There's a huge battle ready to get going this Saturday inside The Coliseum. No. 1 USC and No. 5 Ohio State, scratching and clawing for 60 minutes of the best college football this country has to offer.
There's another battle, though, that I'm more concerned with.
As you may or may not know, I've spent the overwhelming bulk of my life nestled in the nape of Big Ten country. I went to a Big Ten school. I painted my room Big Ten colors.
It's all I knew (save for a year in SEC country).
Now, I'm out here in Southern California, and my eyes have been opened to an all-new brand of football.
In an effort to quash any conflict between Midwestern Dan and SoCal Dan, I got them together for a chat about the upcoming Ohio State-USC game.
Midwestern Dan: This is a huge game for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are the flagship for my favorite football conference. The days of the big, bruising Big Ten teams are gone. This Buckeye team is built for speed. They may even be fast enough to hang with the Trojans.
SoCal Dan: Dude, you're crazy. Ohio State may be faster than Northwestern, Wisconsin and all those plodding offenses. Football is played by athletes, not by huge stiffs. I don't see how Ohio State can hang with all of the Trojans' playmakers.
MD: Playmakers? The Buckeyes have plenty. James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins, Brian Robiskie - should I continue? Ohio State's been good enough to get to the past two National Championship games. Oh, and there's this new guy on the team, Terrelle Pryor, and if I recall, USC can't stop dual-threat quarterbacks.
SCD: Whoa, whoa, whoa. You named three guys. USC has closer to 30. Anyway, Pryor's essentially a rookie. He's three games into his career. Is he really ready to deal with this defense? I know the Trojans have hard times with guys like Vince Young and Dennis Dixon, but those guys were veterans. They could run AND throw. Pryor might as well be out there with a sign around his neck that reads "quarterback draw." No way he's as big of an impact player as.... hold on. What's that?
Southern Dan: SEC! SEC! SEC! SEC!
MD: I hate that guy.
SCD: Back to the game, Ohio State doesn't have its best player, Chris Wells. And, I'm not sure how they're going to handle C.J. Gable, who I think is on the verge of being a really special player.
MD: Handle Gable? How about Laurinaitis, the most complete player on the field. He's a sideline-to-sideline guy with plus speed, great toughness and tons of smarts. He's the surest on either side of the ball.
SCD: Speaking of sure things, is there any way the Buckeye offense moves the ball on this defense? I know there's tons of experience up front, but really dude, how can you forget about the best back seven in the country. Plus, USC is remarkable healthy.
SD: SEC! SEC!
MD: I'm ignoring him.
SCD: USC has the better quarterback, the better running backs, the better receivers, the better linebackers (maybe) and better safeties. How can they lose?
MD: Ohio State needs to control the ball, keep the USC offense off the field, create turnovers and limit USC's big plays.
SCD: Simple as that, huh?
MD: It won't be easy, but all this blowout talk is a little premature, don't you think?
SCD: Probably, but USC looked invincible in all three aspects of the game in their opener. Ohio State pounded Youngstown State and looked just awful against Ohio.
MD: I don't think that means much. Ohio State knows it has a great chance to prove its critics wrong. Either way, it'll be a privilege to be there.