Viscarra’s Vice: Close wins are not a concern for Trojans

first_imgAnytime you can come by making a dollar bill, that’s a good thing. Regardless of the physical condition of the buck, you’re happy to put it in your wallet — even if it’s a bit crinkled or torn around the edges. A $100 bill fresh off the printing press is just as effective as one that’s been balled into a wad for weeks.That’s the way that USC fans should be feeling about the Trojans’ start to the 2017 regular season. Despite being undefeated a third of the way through the season, USC just hasn’t racked up as many style points in its victories as the Trojan faithful would have hoped or expected.With a gritty road victory over unranked Cal (3-1) this past weekend, No. 5 USC improved to 4-0 overall this season. Four consecutive wins to open the campaign is USC’s best start to a regular season since 2010. The win Saturday also extended USC’s current winning streak to 13 games (dating back to last season); the team hasn’t lost a game in over a calendar year.However, there still seems to be plenty of uneasiness among fans and followers of this USC program — despite its being undefeated and ranked in the top five nationally.The reason for concern is rational. Three of USC’s four wins on the season have required the Trojans to make substantial pushes in the second half to come away with victories. In the case of USC’s Week 3 win over Texas, it took two overtime periods for the Trojans to come away victorious against Tom Herman’s unranked Texas team. USC’s 18-point victory over Western Michigan was deceiving, as the Trojans had to rely on a 28-point fourth quarter after being tied with the Broncos through three quarters of the game.That’s the cause for concern. That’s what has the Trojan loyalists squirming in their chairs with still eight games remaining this season — and no bye weeks separating them. USC’s failure to pile on style points in contests against “lesser” opponents has struck a subtle fear in its followers.This imminent anxiety will spike this week as the Trojans prepare to do battle with No. 16 Washington State (4-0, 1-0 in Pac-12) in Pullman, Wash., on Friday night.Prior to the season, if any bystander would have looked at USC’s first four regular season match-ups, they would have likely assessed the Trojans’ Week 2 matchup with Stanford as the toughest early-season test.However, the Trojans put their most dominant performance on display against the Cardinal in unexpected fashion. USC has instead engaged in its toughest slugfests against unranked opponents — Western Michigan, Texas and, most recently, Cal.But is this such a bad thing? Is there something positive to be said about USC learning to be comfortable in the uncomfortable games against scrappy teams? It’s certainly nothing to be proud of if you are playing down to the level of lesser opponents, which is the assessment many have made of USC thus far. But there has to be some silver lining about this team constantly finding itself in hard-fought contests.There’s definitely merit when looking at a team that can run through its regular season and rout every opponent on its way to a College Football Playoff berth. But shouldn’t there also be a great deal of applause for the program that can navigate successfully through 12 contests, and come away with heroics on multiple occasions?The latter scenario is favorable because that team has passed through a wringer of adversity en route to the postseason. No matter what success you reap in the regular season, adversity will always strike you hard in the postseason. It’s a law. It’s a matter of how a team responds to said adversity that determines its ultimate success.Legendary heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the mouth.” Through the early stages of 2017, USC has certainly caught several uppercuts on the chin from unsuspecting challengers. But on each occasion, the Trojans have found ways to masterfully counter-punch and maintain their perfect record.So, as the fifth-ranked Trojans take the trip up to Pullman this Friday to square off with Washington State, many are anxious about what could be awaiting USC. This contest with the Cougars has been heralded “USC’s most dangerous game of the season,” and it very well may be. However, the Trojans’ resiliency this season gives me assurance that they can enter enemy territory and come away with a win.Let’s just say Washington State senior quarterback Luke Falk drives the Cougars down the field for a score on the opening drive of the game — and USC finds itself trailing 7-0 early on the road.No big deal. Just another punch on the chin.This Trojan team has lived for the counter-punch so far this season. The team’s national championship aspirations do not depend on weekly style points in victories. Their fulfillment completely depends on going 1-0 against every opponent, every week, pretty or not.Angel Viscarra is a junior studying broadcast and digital journalism. His column, “Viscarra’s Vice,” runs Tuesdays.last_img read more