As LSU, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida all get set to beat the crap out of each other in the coming weeks, USC coach Pete Carroll had the gall to refer to his Pac-10 slate as “ridiculously difficult” during his media conference call today. It’s a schedule so daunting that none of the nine challengers to USC’s conference crown are currently ranked in the AP top 25.
By comparison, there are three Mountain West and two WAC teams in the most recent AP poll. But Carroll knows more than I do, so let’s examine what will certainly be a daunting slate:
Oregon State: Lost to Stanford. Blown out at Penn State. Drubbed rebuilding Hawaii.
Oregon: Now playing its fifth-string quarterback, who was nearly good enough to bring Ducks back to beat Boise State.
Arizona State: Lost to UNLV. At home.
Washington State: The Cougs have lost by 63 to Cal, 26 to Oklahoma State, and 28 to Baylor. Now their top two QBs are out for the year with broken backs.
Arizona: Beat UCLA. Lost to New Mexico. They might actually not be that bad.
Washington: 2nd-ranked Oklahoma beat them by 41 points in Seattle.
California: Looked good initially, but was handled easily by mediocre Maryland.
Stanford: After last year, Trojans probably not looking past this one. Cardinal were whacked by TCU and Arizona State and lackluster in win over San Jose State.
Notre Dame: Cal beat Michigan State. MSU destroyed the Domers.
Yeah, Pete, a real doozy you have to get through, there. Still, he tries to get people to buy what he’s selling, per ESPN.COM’s Ted Miller:
“We have a way we deal with our opponents and our scheduling that we have always done that has nothing to do with what everyone else thinks,” he said. “Every game for us is a championships — an enormous event and opportunity. It doesn’t matter what the setting is.”
Clearly, after last year’s embarrassment against Stanford, Carroll has to be extremely diligent in getting his players to believe that each game is going to be tough, even though every Trojan game from here on out will involve a point spread of at least three touchdowns.
At least Carroll was able to get through the entire call today, thanks to the state of Ohio not being involved.