Game 8 rewind: Trojans never expected this one

The story: It was the worst loss of the Pete Carroll era and likely marked the end of USC’s run of Pac-10 titles, as the Trojans were dismantled by the resurgent Oregon Ducks 47-20, before a record and raucous Autzen Stadium crowd.

Led by redshirt freshman running back LaMichael James, who rushed a career-high 183 yards, No. 10 Oregon (7-1, 5-0 Pac-10) rushed for 391 yards and averaged 8 yards per carry, wearing down a USC defense that had shown cracks against Notre Dame and Oregon State.

Dieuwertje Kast | Daily Trojan

Dieuwertje Kast | Daily Trojan

“This was a real mess for us tonight,” Carroll said after the game. “Oregon did everything they wanted to do.”

Punting only once all night, the Ducks were nine for nine in the red zone and scored on five consecutive drives in the second half to blow the game open.

The 47 points surrendered were the most since a 1996 double-overtime loss to UCLA, and All-American senior safety Taylor Mays said he never saw it coming.

“No, never,” Mays said. “Not with the talent that we have, not with the coaches that we have, not with how hard we practice and the potential that we have as a team. And that’s why this loss hurt.”

The then-No. 5 Trojans (6-2, 3-2) hung tough for a half, largely on the strength of redshirt junior receiver Damian Williams’ seven catches for 70 yards and a touchdown. Williams, who was limited by a bruised gluteus muscle all week and appeared to struggle with the injury in the second half, finished with nine receptions and 82 yards.

Junior running back Joe McKnight chipped in with 95 yards on 15 carries, but USC managed just 327 yards and committed six false start penalties.

Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley went 21 of 38 for 187 yards, scored two touchdowns and was intercepted on the last play of the game.

Most valuable player: Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli turned in a masterful performance, throwing for 222 yards and a touchdown and rushing for another 164 yards and a score.

“The runs he popped, whether they were scrambles or by design, just broke our back,” Carroll said.

Play of the game: After a 39-yard Jordan Congdon field goal cut the lead to 27-20, Oregon responded with a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that began with Masoli’s 26-yard scramble through gaping holes in the USC defense. James capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown run and the rout was on.

By the numbers: The 27-point margin of defeat marked only the second time Carroll has lost by double digits at USC. In 2001, Notre Dame downed the Trojans 27-16.

Oregon rolled up 613 yards of total offense, the second-most ever allowed by USC. Only Notre Dame in 1946 topped that total.

USC came into the game leading the nation in sacks per game. They did not sack Masoli.

Finishing the job: In 2007, Oregon handed USC its second conference loss and was well on its way to winning the Pac-10 before quarterback Dennis Dixon injured his knee and the Ducks fell apart down the stretch.

In 2009, the Trojans will need similar circumstances to claim its eighth straight conference title. Oregon now has a two-game lead in the standings, and with the head-to-head tiebreaker, would need to lose three times for USC to claim the automatic Rose Bowl berth.

3 replies
  1. ethan
    ethan says:

    Sad you see us lose but certainly expected. I posted after the Washington loss why USC will be on a seven year Las Vegas Bowl run. Here are three reasons:

    1) The laid back, lack of focus, no intensity training of the USC football team. When other conferences and teams make adjustments and beef up their training and practice, why should USC do the same? The other teams have obviously adapted enough to beat USC’s conservative and redundant play calling.

    2) Why watch your opponents’ game footage and compare each team’s off the line speed??? If you compare side by side, the speed of each team, you will see the lightning speed of other teams versus the molasses quickness of USC’s runningbacks and overall team speed. If USC keeps this up, you might as well send all the upcoming seniors to the senior citizen’s home – they move just as fast.

    3) False sense of superiority.
    Please do not read or listen to the media about USC’s dominance because it just isn’t there. The hype is just that – all hype. It is one thing to give your players encouragement, but to give them a false sense of encouragement leads to disappointment and a losing season. Be realistic. Tell it like it is so they can work harder, faster and stronger. Without this, USC is looking at a 7 year Las Vegas Bowl run.

    Did the coaching staff decide not to watch the Oreson Washington game the week prior? Did they really believe after the loss to Washington that the team was in an any type of bowl contention? Keep the training a few levels below the the top ten and we should see more games like the Oregon blowout. Hats off to Chip Kelly, his coaching staff, and the players. This season belongs to them.

  2. DK
    DK says:

    Hmmm…I think it’s telling that the players were shocked and in disbelief. I don’t know why they would have been shocked — many of their fans have been very nervous about this team for some time. I know my friends and I were upset about the outcome but none of us was “shocked.” Not even close.

    Obviously, our players thought they were playing better than they actually were, and I can’t imagine why. Maybe they were watching different game tape?

    In that respect, maybe it was time for us to be humbled, as much as it hurts. Going into any game thinking “it can’t happen to us” is a recipe for disaster. Confidence and talent and potential are great, but they are no substitute for hard work and perspiration and a sense of urgency.

    We had it coming, but we’ll get it together I’m sure.

  3. JS
    JS says:

    Anyone who watched the very narrow escape at ND, or sat in the Coliseum to watch them escape against OSU had to see this coming. Not much to say really. Carroll has to actually do a lot of coaching just to keep them from another loss. The players will probably stop the dancing after routine plays and the high fiving, and acting as if they’re world beaters…..but then again, probably not. Whatever Big 10 team awaits will get drilled by Oregon, as always happens. Some things never change at the Rose Bowl.

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