Game 10 rewind: Stanford embarrasses USC at home


The setup: After finishing off the last of their away games, the road-weary Trojans returned to the Coliseum in hopes of solidifying their standing in the Pac-10.

The story: Stanford made itself at home on USC’s Homecoming Day by running roughshod over the Trojans in a 55-21 blowout. The 34-point loss was the worst in the Coliseum in almost 43 years for USC.

Running it up · Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh decided to go for two with the game out of reach. - Tim Tran | Daily Trojan

Running it up · Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh decided to go for two with the game out of reach. - Tim Tran | Daily Trojan

“I’m not sure I have the right words to describe being humbled like this,” USC coach Pete Carroll said.

Stanford racked up 325 yards rushing, led by senior running back Toby Gerhart, who tallied 178 yards and three touchdowns. The Norco, Calif. product was only recruited as a fullback and linebacker by USC coaches, who believed he would not be able to be a running back in the Pac-10.

But Gerhart ran through the heart of the Trojan defense all day behind Stanford’s gritty offensive line. The Cardinal repeatedly utilized the power play, as coaches and players called it, to get Gerhart moving downhill.

Stanford’s offensive success was all the more startling given that it offered few surprises.

“They ran the same plays we thought they were going to run,” senior safety Taylor Mays said.

Saturday’s outcome was the latest in a frustrating series for USC’s maligned defense.

Last week’s performance against Arizona State gave the Trojans reason for confidence, but Carroll said that he did not think his team had solved its glaring errors.

“We’ve just fallen apart here and given our opponents the chance to do whatever they want,” he said.

Barkley’s struggles: True freshman quarterback Matt Barkley threw a career-high three interceptions and fumbled once against the Cardinal.

With redshirt junior wide receiver Damian Williams sidelined by ankle injury, Barkley finished with less than 200 passing yards for the third straight game.

The recent woes perplexed the signal-caller, who said he would have to look at film to determine the source of his struggles.

“I don’t feel flustered,” Barkley said. “We’ve had some bad breaks. When we’re turning the ball over like this, it’s tough to bounce back.”

Barkley’s most costly mistake came when a pass intended for redshirt freshman wide receiver Brice Butler was intercepted by Stanford senior cornerback Richard Sherman, who then streaked 43 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. The score gave Stanford a decisive 42-21 lead with less than 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

“He looked like a kid,” Sherman said. “He’s a great quarterback and he’s going to make great plays, but everybody has to grow.”

The call: Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh surprised many with a fourth-quarter decision to attempt a two-point conversion with the game well in hand after Gerhart’s third touchdown put the Cardinal up 48-21. Gerhart was stopped short of the goal line, but Harbaugh’s move still drew plenty of questions following the game.

“I think he was trying to go for 50,” Gerhart said with a smile.

Carroll said he was not offended by the decision and did not address it in the postgame handshake.

“In that situation, they can do whatever they want,” Carroll said. “Sometimes those decisions are for attitude and your own team, so you do what you have to do.”

The decision did grate on some USC players, however.

“It was kind of disrespectful,” junior linebacker Malcolm Smith said. “It was definitely a punch in the face.”

Insult to injury: Mays’ postgame press conference was drowned out by the sounds of Stanford players hollering and knocking against their lockers, rattling the wall.

“They deserve to have that feeling,” Mays said.

  • Alex

    Oh man, that was great. Carroll deserved every bit of that beat down. He’s been running up scores on people for years. I hope every team out there with a double digit second half lead on USC from now on always goes for two, always goes for the TD, and beats them by 35! Best game ever.

  • Greg

    Totally agree with Marc on how pete carroll is pushing Aaron Corp off the ship just because of that performance during the Washington game. He shouldn’t base his opinion on Corp’s performance based on that one game. It could have been a bad hair day for Corp that day.

    pete carroll really has an ego problem. This is why he has A LOT of turnovers when it comes to his assistant coaches.

    It first started off with Norm Chow being pushed off the boat. pete carroll hated the fact that the media was giving all the credit to Norm Chow for the excellence he brought to SC for working hand in hand with Carson Palmer and building accuracy with Troy Polamalu back in the 2003 year.

    After he left, Orgeron and Lane Kiffin ditched pete carroll.

    So much for his arrogance. Then most recently, Steve Sarkisian and Nick Holt left/darted from USC. Again, probably because carroll has his head up his a$$.

  • Johnny

    The 2-point conversion was classless? Oh puleez! I have seen coach pete carroll run up the score on many teams, and even when USC was up by 20 points, such as the Washington State game, the trojans did a nasty on-side kick. WTF? USC up by 20 points against an underdog Washington State team and the trojans try to recover their own ball? I also recall pete carroll doing this sh-t to Hawaii back in Sept 2003 at the Coliseum. SC was up by 30 points over Hawaii and Carroll decided to do a nasty onside kick. I heavily remember this as coach June Jones (now at SMU) was totally infuriated at pete carroll. Ahahaha. Now pete carroll knows how it feels to be at the other end of the yard stick. In the past, he used to dish out pain and suffering. Now this year, Oregon has spanked USC. Then Stanford spanked and ripped apart a once-good USC football team. I hate to say this, but it USC’s defense doesn’t step on the gas pedal, I’m sure UCLA will give you a long long day next weekend.

  • Paul

    The 2 point conversion was in retaliation for usc’s running up the score last year at Stanford.

  • Marc

    Couple years from now folks will look back at Carroll’s shabby treatment of Aaron Corp as the beginning of the end of his dynasty. What was supposed to be an environment built around competition has been exposed as little more than Pete’s pet project, based more on his rather strange infatuation with Barkley. Meanwhile, the loss of valuable assistants has crippled the program, especially on defense. So Troy burns while Pete works on his golden boy. And, by the way, I say this as a huge fan and alumnus.

    Finally, has anybody been a bigger flop than Taylor Mays? Way to go big guy, you cost yourself millions with this year’s rather pedestrian performance and failed to step up as a leader. Pathetic!

  • Greg Katz

    The two point conversion attempt by Stanford, uh er, should I say Harbaugh was un-called for. Ya’ll do understand that it was not an attempt to run up the score, but an “attempt” to kick a good man while he’s down. That is Harbaugh’s id, his MO, his high school bully personality. He has always been a spoiled brat and a bully; even in his NFL days. Heck, he and Jimmy Clausen are more suited for each other than Luck or Gerhart.

    Harbaugh hates Pete Carroll’s success at USC, and he knows that he cannot compete with Carroll, in the long run. All the mouthing off Harbaugh has done during his tenure at Stanford is just a smokescreen for him to try to beat up PC, and build up his image and future NFL coaching career. There was absolutely no reason for Harbaugh to call the 2 pointer, other than to kick Pete C. in the teeth while he was down. Yes, it was not a football call, but another one of Harbaugh’s personal vendetta calls… And when SC’s Defense stopped the 2 point conversion, they sent a message to Harbaugh that he can’t bully us at will. SC fought back and kicked him in the teeth on national TV. Unfortunately, ESPN won’t show that highlight and make good press of it. …

    This action among many, my friends, does not make for a sense of style and class, that is Pete Carroll. And Harbaugh will never be able to match all that Pete Carroll is and stands for, because Harbaugh is a self-centered bully in the worst sense of the word.

    And in the words of my mother-in-law….There’s two kinds of class.
    Class, which is Pete Carroll, and
    clASS, which is Harbaugh.

    Sta Fight On 13 my friends.
    Beat the Bruins.

    • Doug Smith

      Greg Katz…Do you really believe that work of fiction you put out there? Pete Carroll is class? I’m not saying he is a bad guy, but you must have some issue to elevate Pete Carroll to such heights…or low expectations.

      Outside of Trojan town, everyone one is loving Harbaugh’s decision to go for two. USC has certainly run up some scores in recent years and haven’t pulled any punches in lopsided games. And what are you talking about that SC’s defense sent a message by stopping the 2 point conversion? They let in another touchdown after that! Maybe their message should have been to not let Stanford get 55 points.

  • This year must be hard for Mays.