Recently, The Sports Debates discussed the topic of which 2009 college football game would be the most important of the season. My opinion then (and still today) was that the matchup in Columbus between the USC Trojans and The Ohio State Buckeyes would be the most important game for the entire year.
That game takes place this weekend, and is THE game that you simply CANNOT miss!
Sure, the NFL kicks off this weekend, but let’s be honest… the implications from the outcome of a game during week one of the NFL season are minimal. Every team still has 15 more games to prove they deserve to be in the playoffs.
That is not the case for Ohio State or USC. This game for the Buckeyes and the Trojans is essentially the same as a playoff game, with the entire season on the line for BOTH of these teams when they take the field on Saturday evening. The team that wins will be rocketed into BCS National Championship discussions (especially following Oklahoma’s loss to Brigham Young last weekend). For the team that loses, all National Championship hopes are lost, and the BEST they can hope for is a conference championship and a BCS appearance in the Rose Bowl.
The games during the first weekend helped to set the stage for a very interesting matchup. Southern Cal, behind true freshman quarterback Matt Barkley, completely dominated their opponents, the San Jose State Spartans, with a final score of 56-3. The Buckeyes, on the other hand, were involved in a nail-biter against the Midshipmen from Navy, which had the opportunity to tie the game in Columbus with less than three minutes to go. The Buckeyes did manage to escape the game against Navy with a ‘W,’ but it raised questions in many minds about how they would fare against a much more talented USC team.
When the rankings came out this week, they reflected those sentiments exactly, with USC moving up to the number three spot and Ohio State dropping to number eight, despite their win.
There is a lot at stake for both teams in this game, and both need this win badly.
The matchup at quarterback will also be very interesting to watch. It is not often that a sophomore is considered the veteran quarterback in a top-ten matchup, but such is the case for Terrelle Pryor and Ohio State. Having played as a true freshman last season, Pryor knows exactly the pressure that Barkley will be under in Columbus.
Will Pryor’s “experience” be enough to give him and his Buckeyes the edge they need, or will the talent of the USC star-in-the-making be too much for The Ohio State defense to handle? Will the Buckeyes be able to break their recent streak of losses against top-five teams, or will USC march into the Horseshoe and prove that they can win outside of the comfy confines of the Coliseum? Which team will carry the pride of their conference? Who is the contender, and who is the pretender?
I will definitely enjoy the kickoff to the NFL season, but I am most looking forward to the playoff atmosphere of the college season in Columbus on Saturday!