Perhaps the biggest nonconfer-ence game of the year kicks off Saturday night when USC visits OhioState, and our college football writ-ers see it playing out differently:
Why Ohio State wins
We know the crooked num-ber: Ohio State is 0-5 in its last fivegames against the top five. Here’sa zero number with more oomph:USC freshman quarterback MattBarkley hasn’t played a collegegame on the road. This one—primetime, loaded with pressure, againstan elite opponent—screams fresh-man mistakes. Too many, in fact, forUSC to recover.
Why USC wins
USC has more talent, more onthe line, and more confidence outof Week 1. Most important, Barkleywon’t need training wheels in hisfirst big game. He’ll lean on RB JoeMcKnight and his healthy offensiveline, and make the few throws USCwill need. Add it up, and the Trojansgrab the crucial road win.
Showdown in the ’Shoe
No. 3 USC at No. 8 Ohio State, Saturday, 8 p.m., ESPN
Two stars in Saturday’s game of the week share their thoughts:
Ohio State safetyKurt Coleman
“(This game) isgoing to be thedetermining fac-tor if we’re readyto step it up to the nextlevel or if we have to goback and rework somethings.”
USC offensive guard Jeff Byers
“Watching them, they’reat Ohio State for a reason. They’re talented, fastand strong, andthey’re well-coached. We knowwe’re going to get thatdefense’s best effort.”
More from Coleman and Byers,
THURSDAYSEPTEMBER 10, 2009SEE A DIFFERENT GAMEVOLUME 2 ISSUE 50
Texas 10, Cleveland 0N.Y. Yankees 4, Tampa Bay 2Minnesota 4, Toronto 1Boston 7, Baltimore 5Kansas City 5, Detroit 1
Chicago White Sox 4, Oakland 3, 13 innings
L.A. Angels 6, Seattle 3
Chicago Cubs 8, Pittsburgh 5St. Louis 5, Milwaukee 1San Diego 4, San Francisco 2Philadelphia 6, Washington 5Florida 6, N.Y. Mets 3Houston 2, Atlanta 1Colorado 4, Cincinnati 3Arizona 4, L.A. Dodgers 3
MLB>27 NFL>6 NBA>39 NHL>36 NASCAR>43 COLLEGE FOOTBALL>18 COLLEGE BASKETBALL>41 RECRUITING>4
Jeter ties Gehrig
Derek Jeterwent 3-for-4Wednesday inthe Yanks’ 4-2win to tie LouGehrig for mosthits by a Yankeewith 2,721. Butex-Yankeesare moreimpressed withthe way he carries himself—all class, allthe time, according to former pitcher Tommy John. He assesses Jeter’s placeamong Yankee greats.
“The Yankees have never really had a hitter’s hitter, guys like Pete Rosewho get 200 hits a year, except DonMattingly for a while. (Jeter averages208 per 162 games.) They’re more power hitters, guys who get 160 hitsand hit for power. To me, Derek Jeter is very consistent. He’s had a longcareer. He’s a very good hitter. I would love to pitch with a guy like himbacking me because you know he’sgoing to be busting his butt.”
— Matt Crossman
Clemson at Ga. Tech,
BY CLIFTON BROWN
Goodbye, preseason. Hello, realseason.The NFL kicks off its 90th cam-paign tonight with a matchup of twoAFC heavyweights. The Steelershope to become the first team sincethe ’04 Patriots to repeat as SuperBowl champs. But the Titans had theNFL’s best record last year (13-3) andwhipped the Steelers, 31-14, in Nash-ville last December.“They beat us handily,” Steelerscoach Mike Tomlin said. “We will findout about ourselves pretty quickly.”Here are five questions to ponder,while anticipating what should be asuperb season opener:
How will the Titans fare without defensivetackle Albert Haynesworth?
Haynesworth became the league’shighest-paid defensive player, bolting tothe Redskins in free agency.The Titans must prove theycan pick up the slack.“A good performance wouldshow that we have a lot of talentand we’re able to move on,” defensiveend Kyle Vanden Bosch said. “Weweren’t just a one-playmaker defense.”
Can the Steelers’ blitz get to Kerry Collins?
The Titans’ line protects Collinslike the secret service. He was sacked just eight times in ’08, and he readsdefenses well.“His decision-making is extremelyquick,” Tomlin said. “Very rarely do blitzes get him.”
Will Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger pulloff another special performance?
Big Ben loves the big stage—as heproved leading a last-minute, game-winning drive in Super Bowl 43.“It will be crazy—great atmosphere,everybody’s watching, all of your peersare watching,” Roethlisberger said. “Ithink you are going to get the best from both teams.”
Will Titans wide receiver Nate Washingtonplay against his former teammates?
Washington is a game-time deci-sion with a hamstring injury. Afteraveraging 16.4 yards per catch thelast three seasons with Pittsburgh,he is being counted on to upgrade theTitans’ passing game.
Are the Steelers ready for every opponent’sbest shot?
The Steelers have won six con-secutive season openers, and HeinzField will be rocking tonight. TheSteelers want to prove they are notresting on last season’s laurels.“It’s going to be a unique atmo-sphere; it’s going to be awesome,”Tomlin said. “What happened lastyear is in our rearview mirror.”
AFC contenders in center stageas NFL season begins tonight
TITANS AT STEELERS
8:30 tonight ET, NBC
Experts make casefor USC, Buckeyes