coleryan Posts:13846 Followers:19
On 09/09/2013 07:28 AM in NCAA Football

Boston College Eagles at USC Trojans: Preview and Pick

Boston College Eagles at USC Trojans: Preview and Pick

In week three of the college football season it is rare that a game featuring Boston College and the USC Trojans would get that much attention, but after a slow start to the season the Trojans are under the spotlight. After an unforgivable loss to Washington State, the Trojans are now in must win mode against the Eagles.

Boston College Eagles at USC Trojans Odds

Despite the ugly loss a week ago, the college football betting line still opened up highly in favor of the Trojans. The odds opened up with the Trojans listed as (-17.5) point favorites. That number has dipped and can now be found at (-14) at several offshore sportsbooks, as 59 percent of the betting public are on the Eagles as they have given up on the Trojans.

The Eagles have plenty to be excited about as they are off to their first 2-0 start in three season, but they will get their first big test against the Trojans. The Eagles are a very good football team with a new coach but they don’t have half as many players on scholarship that the Trojans do. The toughest thing the Eagles will have to deal with this weekend is the hard-hitting Trojan defense.

The USC defense has already forced seven turnovers through the first two games of the season, including three (1 fumble recovered and 2 interceptions) in the loss to Washington State. The problem for the Trojans has been on offense where they cannot choose a quarterback.

Neither Cody Kessler or Max Wittek was able to get the offense going in the loss to Washington State, with Wittek (3-of-8, 13 yards, 1 interception) relieving Kessler (8-of-13, 41 yards, 1 interception) after the first half. Lane Kiffin is already on the hot seat, but a loss to Boston College would set that same seat on fire.

Both of these teams have a slew of negative college football betting trends heading into this game. The Eagles are 3-9 against the spread (ATS) in their last 12 games in September, 0-4 ATS in the last four games on grass and 0-6 ATS in the last six games on the college football highway.
The Trojans are 7-21 ATS in their last 28 games after allowing less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game, 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game and 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games overall.

Boston College Eagles at USC Trojans Pick

With plenty of time to go before game day, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to kickoff.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
  • 09/09/2013 12:49 PM

    Kiffin to announce starting quarterback today. Won't make a difference. Natives are restless out here. I believe Washington State loss was the final nail in the coffin.

coleryan Posts:13846 Followers:19
09/10/2013 04:00 PM

Two games into the season, it seems that USC has finally settled on a starting quarterback. After splitting the job between sophomores Cody Kessler and Max Wittek through the Trojans’ 1-1 start, coach Lane Kiffin named Kessler as the team’s starter for its Week 3 game against Boston College.

Both quarterbacks struggled during USC’s opening win over Hawaii, as well as in the loss to Washington State last Saturday. In the two games, Kessler and Wittek completed 26-of-50 passes for 226 yards and one touchdown, with three interceptions. Against the Cougars, Kessler and Wittek passed for only 54 yards while throwing two picks.

Kiffin had been largely silent on the issue of his team’s starting quarterback throughout fall camp, as the program looked to replace the departed Matt Barkley. The coach opted to split time between Kessler and Wittek to start the season, but that decision that hasn’t paid off. Going into Week 3, the Trojans were tied for 112th in the country in passing offense (113 yards per game).

Kessler has been the more productive passer, outgunning Wittek 136 yards to 90, and has completed 56.3 percent of his passes compared to Wittek’s 44.4-percent. Perhaps more importantly, Kessler lays claim to USC’s only passing touchdown, a 19-yard strike to receiver Nelson Agholor against Hawaii

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The last time the USC Trojans and Boston College Eagles met on the college football field, the characters were completely different while the script surprisingly looked rather similar. For one Pete Carroll was coaching the Trojans in what would be his final game at USC, while true-freshman starter Matt Barkley was finishing up his first season under center to the tune of a 24-13 victory. Following his first season as a true freshman starter, an accomplishment still resting in the history books, the post-Christmas gift was the product of a coaching staff investing in one younger quarterback and building the offense around his skill set.

Fast forward four years and USC football is facing similar constraints following one worst offensive statistical performances in history, according to head coach Lane Kiffin. The game itself did present a share of positives, amongst the bevy of poor series on offense, as the far superior unit will be tested rather differently this week.


What to expect from Boston College:
This years Boston College team has already matched their winning total from last season, following impressive victories over Villanova and Wake Forest to start the season. The Eagles keys towards success have been centered around winning the turnover battle, one in which they currently rank inside the top ten in the nation.

That being said, the Trojans rough-and-tumble defense will be looking to flip the tide on that recent success starting up the middle with Leonard Williams and George Uko who have been doing an outstanding job clogging up the middle. Granted Hawaii and WSU are by no means rushing Goliath's, but the Trojans post the best rushing yards against (0.57 YPC) average in all of college football through two weeks of the season.

USC will be tasked with the assignment of slowing down the inspiring rusher Andre Williams in the Eagles backfield. "I'm a big running back, I'm 230 pounds, and I just have to be true to myself and realize that I can punish people, I can wear down the defense, and that's just the role I'm gonna embrace," Williams told ESPN last week.

The Trojans understand that their rush defense will be put squarely to the test this week in what should be the most physical game of the season to this point. While the offense remains in flux, the defensive front seven has been rock solid, and should enjoy a classic battle of strength versus strength on Saturday afternoon.


DEFENSE ATTACK, GET THE BALL BACK:
USC's defense currently is first nationally in sacks (5.5, first in Pac-12) and rushing defense (15.0, first in Pac-12), third in interceptions (6, first in Pac-12) and tackles for loss (10.0, second in Pac-12), 11th in total defense (226.5, second in Pac-12) among many top-notched categories through the first two weeks of the season.

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Boston College will be making just its sixth trip to the state of California and only its second visit to Los Angeles. The Eagles last three trips to California were for the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco recently with losses against USC (24-13) in 2009 and then two years later against Nevada (20-13 loss) in 2011.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13846 Followers:19
09/11/2013 03:14 PM

Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but the Trojans truly recognize that change needs to take place this week and players are taking the bulk of the responsibility. Following the wrenching loss at the hands of the Cougars, many of the veteran players took to social media along with a players-only meeting rally the troops for the long journey ahead.

Back on the practice field working away at some of the major concerns in the passing game, coach Kiffin pointed out many of the positives that have been thrown under the bus due to the end result of wins and losses on the field. "We got a running back that is running the ball very well, our defense is playing phenomenal. Strange as it may seem, things are going very well," Kiffin said about his teams outlook to this point in the season.

Despite not receiving the greatest calling of support in their home opener, players understand the aches and pains their fans suffer but also want to avoid all the distractions. "Fans being fans. They are on the outside not on the inside," Marqise Lee said about the echoes of boo birds that swarmed the Coliseum Saturday night. "Kiffin is going to be there, and we are going to continue to keep it going."

What light shines at the end of the tunnel on the inside? First and foremost, the physicality and toughness in practice has vastly translated over to the field on both sides of the ball. Last season, the Trojans were considered by many fans and opposing teams specifically, to be a rather finesse team that would get pushed around each and every snap.

Thanks to the addition of coach Pendergast along with a new-found commitment to the running game, the Trojans have certainly set the table in most aspects of their game. "One of the things that is going well is how physical we are playing at practice, as opposed to last season," Kiffin points out as a major positive throughout the early portion of the season.

While the poor performance on offense will certainly carry the major headlines for the remainder of the week (arguably so given its ramifications on the season), the team keeps it mind focused on one major aspect. "Just focus on ourselves, we are doing a lot of things really well. We gotta fix the things we are not and improve on those," Kiffin said.

Players have moved on while accepting responsibility for their poor performance in the deep-passing game. And If life is going to change on the outside, the Trojans will need a breakout performance from the Trojans Biletnikoff Winner Marqise Lee, who Kiffin says has kind of gotten into his own way the past few weeks.

"He is just so competitive, he wants everybody to do well," Kiffin said about some of the struggles Marqise Lee has been facing this season. "Sometimes that gets him off balance a little bit from just doing his job."

Leaders like Marcus Martin believe the recovery process is evolving, but that his role on the team can help steer this ship. "It's just one of those things where you have to be a team motivator, if you are not looking out for the offense you are looking out for nobody," Martin, one of the two offensive captains said about improving his offense moving forward.

Moving forward, the margin for error will continue to shorten each and every week especially playing in front of the "road-like" atmosphere players and coaches recognized from their vividly upset crowd. Making each and every practice rather crucial in the midst of a substantial recovery process for an equally challenging schedule that lies ahead.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13846 Followers:19
09/12/2013 01:41 PM

Southern Cal’s iconic “Fight On,’’ which is played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum after every Trojan first down or touchdown, blared from a loudspeaker as the Boston College football team practiced on the grass field at Shea Field on a sultry Wednesday morning.

It seemed to play on a loop as the Eagles prepared for the din that awaited them in their first road game of the season Saturday against the Trojans.

For BC senior quarterback Chase Rettig, a native of Sierra Madre, Calif., the musical accompaniment certainly had a familiar ring to it. “It’s going to be fun,’’ said Rettig, the only player on BC’s roster from the Golden State. “I grew up going to USC games and UCLA games, so it’ll be fun and have the chance to get to see my family because my family doesn’t get the chance to see me play a lot.’’

With each player allotted four tickets per game, Rettig said he likely will turn to his teammates for help in satisfying the numerous requests he’s received this week from family and friends. “Yeah, I got a lot of texts from a lot of people back home excited about the game, but it doesn’t really matter unless you play well and you win,’’ said Rettig, who has started 35 career games for the Eagles, including the last 34 in a row. “That’s the biggest thing. We’re just trying to prepare well to do that.’’

Although the game will mark BC’s fourth overall meeting against the Trojans, it will be Rettig’s first against USC. The last time the Eagles faced the Trojans, quarterback Matt Barkley threw for a pair of touchdowns and ran for another in a 24-13 victory in the 2009 Emerald Bowl in San Francisco.

Saturday Rettig will guide his 2-0 team into his Southern California backyard to face a 1-1 Trojan squad that has been dealing with a QB duel between Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, who combined for 54 net passing yards in a 10-7 loss to Washington State in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.

USC coach Lane Kiffin, who attempted to recruit Rettig when the coach was at Tennessee, resolved the matter this week when he selected Kessler to be the starter for the remainder of the season.

“Personally, I was kind of an under-recruited kid back home,’’ said Rettig, who played his first three seasons at La Salle High in Pasadena, Calif., before finishing up his senior year at San Clemente High, where he threw for 1,748 yards and 18 touchdowns and ran for 349 yards to earn All-South Coast League first-team honors. “It’s not like I wanted to go to a school in California, per se,’’ added Rettig, who chose BC in part because it was the first school that showed interest in him. “But, obviously, when you don’t get seen [in high school] and then you come back [as a college player], you just want good things to happen.

“But I’m not focusing on that. We’ve got to do everything we can to try and win this game and that’s my take on every game. But you can’t look at it like, ‘Oh, you’re going back home. Oh, your whole family’s going to be there.’ It’s all about the team and it’s going to be about trying to put our team in the best position to be successful on the field.’’

BC coach Steve Addazio knew Rettig, who has completed 30 of 44 passes for 408 yards and four touchdowns this season, just needed to remain consistent. “Obviously he has to play a great game on Saturday,’’ Addazio said. “He knows it. Your quarterback is the guy. He’s got to play a great game. He’s got to get the ball out of his hands and be efficient and, on top of what he’s doing, be a leader. I think he’ll be all of those things.’’

While Rettig took a low-key approach, his teammates know how much the game means to him. “We had Monday off, but [Tuesday] morning we came in and the wake-up was like 5:45 or something like that,’’ said senior right tackle Ian White, a cocaptain. “And at 5:20 I get a text from Chase saying, ‘Let’s go boys, this is our week. This is when we really got to show ourselves.’ He’s really excited for this game. He’s always the type of leader who’ll shoot texts and stuff like that, but this was before wake-up at 5 in the morning. He was ready to go.’’

Addazio said he detected a smoldering intensity from Rettig this week in practice. “There’s no doubt that kid has a burn inside,’’ said the coach. “Who wouldn’t? You’re going home to play. I think any competitor has that feeling. So I know he does and, yes, I can see it in his eyes. He’s still going to keep his personality, but he’s not over the top. But I can’t imagine there is a guy more excited to be getting on that plane tomorrow.’’

When he returns to Southern California’s warm embrace, and its climate, USC’s fight song no doubt still will be ringing in Rettig’s ears. “I already knew that song and some other things, so some things I’ll be familiar with,’’ Rettig said. “It’ll be fun just to be back, but the most important thing is singing our fight song at the end of the game.’’

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13846 Followers:19
09/13/2013 04:10 PM

Five things to watch .

1. Cody Kessler’s confidence.
Lane Kiffin got off to a quicker start than normal this week by naming Kessler the permanent starting quarterback on Monday. That means Kessler gets more snaps in practice to improve his game and doesn’t have to look over his shoulder wondering if the next mistake means he’ll get pulled from the game. That also means that there can be no more excuses. Kessler told reporters after practice on Tuesday that he has a “new sense of confidence” now that he’s secured the starter’s job. Trojan fans will hope that the confidence shows itself on the field as Kessler looks to build on two mediocre starts thus far.

2. BC’s running game.
Boston College’s Andre Williams is a one-man wrecking crew, logging 204 yards on 31 carries in the Eagles’ 24-10 win over Wake Forest. This week, however, he comes up against the #1 rush defense in the nation this season. The USC defense has risen to the test presented to them each week thus far. They have surrendered a total of 13 offensive points and shut down both Hawaii’s pro-style and Washington State’s Air Raid. USC has yet to be tested with a consistent running game however. The Trojans limited Hawaii and Washinton State to 30 rushing yards combined, but Williams will present a much tougher challenge.

3. Tre Madden’s carries.
Speaking of running games, USC’s has gotten off to a bright start this season behind the strong running of Madden. With 100+ yards in both games, Madden has been by far USC’s most potent offensive weapon. His carries spiked exponentially against Washington State, but that was by necessity — as the Trojans struggled to get their ineffective passing game going, Madden was called upon to carry the offense which resulted in 31 carries and a worn-down running back. Justin Davis ran the ball well in the second half against Hawaii, but was nowhere to be found against the Cougars. He saw just two carries for two yards.

4. The Coliseum crowd.
The much publicized “Fire Kiffin” chants speak for themselves, but the booing is a real concern for the Trojans as they return the Coliseum this week. Kiffin joked about learning how to play on the road, but Kessler was more direct: “It gives the other team momentum when the fans boo you.” Fans will argue that they weren’t booing the players. By and large, the play calling and Kiffin were the objects of fan abuse. Having said that, Kessler’s point stands. The negativity in the Coliseum gives the other team a boost and the complete reversal of home-field advantage could be a major factor if the Trojan offense doesn’t get off to a strong start on Saturday.

5. Marqise Lee’s positive impact.
Kiffin felt the need to have a conversation about playing within himself as it has become increasingly clear that the Trojan wide out “is pushing himself a little too much, trying a bit too hard” to make an impact. In fact, Lee’s impact so far has been more positive than negative. He has turned the ball over, he has dropped passes in key situations and he has cost the team yards and first downs by going for the home run instead of taking what is there. The good news is that Lee is a supreme talent and it is a much better problem to have a player who tries too hard than one who doesn’t care.

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0
coleryan Posts:13846 Followers:19
09/14/2013 09:08 AM

This is a must win for USC and although Boston College has looked good so far this is a big step in class.

USC makes a statement.

PICK: USC -14

  • Last 7 Days Record: 5-7-0