Jinxed: The risks and rewards of beating USC
I had a conversation earlier this year with a group of SEC loyalists. It was about the Pac 10, and USC dominance therein. According to these southerners, the Pac would always be viewed as soft until someone other than USC claims the title.
Their opinions supported the “USC and the nine dwarfs” theory, regardless of how many times I pointed out that the Trojans shared the league title on several occasions during the seven year run. They insisted that a newcomer needed to appear on the throne, play in the Rose Bowl, or represent the conference in a BCS championship game, before any respect would be given.
Now as we approach week thirteen, with USC mathematically eliminated from at least a share of the conference championship and bounced from any possible BCS at-large bid, that certain group of SEC elitists have been granted their wish. The Pac 10 will have a new face to represent it in the BCS. And unlike years prior, the conference has been showered with praise and acknowledged for its balance and power. But when it comes to championship game appearances, there’s a certain jinx that has disallowed the trifecta.
USC is the only Pac 10 program to ever appear in BCS championship games, and they needed perfection to qualify for each. To duplicate the feat, a member of the conference would most likely need the same. But after reading a post by Ben Malcolmson at RipsIt this morning, and checking the figures on my own, programs that have reaped the rewards that come with a victory over USC usually face deflation thereafter, losing the next game on their schedules.
Stanford’s loss is the sixth time in the last seven such circumstances that a team has been defeated immediately after topping USC, and the Trojan hangover trend spans all of Coach Carroll’s nine years with the Trojans. Teams are now 4-12 in games immediately after a win over a Carroll-coached USC squad (not including the two programs that beat the Trojans in a bowl game, since their next contests happened nine months later).–RipsIt
Beat the Trojans and you are the talk of the town, king for a day. But history does show that celebrations are short-lived, along with hopes for further advancement. The last time a Pac 10 program other than USC played in a BCS bowl game and was in the national championship discussion was 2001. That was an Oregon team that finished 11-1 overall, capping the season with a Fiesta Bowl drubbing of Colorado.
Call it coincidence, a jinx, or programs deflated and susceptible to let down after conquering the greatest foe. But in a conference where questions often arise about the ability of nine to gain the same recognition as one. There are two answers for underachieving. They lose to USC.—And they also beat USC.