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'Collision at the Coliseum'
Posted Sept. 12, 2008
Richard Lugo
Sports Editor

It has been nearly 28 years since they last played each other. It was named by Sports Illustrated as “the top potentially season-defining game of 2008.” It will set an attendance record. It will generate huge ratings for ABC, and will no doubt be an instant classic.

In what is being considered the most anticipated college football game in recent history, the No. 1 ranked USC Trojans face off against the No. 5 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes this Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Love them or hate them, the Trojans remain a dominant program that competes for a national championship almost every year. Not only do they pile up wins every year, they also schedule games against credible out of conference opponents, something that Ohio State rarely does.

This season, they may have outdone themselves by scheduling another perennial championship contender in Ohio State, which has played in the BCS National Championship Game the last two years.

Saturday’s game will most likely make or break the season for the Trojans and the Buckeyes, and other top programs will be tuned in for the results. When two historic universities or football factories, as they are often called, are pitted against each other, we all gather to watch. In games like this heroes shine and legends are made.

Though the two schools have not faced each other since 1990, they are linked in history on so many levels. Ohio State and USC have played against each other in seven Rose Bowl games, are tied (along with Notre Dame) for having the most Heisman Trophy Winners with seven each and have tallied a combined 16 National Championships and 49 College Football Hall of Famers between them.

While the status of Ohio State’s injured starting runningback and Heisman candidate Beanie Wells is listed as probable, it is still undetermined as to whether or not he will be effective. The Buckeyes are also expected to let quarterback Terrelle Pryor get a chance to run the offense on Saturday. Pryor, the 6’6 freshman, resembles the kind of athleticism that Vince Young and Dennis Dixon used to help their teams beat the Trojans in years past.

Either way the Buckeyes have the daunting challenge going up against one of the most talented defensive teams in the country.

Although they lost several key players to the NFL draft, Southern California will depend on linebackers Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing to anchor the defense, which held Virginia to seven points in their season opener.

Both teams have offensive and defensive questions that will be answered.

For Ohio State: Can they travel across the country and beat the No. 1 ranked team? Can they move the ball consistently with their star running back coming off a toe injury? Can they stop an impressive looking Trojans team that exploded for 52 points against Virginia in their season opener?

For Southern California: Can their young receivers step up and take pressure off the running game? Can quarterback Mark Sanchez fill the void left by Heisman Trophy winners Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer and lead the Trojans to a BCS National Championship? Can running back Joe McKnight be the next Reggie Bush?

All of these questions will be answered in front of a sold out crowd at the Coliseum, which has not seen a regular game of this magnitude since Notre Dame came to town a few years ago with an unblemished record.

This spectacle has quickly become the hottest ticket in town. Don’t believe me? Currently, the best tickets you can purchase on www.stubhub.com are in row 18 and are selling for $2,500 each. On a budget? Try row 94 (the last row in the stadium) which you can purchase for $388 a seat.

Like any big game, this one will be covered by the media and hyped up to include all the makings of a championship game. The Trojans and the Buckeyes will make history tomorrow.

“It’s games like this that make us,” USC head coach Pete Carroll said during the preseason Pac-10 Media Day.

The game will feel like a championship game, as it should. After all, the winner of this game will probably be playing in the BCS National Championship in Miami come Jan 8.

Richard Lugo, a senior communications major, is sports editor of the Campus Times. He can be reached by e-mail at richard.lugo@laverne.edu.