at USC 38 ... Syracuse 17
Posted Sep 17, 2011

Week 3 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Syracuse at USC

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 3 - Syracuse at USC

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Sept. 17 at USC 38 ... Syracuse 17
CFN Analysis: COMING

(AP) LOS ANGELES -- Matt Barkley passed for 324 yards and a school record-tying five touchdowns to five different receivers, and Southern California's slumbering offense came alive after two mediocre outings in the Trojans' 38-17 victory over previously unbeaten Syracuse Saturday night.

Barkley completed 26 of 39 passes without being intercepted. The junior from nearby Newport Beach threw for five touchdowns twice last season and is one of five players to accomplish the feat at USC. He has thrown nine TD passes while being picked off just once this year.

Quarterback Ryan Nassib completed his first 11 passes for 74 yards, but finished 25 of 37 for 230 yards for the outmanned Orange (2-1).

Syracuse (2-0) at USC (2-0) Sept. 17, 8:00, FX

Here's The Deal … USC has won both of its games, but not many attaboys in the process. The Trojans needed a late stop to hold off Minnesota in the opener, 19-17, and a blocked field goal attempt at the end of regulation to avoid overtime with Utah in Week 2. While a win is a win, Troy's inability to put teams is cause for concern. It hasn't caught up with the team yet, but that's inevitable when playing a schedule that has few breathers.

For Syracuse, this first trip to the Coliseum since 1924 is basically a lottery ticket. Since an upset isn't expected the risk is low, but the reward for a shocker would be immense. The Orange has had its own problems in the first month of the season, needing to rally at home to beat Wake Forest on opening night and Rhode Island last Saturday. The near miss over the weekend is a particular concern since the Rams aren't even graded a contender in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Why Syracuse Might Win: Hey, as long as the Trojans are stumbling in the red zone and laboring to score points, no opponent is going to be out of reach. Over the last six quarters, USC has had no problems moving the chains, but has only scored two offensive touchdowns. The Orange will look to further that trend with a defense that gets to the ball and plays with sound fundamentals. Safety Shamarko Thomas and linebackers Marquis Spruill and Dyshawn Davis possess the range and instincts to close quickly on running plays. No Syracuse player will be more revved up for this game than end Mikhail Marinovich, whose brother Todd and father Marv played their college careers at USC.

Why USC Might Win: For all of things that have gone wrong with the Trojans, the play of the defense isn't one of them. Very quietly, the unit has started to recover from last season's implosion. USC is generating pressure and limiting big plays, especially on the ground. If it clamps down on Orange RB Antwon Bailey, the pressure for QB Ryan Nassib to produce will be immense. Syracuse will have to contend with a grown-up front seven featuring DE Nick Perry and DT DaJohn Harris up front, and Chris Galippo and rookie Hayes Pullard at linebacker. The Matt Barkley to Robert Woods hook-up is among the best in the country, already clicking 25 times for 279 yards and three touchdowns.

What To Watch Out For: Meet the new back, same as the old back. USC RB Marc Tyler, who led the Trojans in rushing and scoring in 2010, returned from suspension to quickly regain his spot atop the depth chart. The senior, who was benched for the Minnesota game, ran 24 times for 113 yards and a score. The most physical runner on the depth chart, he gives the program a thumper to hammer opposing and moves the sticks in short yardage.

What Will Happen: USC has been a vexing team under Lane Kiffin. The talent has been undeniable, but the results are rarely consistent. Essentially, the Trojans have become the program that can beat—or lose—to anyone. After two games, the staff is expecting better execution, especially on offense. With Tyler back in the fold to complement Barkley and Woods, USC will script its best effort of the month with the ball. The D will take care of the rest, making sure that fourth quarter heroics are not necessary for a change.

CFN Prediction: USC 27 … Syracuse 13
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: USC -17    O/U: 47.5

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