USC's Pac-10 rivals should be smelling blood in the water. The Trojans enter 2009 with more questions marks than any of Pete Carroll's teams in recent memory, with major holes to fill all over the defense and at quarterback.
The top challenger to the throne has to be Oregon. That should make the USC-Oregon matchup on Halloween at Autzen the conference's game of the year. If Carroll has proved anything during his time in Troy, it's that he has an unmatched ability to get his teams primed for a big game. 'SC fans have no reason to fear their boys will leave Eugene with a win.
Of course, what goes up inevitably comes down. As amped as the Trojans have been for quality opponents, they've shown a tendency to be equally unfocused against lesser competition. If anything, then, it's the week after a big game that should have Trojan Nation concerned.
That takes us to USC's trip to Tempe on Nov. 7. Coming off what Homerism expects to be a win over the Ducks that solidifies the Trojans' spot back on top of the Pac-10 heap, a road trip to face the Sun Devils definitely qualifies as a danger game.
Two losses by at least 20 points to USC can't sit well with Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson. A coach with Erickson's history of building up downtrodden programs recognizes an opportunity to take down the king of the mountain when he sees it. He'll have his squad ready to go for what will likely be a rowdy night game in the desert.