Role reversal: Offense rescues Trojans from upset minded Beavers
The 42-36 USC victory over Oregon State is supposed to mark sweet revenge, but somehow you come out of it with a bitter taste in your mouth. Games are never about margin of victory, as long as your band is playing in the end. But there was something different about this one, and it’s likely because it was Oregon State.
The Beavers have no national ranking nor place in the BCS. They weren’t contending for a national championship or anywhere in the conversation. So when we speak of revenge on Oregon State for spoiling the Trojans title hopes a year ago, this victory isn’t nearly what it seems. OSU had nothing to lose, and likely walked away from this defeat receiving more national respect than they had coming in.
One day after the great escape, I’m reading different opinions on Saturday night’s contest, and often finding the words “looking past the Beavers to the big game with Oregon next week”. Not only is this unlikely, it also discredits Oregon State’s performance against arguably the most talented team in the country. You may look past the Beavers once, but I’m almost certain that you don’t overlook a team that snatched your hearts twice.
This isn’t a game to walk away with excuses, but more with concerns. We’ve experienced a role reversal in the past two weekends, where offensive fire power is nearly wasted by defensive collapse. In the early going, it was the defense that wore the cape and released the Trojans from the grips of defeat. But now, after seeing tremendous defensive efforts in the first halves of both the Notre Dame and Oregon State games, we’ve witnessed second half implosions.
Through the first five games of the season, the USC defense surrendered a combined total of just 20 second half points to opponents. That same unit has given up 47 points in the final thirty minutes of the past two ballgames. And just as the game in South Bend at one point appeared to be a rout before the Irish came storming back, Saturday’s game showed the same type of defensive buckling in OSU’s upset bid.
Oregon State’s 482 yards mark the first time the Trojans have been outgained by an opponent in 17 games. The last team to accomplish this was this same Oregon State team a year ago in Corvallis. Apparently, Mike Riley knows something the rest of college football is yet to figure out, and Pete Carroll must find a way to fix it. And outside of this weekend’s game, he must find a way to reverse the clock and bring back the stingy beasts that started the season.
Matt Barkley and the Trojans offense gave a tremendous performance to escape defeat. With the Beavers appearing unstoppable in the second half, it quickly became a game of “tit for tat” with USC having the final say. With the victory, not only was a star born in Allen Bradford, but piling up points against a respectable opponent also allowed Southern California to leap past undefeated Boise State and Cincinnati to No. 5 in the BCS standings.
The youth movement has displayed ups and downs, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier with a trip to Autzen Stadium looming against the rejuvenated Oregon Ducks. It’s the next stop in their quest for the crystal, and they better bring their “A” game with them.