In this Pac-12, a USC playoff run would require true greatness

USC’s Zachariah Department dash forward of Stanford’s Gaethan Bernadel to attain on a 75-yard punt return within the second quarter of the Trojans’ 56-10 win Saturday at Coliseum. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Occasions)

Up 49-3 along with his Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback not wanted for your complete second half, Lincoln Riley rampaged up and down the USC sideline, crimson within the face. The Trojans’ punt return unit couldn’t get on the sphere correctly, forcing Riley to burn a meaningless timeout in a recreation that was over the second it started.

An off-the-cuff observer might have seen Riley’s response and determined the hotshot younger coach was majorly missing in life perspective. This observer? Fairly on the contrary, I believe Riley had it good, revealing a wholesome understanding of simply how little USC’s romp of Stanford proved — and the way daunting the remainder of the season seems to be now, understanding what we all know after two full weeks of he faculty soccer season.

Learn extra: Caleb Williams on USC’s rout of Stanford: ‘We’re making an attempt to make all people really feel our ache’

The Trojans’ first bye week is right here, and so they higher take full benefit. As a result of the cakewalks are over for good. USC’s second bye week is completely positioned on Thanksgiving weekend, the week earlier than the Pac-12 championship recreation. However for the Trojans to qualify for that recreation in Las Vegas — and positively for them to be enjoying for a spot within the School Soccer Playoff semifinals — precise greatness shall be required.

USC gained’t be using an ideal run via a clumsy Pac-12 to the playoff within the league’s remaining season as a serious convention. It appeared that might be the case within the preseason, however now one may argue the Pac seems to be like the perfect of the “Energy 5.” Undoubtedly, it’s essentially the most entertaining.

Heck, as Riley was freaking out about his punt group late Saturday evening, Cal was main Auburn within the third quarter (the Golden Bears didn’t pull off the upset on account of three missed area objectives). After all USC ought to have the ability to deal with its journey to Berkeley Oct. 28, however, sandwiched between enormous contests towards No. 12 Utah and No. 8 Washington on the Coliseum, the pesky Golden Bears characterize a respectable entice recreation.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams scrambles before completing a pass against Stanford.

USC quarterback Caleb Williams scrambles earlier than finishing a go towards Stanford within the first quarter Saturday. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Occasions)

Probably the most dramatic change in perceived diploma of problem on USC’s schedule is the journey to No. 22 Colorado on Sept. 30. Deion Sanders and his swaggering Buffaloes have taken over faculty soccer in his first season teaching on the sport’s prime degree. As if Colorado’s exhilarating wins over Texas Christian and Nebraska and the fixed repetition of his Aflac advert with Nick Saban didn’t deliver sufficient “Coach Prime” into our lives, I knew we had been dwelling in Sanders’ world on Saturday after I noticed him featured in an advert for California Almonds.

After final season, Riley may have been the spokesperson for quick switch portal turnarounds, however Prime seems to be like he’s about to take that one, too.

All joking apart, can Trojans-Buffs get right here already? Even when Colorado loses the week earlier than at Oregon, the shine gained’t come off the chance to observe Prime’s son, the graceful Shedeur Sanders, and do-everything vast receiver/cornerback Travis Hunter come after Williams’ Heisman.

Two weeks later, USC travels to Notre Dame, which earned its No. 10 rating by dominating North Carolina State Saturday on the street. The Preventing Irish are a way more harmful group this yr with veteran Wake Forest switch Sam Hartman at quarterback.

Then there’s USC’s remaining Pac-12 tussle with Utah, which impressively simply beat Florida and Baylor with out quarterback Cam Rising. You suppose Kyle Whittingham gained’t have the Utes able to quiet the Coliseum?

To start out November, No. 8 Washington and No. 13 Oregon await USC throughout again to again weeks. These had been at all times going to be headliners, however take into consideration how good UCLA freshman quarterback Dante Moore could possibly be when Nov. 18 rolls round?

Earlier than the season, I picked the Trojans to make the playoff semifinals. Their efficiency has executed nothing to dampen these expectations, however their opponents have raised the usual. Something however a transcendent USC season that’s worthy of this system’s annals gained’t get it executed in 2023.

And that’s precisely what the long-tortured, tried-and-true Trojans ought to need. Pete Carroll’s 2004 group wished to “go away little question” on its solution to a nationwide championship, and, with this gantlet forward, this group can hush all doubters with a playoff run.

Steve Sarkisian’s massive evening

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian watches from the sideline during a win over Alabama on Saturday.
Texas coach Steve Sarkisian watches from the sideline throughout a win over Alabama on Saturday. (Vasha Hunt / Related Press)

Texas’ 34-24 win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa Saturday evening was the most important victory of Steve Sarkisian’s teaching profession. I didn’t suppose Sark may take a group, even one as proficient as these Longhorns, into Bryant-Denny Stadium and beat his mentor, Saban. I assume I’m not the one critic he proved mistaken Saturday both.

One of the best information for Texas followers? This win didn’t really feel remotely fluky. The Longhorns had been simply the higher group on either side of the ball, and with Sark calling performs, the sky is the restrict for quarterback Quinn Ewers and the compelling solid of playmakers round him.

Texas’ schedule from right here is fairly favorable. The Longhorns shall be favored to win each recreation, and whereas I don’t anticipate them to run the desk, they’ll doubtless afford to lose a recreation and nonetheless make the playoff semifinals with a large win like this of their again pocket.

Now all Texas and Sark should do is play with the burden of expectations. No massive deal, proper?

Clear the best way

Florida State running back Caziah Holmes scores on a touchdown run against Southern Mississippi.

Florida State working again Caziah Holmes scores on a landing run within the fourth quarter of a 66-13 win over Southern Mississippi on Saturday. (Phil Sears / Related Press)

As a fan, I really like this season thus far. Whereas the nation awaits Georgia’s first loss — we’re most likely going to be ready fairly some time given the Bulldogs’ delicate schedule — a set of fascinating groups are ascendant and constructing calluses.

Florida State and Texas have the 2 largest wins, over SEC West powers Louisiana State and Alabama, respectively. The Seminoles and Longhorns haven’t gained the CFP nationwide championship (Texas hasn’t made the four-team playoff area in any respect), in order that they’d really feel like recent blood.

Alabama, Clemson (after shedding to Duke — Duke!) and LSU are going to have a tough time making their approach again to the playoff, which is wild to say after week two.

Georgia’s current dominance and Ohio State’s year-over-year consistency are probably all that’s standing in the best way of the CFP crowning a brand new champion within the final yr of the four-team playoff.

Cougar energy

Washington State fans celebrate on the field after the Cougars' win over Wisconsin on Saturday.
Washington State followers rejoice on the sphere after the Cougars’ win over Wisconsin on Saturday. (Younger Kwak / Related Press)

Washington State made fairly the compelling case that it belongs on the prime of the game on Saturday, knocking off Wisconsin 31-22 in Pullman.

The Cougars already comprehend it doesn’t work like that. They beat the Badgers final yr in Madison, too, which didn’t matter one bit when the Pac-12’s properties had been being wolfed up by the Huge Ten, the Huge 12 and the ACC.

We should always all take pleasure in rooting for Washington State and Oregon State this season and much into eternity.

Future Huge Ten energy rankings

1. Michigan

2. Ohio State

3. USC

4. Penn State

5. Washington

6. Oregon

7. UCLA

8. Iowa

9. Wisconsin

10. Purdue

11. Maryland

12. Minnesota

13. Michigan State

14. Rutgers

15. Indiana

16. Nebraska

17. Illinois

18. Northwestern

Get the perfect, most attention-grabbing and strangest tales of the day from the L.A. sports activities scene and past from our e-newsletter The Sports activities Report.

This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Occasions.

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