Friday, September 26, 2008

Beavers' Upset of Trojans and the Implications

Unless you live under a rock I am sure all college football fans are aware of the stunning upset the Oregon State Beavers orchestrated against the USC Trojans. Against the No. 1 team in the land, the Beavers of Corvallis, Or., unseated Pete Carroll's crew 27-21. Behind the obvious thrilling game that took place Thursday night, what really did USC's loss signify?

Looking back their are several main areas this loss touches on. For one, Oregon State needs to get the credit they deserve for having pulled off two straight wins against USC in Corvallis. OSU did not get any lucky breaks or use trick plays, they simply manhandled the Trojans. Head coach Mike Riley seems to have Carroll's number. I know, I can not understand it either, but Riley always gets his troops ready for battle when the Trojans come to town.

My second point rests with big deficits USC throws themselves into. Point 1: In 2006 the Trojans trailed the Beavers 33-10 before losing 33-31 after missing a two point conversion. Last night USC trailed 21-0 at one point. Basically the Trojans do not just put themselves in a hole, they nearly dig a canyon. Had USC not played so lousy in 2006 and 2008 to where the deficits were difficult for any team to come back from, then maybe the team could of rallied for a win. But the fact remains, no matter who you are, coming back from 20+ points is pretty difficult. Especially in an environment such as Corvallis.

Thirdly I would like to discuss the unbelievable performance by 5'6'', 180 pound, freshman running back Jacquizz Rodgers. On 37 carries Rodgers had an astounding 186 yards and 2 touchdowns. Oregon State's successes would never had happened had this virtually unknown athlete ripped through the Trojan defensive line time and time again. But, after Rodgers's performance there was one thing I could not stop thinking about? Beanie Wells. Seeing such a small running back do so much damage to the USC defensive line definitely makes us all wonder how Beanie Wells would of done against USC. In fact, it almost puts a big asterisks next to the Trojans' 35-3 win. Then again maybe USC just had an abnormally bad game Thursday night.

Let me say this. A lot of people in the country, more so than ever, really want to see a USC/Ohio State rematch in the Rose Bowl. Bottom line: people want to see what Beanie can do against this Trojan defensive line.

My fourth point: leadership. USC has all the talent in the world. No question about it; Carroll knows how to recruit and put a team together. Yet with all the talent in the world, USC still lost? Why? Like so many others have stated, "USC did not have the leadership it needed at the end of the game." Mark Sanchez could end up being a terrific QB, but last night he did not have it all. He was not able to drive down his team for the tying touchdown when trailing by seven in the fourth. That in itself is nothing short of huge.

In 2007 the LSU Tigers found ways to win. They had players who made plays and made victories happen. It does not seem USC has that yet. Sure, Joe McKnight is one of the most dynamic players in the nation, but he was gone yesterday. He was simply lost in a different world bobbling punt returns and getting tackled for huge losses. This leadership flaw was certainly seen by all.

So overall this victory is significant because it shows a) USC is not an invincible as we were lead to believe, b) USC is in a state of flux. The Pac-10 has one team in the Top 25 (USC), and they just lost to a Beaver team with a losing record. How strong is that conference? And finally, c) USC already has one loss and we have not even finished September yet. Could more be coming?

Before I sign off let me recognize the Unsung Hero of last night's game. Of course Rodgers was the star, but the guy who really made an impact was Johnny Hekker the punter. Three times Hekker pinned the Trojans inside the 20, twice he pinned them inside their ten. Listen I do not care how good of a quarterback you are, to be trailing by seven on the road, 95 yards aways is nothing you could characterize as "simple."

One final note: I must acknowledge that indeed my friend Corey called this upset. Yes, I too was shocked when I heard him make this statement. Very well, Corey you were right I was wrong.

Reap the benefits.

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