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CHRIS DUFRESNE'S MAILBAG

USC in the Sugar Bowl? Not such a sweet possibility

The Times' college football writer gives the answers to readers' questions.

November 21, 2009

The Times' college football writer takes time out (he gets two per half) each Friday during the season to answer questions.

Question: USC in the Sugar Bowl? Give me a break. How many fumbles, interceptions does it take before Pete Carroll's ego decides that maybe the freshman should spend some time as an understudy, while the Parade All-American on the bench (Mitch Mustain) gets a start? Is Pete Carroll just that determined to play only California quarterbacks or what?

Jack Swink

Fort Smith, Ark.

Answer: I suggested the Sugar Bowl last week as a possibility if USC finished 10-2 but didn't win the Pacific 10 Conference.

After watching the defense move the last few weeks, I have now slotted the Trojans into the inaugural Molasses Bowl in ImMobile, Ala.

Point two: History says Pete Carroll will play out-of-state quarterbacks if they have three names, hence Louisiana's John David Booty getting his shot at Rose Bowl glory.

You can extrapolate: had Mitch Bobby Mustain transferred to USC from Arkansas, he might have gotten a shot to play.

Q: I apologize to you. I was very critical of your comments about Matt Barkley, and in the end, you were basically correct. This has been a very humbling year for SC fans and our beloved Trojans. Arrogance is a terrible thing, and it got the best of us.

Warren Daniels Jr.

Chicago

A: No apology necessary. In Barkley's case, it was just a matter of looking at history. Young quarterbacks make mistakes and Barkley was 18 when he started the season. He has now thrown 28 interceptions his last two seasons, counting the 18 he threw last year at Santa Ana Mater Dei High.

Thinking you could win a national title with a true freshman was hubris, but maybe Carroll knew this team wasn't going to win one anyway and wanted to get Barkley ready for his sophomore and junior years.

Remember, Barkley can't declare for the NFL draft until three years after his high school class graduated.

I'll never understand the way Pete handled the quarterback situation this year, but maybe knowing he was going have Barkley for three years was part of it.

The original plan to protect Barkley behind a great offensive line and a solid defense worked pretty well until the defense became a flammable liquid.

Q: Why does Jim Harbaugh wear a whistle during games?

p tessaro.

A: I'm not sure. My best guess is he blows it whenever he gets 48 points against USC and wants to get to 50 with a two-point conversion.

Q: The two-point conversion was Harbaugh's way of dishing out a little that the whole Pac-10 has taken from USC for years. . . . He, with the failed two-point conversion, just told Carroll, "Whatcha gonna do about it, punk?"

Trey Dunia

A: You may be right and I can't wait to see what Carroll does about it.

Q: Would USC even play in the Emerald Bowl or Las Vegas Bowl?

twitter.com/@MauiThomas

A: Why not? USC fans for years have said they were tired of the Rose Bowl and wanted to go somewhere else.

"Now playing at Caesars' Palace . . . Siegfried and Pete?"

And, if what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, maybe the defense will stay there.

USC will take any bowl assignment it gets, if only for the extra practice time you get in December.

USC is currently tied for fifth place in the Pac-10 so there's also a chance the Trojans could drop into the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego.

Hey, it's not a bad bowl. Last year, Texas Christian edged Boise State by a point in one of the better postseason matchups.

Q: Mr. Dufresne

55-21

Are you OK?

Harborcoat73@aol.com

A: Yes, unless you're a doctor telling me that's my blood pressure.

I'm guessing you think USC's loss to Stanford by that score would hurt me somehow because I am a homer journalist from L.A. who roots for the local teams to win.

Actually, at games, I root for a decent parking pass, a solid Internet connection, a good story and any team with a lead that runs the clock out so I can beat my deadline.

Q: Chris? Where are the Badgers? You should be required to spend a Big Ten football weekend in Madison, Wis., with Barry Alvarez to get your mind right.

The Times has been especially neglectful of the Badgers this year and your leaving them off your Times' rankings in today's paper is inexplicable. . . . A front page apology is in order here.

Bucky

(Francis Quinlan)

A: Sorry Bucky, I lost track of the Badgers after they almost lost in overtime at home to Fresno State.

Frankly, it's hard for me to justify having three Big Ten teams in my top 25 based on the conference's power rankings. The Big Ten is ranked fourth in three BCS computers, fifth in two and sixth in one.

Wisconsin lost to the two ranked teams it played in the league, Ohio State and Iowa, by 28 total points. And the Badgers didn't play the other, Penn State.

What, I'm supposed to throw a bratwurst on the grill and celebrate identical 31-28 wins at Minnesota and Indiana?

The Badgers can still win a "share" of the Big Ten title, but I don't share the opinion that it's an injustice they're not ranked.

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