USC wins Emerald and loses star to NFL

USC is the all-time leader in bowl victories. Saturday’s 24-13 win over Boston College  in rain soaked AT&T Park marks the 32nd bowl triumph for the men of Troy. Alabama has an opportunity to tie the total with a victory in the National Championship game. But even a victorious Crimson tide will be no match for Southern California and its all-time best bowl winning percentage.

Winning is the expectation at USC. And for some, 2009 didn’t provide enough victories to satisfy the craving for success. The Trojans finish the season 9-4, showing up to play in a late December bowl game with nothing more than honor and tradition at stake. They played for the seniors, sending them off with a positive memory of their final year. And they played for draft eligible players pondering NFL decisions that may never make that tunnel walk again. Williams was a foregone conclusion, NFL bound with nothing left to prove at USC. Everson Griffen will be joining him, as reports came just minutes after the conclusion of the game that he will also make the NFL leap.

The Emerald Bowl was a reenactment of the season as a whole, only compressed into sixty minutes of football. Even without the services of Joe Mcknight, Anthony McCoy, Tyron Smith, and Josh Pinkard, the Trojans displayed a depth of talent and the effectiveness that comes when you work as a unit. Moving the ball with ease for two quick first half scores by Stanley Havili, and supported by a defensive clamp that limited Boston College movement, this contest took on an early appearance of a drubbing in progress. This was reminiscent of 2009 Trojans in the early portion of the season, when they were a top-5 program. But before we were able to plan victory celebrations or send texts of greatness to friends, the late season unranked AP Trojans surfaced to place our hearts back in our throats.

When Matt Barkley was intercepted on what would have been the third scoring drive of the first half, the tables had turned. The fast start Trojans wouldn’t score again before intermission, and the Eagles’ Montel Harris went to work. Just as Toby Gerhart and LaMichael James shredded through the USC defensive line weeks earlier, James ripped off chunks, finally settling in the end zone. The scoreboard went from a paddling to a narrow 14-13 USC lead after thirty minutes.

Barkley began the second half by throwing another interception, his thirteenth of the season. But the Trojan defense came up big, recovering a Harris fumble deep in their own territory. Boston College would never challenge again, shutout offensively in the final two periods, while USC regained their groove to add another 10 points to seal it.

Pete Carroll coached teams are now 7-2 in bowl games, winning their fourth straight. This was the first non BCS bowl game played by USC since 2001, Carroll’s inaugural season with the program.

[Scott Wolf]


~ by Anthony on December 26, 2009.

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