These days, nobody is immune from curses.
There’s the Curse of the Bambino, which affected the Boston Red Sox for 86 years. Then there’s the Unforgivable Curses, which did not come from Harry Potter but actually that YouTube guy who just wanted a chicken sandwich and some waffle fries. Anybody in theater knows about the Curse of Macbeth, which has recently been changed to the Curse of McNabb since anybody who gives Donovan McNabb money must exit the stadium and punch themselves in the face three times before seeking permission to re-enter.
The USC Trojans are also suffering from a curse — the Curse of Corvallis.
For some reason, USC has had trouble winning at Oregon State, located in Corvallis, Ore. The Trojans have lost two in a row in the city that won the 2003 Sidewalk Award from the da Vinci Days Community and Design Committee.
But Saturday’s game presents the best opportunity for the Trojans to dash past the Beavers and break the curse.
Yes, the Trojans are ranked higher than the Beavers and are favored coming into this game. But that’s not why this year gives them the best chance to win. In fact, in the previous two losses USC had better odds of winning than those of Tony Parker and Eva Longoria breaking up. Both losses cost the Trojans shots at the national title. The 27-21 upset in 2008 came when USC was ranked No. 1 in the country, and the 33-31 loss two years prior came when the Trojans were ranked No. 3. Oregon State was unranked both times.
So, what happens in Corvallis?
“I couldn’t tell you,” senior center Kristofer O’Dowd said. “It’s kind of eerie because I haven’t won there yet in my career here. But we’re switching things up a little bit. I know we’re staying at a different hotel, so I think that might be the reason. I think they’re poisoning the water or something like that.”
It’s not like Oregon State has been untouchable at home, although the Beavers have been pretty good. In 2006, two of its four losses came at home. Since then, it has lost six home games over the last four years.
It’s just that USC has taken up camp at the bottom of Crater Lake. The Trojans haven’t won in the state of Oregon since 2005 and have lost eight of their last 11 games played in Oregon dating back to 1998. Part of the reason USC won the national title in 2003 was because it didn’t have a game in Oregon that year (in the interest of full disclosure, it did play in Oregon in 2004 and 2005 and won, though it eked out a 28-20 win in 2004 after going down 13-0 to the Beavers).
There are a couple things that set this year up so nicely for the Trojans to eradicate the angry Beavers. First, Oregon State is coming off of a humiliating loss to Washington State at home. Nobody loses to Washington State. Even Sarah Palin could beat Washington State.
So the Cougars, who got their first Pac-10 win since 2008, showed that there’s no magic to beating the Beavers in Corvallis. If that’s not the ultimate confidence booster for the Trojans, then they can take solace in this: UCLA beat the Beavers the week prior to Washington State’s first victory since the Great Depression.
For those of you who haven’t been following the Bruins this year — which I assume is a large majority because there really is no reason to — they are on about their sixth quarterback, although to their credit they do have a solid field goal kicker who’s made 10-of-13 field goals from 50-plus yards, including the game-winner to defeat the Beavers.
That’s all without mentioning that the Beavers are without half of their gin and tonic. They still got the gin, the smooth, silky, effective running back Jacquizz Rodgers, but the tonic, Rodgers’ big brother James — the Beavers’ primary receiving threat who neutralized defenses and kept them from focusing on Jacquizz — is out for the year after he injured his left knee against Arizona in early October.
However, that all focuses on other teams. Although this Trojan team is not as strong as the ones that visited Corvallis in 2008 and 2006, it nonetheless has the weapons to defeat the Beavers. Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley is tied for fourth in the nation with 25 touchdown passes, and redshirt junior running back Marc Tyler ran 31 times for 160 yards in last week’s win against then-No. 18 Arizona. The defense is finally coming into its own, especially the front seven, and freshman receiver Robert Woods looks to be cured after falling ill a few weeks ago.
Word on the street was that he was healed by a voodoo witch doctor from the middle of the Amazon Rainforest.
Yup, the time is right for the Trojans to go up to Corvallis and break the curse – once and for all.
“Spittin’ Sports” runs every Thursday. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or e-mail Kenny at firstname.lastname@example.org.