Game 11 wrap-up: The rise of Troy
USC was dealt disrespect for the majority of this college football season. It began with a 4-0 start that was deemed unimpressive by gurus, because the margin of victory wasn’t to their liking. They would enter the eighth week with a single loss, but achievements remained soft, as critiquing eyes fixed on opponents, instead of properly focusing on the team in question.
The underdog would deliver a bite in South Bend, which would lead to postgame commentary addressing the needs of the loser, with little mention of the victor’s possessions. It was another generic rambling penned from season’s past, with the origin rooted in sanctions that would draw a pauper from the longtime king.
USC would fall just one position in the AP poll, after a triple-overtime loss to Andrew Luck and the Cardinal. It was originally perceived as respect and recognition, but two weeks and two victories later, we would see that the generosity of pollsters better served Stanford.
Ballots weren’t cast to reflect improvement in the USC football team, as much as they were used to justify the Cardinal as great and still worthy of maintaining its elite company in the upper tier of the ranks. The Trojans would follow-up the Stanford loss with two convincing victories, yet would rise no higher than No. 18, marking the lowest AP placement for an 8-2 team in the program’s history.
The stage was set for a prime time match-up in Eugene. It was great versus good, speed versus not as fast, and the team of the moment versus the has-beens of yesterday. It was a book hot off the press, with the preface composed by Vegas oddsmakers and network know-it-alls. But with the characters sketched, and lights turned on, it was the two-touchdown underdog that would refuse to cooperate and flip the script.
The NCAA can ban USC from the postseason, but it cannot stop the Trojans from affecting it. Lane Kiffin took his No. 18 ranking on the road, where he battled the elements, hostile crowd, media hype, and the No. 4 Ducks. He would leave with a 38-35 victory, bringing an end to the nation’s longest home-win streak, the conference’s longest active win-streak, and Oregon’s BCS dream.
The final score is not indicative of the dominance displayed by a team that moved the ball at will, while also limiting the nation’s third-most prolific scoring offense to just 7 first half points, and the nation’s leading rusher to only 78 yards for the game. The Trojans played faster, more physical and more determined, manhandling their opponent for three quarters before fatigue began to set in.
Postgame headlines would contain the words “stunned” or “shocked”, and present messages that “USC is back”. But it’s a program that never left, simply slipping into a stage of regroup, restock, and reengage. It was a sleeping giant slowly awakening from slumber. And with LeBron James and other Nike heads in attendance on Saturday, we were all witnesses to the rise of Troy.
“Respect commands itself and it can neither be given nor withheld when it’s due”–Eldridge Cleaver
Song of the Day
Mama said knock you out—”Don’t call it a comeback. I’ve been here for years”–Cool J
- USC rose to No. 10 in the Associated Press poll this week. Oregon fell to No. 9
- WR Marqise Lee was named Pac 12 offensive player of the week for his 8 reception, 187 yard performance against Oregon. Linebacker Hayes Pullard was named the conference’s defensive player of the week.
- Oregon’s LaMichael James was held to an average of less than 4 yards per carry for only the second time this season. The previous occurred in the Ducks loss to LSU.
- Oregon’s 38-14 third quarter deficit was the largest faced since losing 44-10 to USC in October 2008.
- Chip Kelly suffered his first loss as a head coach at Autzen Stadium.
- USC was the first team to defeat Chip Kelly’s Ducks with only one week to prepare.
- Matt Barkley completed 75 percent of his passes, finishing with 323 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception. With a passer rating of 189.1, it was the second-best performance of the season, with only the outing against Arizona being greater. This came on the heels of fiery pregame comments, where the quarterback stated his belief that the Oregon defense wasn’t as good as in year’s past, which was said to be bulletin board material for the Ducks as they entered this game.