It seems odd to me that the masses had to wait until mid-October to get a USC game in prime time, but nevertheless, here we are with Matt Barkley’s crew taking on in-state rival Cal at 9 PM ET on ESPN tonight.
It’s going to be critical for Barkley and company to make sure they maintain focus for this game without looking forward to their next two games against Notre Dame and Stanford, two games that will determine the rest of their season, in all likelihood.
As always, USC is flooded with kids who are capable of playing in the NFL, but as of right now, many of them are still youngsters. Aside from their junior signal caller, the most dynamic playmaker the Trojans feature offensively is 19 year old sophomore Robert Woods, a 6’1″ 180 pound receiver out of Carson, California.
Woods has 55 catches for 747 yards this season, second and third in the country, respectively. His six touchdowns also lead the Trojans, and he should have another huge game on Thursday with a relatively soft Cal defense (as we saw last week vs. Oregon).
Another player worth watching is safety T.J. McDonald, who had six tackles and a pair of interceptions against Arizona last week. McDonald is one of the top rated safeties in this year’s class.
Senior running back Marc Tyler is looking to have a rebound game after a forgettable 11 carries for 35 yards against Arizona last week. He had a huge game in USC’s only loss to Arizona State with 22 carries for 149 yards and a touchdown.
Still, the star of the show is expected to be quarterback Matt Barkley, who should have a huge game on a national stage and get everyone talking about how he is a top five pick and all that jazz.
You can check out our list of the top USC prospects for 2012 by our own Nick Castillo, as well as my review of the Cal Bears.