First look: Syracuse

Forget the opponents Syracuse played these last two weeks and struggled to beat, Wake Forest and Rhode Island.

Lane Kiffin says it doesn't matter who the Orange played. They're 2-0 and they're looking to make themselves 3-0 in four days' time against the Trojans.

"The comparing of games and scores, it means nothing," Kiffin said this week, when asked what he'd seen from Syracuse in the first two weeks of 2011. "I can't say I've never done it, because I do it too. You look at this team played that team but every week that gets proven completely wrong.

"Those things happen all the time. And, from being here over the years, we get everybody's best shot anyway. Teams tend to not necessarily play great the week before us and usually do not play very well the week after us. Look what just happened to Minnesota. That has been historic here, guys not playing well the week after us. Because they get up for SC and playing in the Coliseum."

He didn't say it outright, but it's clear he expects Syracuse to be up for this game. And his Trojans, too, obviously. And while USC hasn't blown out either of its first two opponents at the Coliseum this year, it hasn't been because of a lack of energy. This team has actually looked pretty ready to go for each of its two games, which is partly a credit to the coaching staff.

"We don't take anybody lightly," Kiffin said. "We respect everyone. And we really shouldn't be taking anybody lightly, anyway. We're 2-0 and happened to win the games right at the end."

So did Syracuse. The Orange trailed Wake Forest by 15 points entering the fourth quarter of their opener and needed overtime to pull out the win, then began the final period tied with Rhode Island.

In each of those games Syracuse coach Doug Marrone relied on the experienced arm of junior quarterback Ryan Nassib, who's done very well thus far, producing big numbers while running back Antwon Bailey has taken some time to adjust to starter's carries in the backfield.

"They have thrown the ball pretty well this year so far," Kiffin said. "They've kind of relied on the quarterback as far as the first two games, and he's played well. I don't care who you're playing, if you complete 75 percent of your passes with six touchdowns and one interception, your passing game's doing extremely well.

"This will probably be similar to last week with a quarterback coming in who has played well in the past."

One difference between Nassib and Utah quarterback Jordan Wynn: Nassib's fully healthy. Another difference: Nassib has two top-notch targets in senior receivers Van Chew and Alec Lemon.