Syracuse quarterback Ryan Nassib drops back to pass against Rhode Island… (Richard Mackson / US Presswire )
East meets West in the first game of a two-game series that was made when Daryl Gross, a former senior associate athletic director at USC, left to become Syracuse's athletic director after the 2004 season. Staff writer Gary Klein examines the game's issues and matchups:
For the first time in three games, USC faces a quarterback unburdened by inexperience or post-surgery issues.
Syracuse senior Ryan Nassib has completed 75% of his passes for six touchdowns with one interception.
Nassib completed 29 of 37 passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns in last week's 21-14 victory over Rhode Island. The 29 completions were a Syracuse record.
Nassib has been particularly effective in the second half, completing all five of his passes during the Orange's winning drive against Rhode Island and all but five of 32 second-half passes this season.
USC's Matt Barkley, who has completed 70% of his passes, has thrown for four touchdowns with one interception.
However, the Trojans have scored only one second-half touchdown.
"Our ultimate goal is to win the game," Barkley said. "At the same time, I'm not pleased with the numbers that we've put up as an offense. At times I have been, but we can't just let that be the standard. We have to keep raising that bar because we can do so much more."
On the run
USC tailback Marc Tyler, despite suffering thigh bruises in each leg while carrying 24 times against Utah, is expected to make his first 2011 start.
The senior, USC's leading rusher last season, ran for 113 yards and a touchdown in his season debut against Utah.
Syracuse has given up 96 yards rushing a game.
Syracuse running back Antwon Bailey, after rushing for 114 yards and two touchdowns against Wake Forest, ran for 43 yards against Rhode Island.
Syracuse defensive end Mikhail Marinovich is the son of former USC offensive lineman Marv Marinovich and brother of former Trojans quarterback Todd Marinovich.
Todd Marinovich passed for 337 yards and three touchdowns in the Trojans' 34-16 victory over Syracuse at East Rutherford, N.J., in 1990.
Mikhail Marinovich, one of eight Californians on the Syracuse roster, has made eight tackles.
USC has started a few true freshmen on the offensive line in the last decade, but Marcus Martin could become the first to start at guard this early in the season.
In 2004, then-freshman Jeff Byers started at guard in the ninth game.
Martin, a former Crenshaw High standout, worked with the first-string offense all week, putting him on track to become the third player in three games to start at left guard for the Trojans.
Jeremy Galten started the opener against Minnesota and Martin Coleman last week against Utah before suffering a shoulder injury.
USC is more than a two-touchdown favorite over the Orange, which has not defeated a Pacific 12 Conference team on the road since a victory over UCLA at the Coliseum in 1967.
In the aftermath of USC's controversial last-second touchdown against Utah, and the tumult it caused at Nevada sports books, bettors will no doubt rush to the windows for their payout at game's end.
Syracuse Coach Doug Marrone and USC defensive line coach Ed Orgeron worked together on the New Orleans Saints' staff in 2008. Orgeron coached at Syracuse in 1995-1997.… Syracuse offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett is the son of Paul Hackett, USC's head coach in 1998-2000 and a Trojans assistant in 1976-80…. Former USC receiver Lynn Swann will participate in the Reagan Centennial National Football Coin Toss, part of a yearlong tribute to honor the 40th president of the United States.
USC; Category; SYRACUSE
21.0; scoring offense; 28.5
15.5; scoring defense; 21.5
284.0; pass offense; 248.0
109.5; rush offense; 78.5
393.5; total offense; 326.5
215.0; pass defense; 240.0
95.5; rush defense; 96.0