1More fundamental football, fewer gadget plays by Penn State. The Nittany Lions' game plan usually calls for a bit of trickery - reverses, double-reverses, flanker option passes - but even if you get USC to initially bite on that sort of thing, the Trojans have athletes with the sort of speed to recover quickly and blow the play up.

2Sacks will be at a premium. USC quarterback Mark Sanchez isn't likely to take off running, by design or otherwise, but he's mobile enough to buy time by stepping up or back in the pocket, or side to side.

3Special teams could prove especially important. All other things being equal, a big special-teams play - a long return, a blocked field goal, a punt being downed inside the 5-yard line - can shift momentum in a hurry.


The forecast for Pasadena on Thursday is sunny with a high of 72 degrees.