Matt Barkley enjoyed the relative comfort of home in his debut as USC's starting quarterback, more than 85,000 fans cheering the freshman as he led the Trojans to a season-opening victory over San Jose State.
The atmosphere will be about 100,000 times more hostile Saturday when the Trojans play Ohio State at the "Horseshoe" in Columbus.
More than 105,000 fans are expected to fill Ohio Stadium to root on the Buckeyes and make things especially tough on a true freshman quarterback playing his first road game.
USC Coach Pete Carroll knows how intimidating the venue can be for opposing quarterbacks.
Carroll was Ohio State's secondary coach in 1979, which was a year the Buckeyes went 11-0 before losing to USC in the Rose Bowl.
"It was a great crowd then and it's even better now," Carroll said Sunday. "Their fans are loud and awesome. If they get it going, it's really hard."
USC has mostly fared well under Carroll in hostile non-conference environments.
The Trojans have won their last three games at Notre Dame, but they lost at South Bend in 2001 and at Kansas State in 2002. USC won at Auburn in 2003, in Landover, Md., against Virginia Tech in 2004, at Arkansas in 2006 and at Nebraska in 2007.
The Auburn, Virginia Tech and Arkansas games were season openers, which gave the Trojans months to prepare. The Nebraska trip followed an open date.
USC has been studying Ohio State since the end of last season, but Barkley's inexperience, the Ohio Stadium atmosphere and the lack of extra time to prepare could make this Carroll's toughest nonconference road test.
"It's the state school," Carroll said of playing before the Buckeyes' rabid following. "It's the real deal."
So, apparently, is Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor.
The sophomore led the Buckeyes to a 31-27 victory over Navy on Saturday, passing for one touchdown and running for another.
"[Pryor] is almost untackle-able, if that's a word," Carroll said. "We have to work on the tackling."
The 6-foot-6 Pryor has come a long way since last season when he split time with senior Todd Boeckman in a 35-3 loss to the Trojans at the Coliseum.
Pryor completed 14 of 21 passes for 174 yards with an interception and rushed 30 yards in five carries against Navy.
"He's getting more comfortable, more sure of himself," Carroll said.
Part of the plan
Allen Bradford is no longer the forgotten man.
The former Colton High star had shined annually during spring practice or training camp, and then watched as former teammates such as Chauncey Washington and current Trojans C.J. Gable, Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight handled most of the work.
Bradford was the second tailback in the game against San Jose State, and he made new play-caller Jeremy Bates look good when he scored on a career-long 43-yard run.
"It just happened slow, like it was a dream," Bradford said of his run. "I wanted to keep the ball, but I don't know what I did with it."
Center Kristofer O'Dowd (kneecap) and defensive tackle Averell Spicer (ankle) are expected to return this week. Carroll said he would not hesitate to put O'Dowd back into the lineup despite the fact that Barkley has worked almost exclusively with Jeff Byers at center since O'Dowd was injured in the Trojans' first training camp scrimmage. . . . After watching tape of the San Jose State game, Carroll praised linebacker Jarvis Jones, defensive end Devon Kennard and safety T.J. McDonald -- all freshmen -- along with defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo, a junior college transfer. "All the young guys are going to make errors, but they showed that they can hang and be productive," Carroll said.