get out of Gainesville with a win.

Oregon would love to beat Georgia, but playing the defending national champions in Atlanta is likely to be a loss. The Ducks need a game which significantly improves all aspects of the team for the road ahead.

USC’s game against Rice is not going to be particularly close on the scoreboard, which means the Trojans and their fans shouldn’t get caught up in the final score. Winning by 70 might mean this offense is ready for the season, but since Stanford is waiting just around the corner in Week 2, the USC outlook against Rice boils down to giving the Trojans a much better idea of what they need to do on the field in live game action.

The Rice game needs to prepare USC for Stanford. That means giving the Trojans a mixture of success and failure. Seeing Lincoln Riley’s system work properly is part of the plan. Players do need to realize that when they do things correctly, good things happen. However, Rice’s skill level won’t prepare USC for the physicality and speed Stanford is likely to provide. Therefore, USC players need to encounter enough difficulties against Rice to the extent that they will be on guard, attentive, and urgent in the Stanford game. The Trojans need to be humbled often enough against Rice that the coaching staff can point out their failures and iron out the deficiencies during the week of practice leading into Stanford.

We talked about this with Mark Rogers at The Voice of College Football. Our weekly show with Mark is every Tuesday at 1:05 p.m. in Los Angeles.

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