Trojans suffer worst loss in 12 years

LaMichael James burst through the Trojans’ defensive line for 10 yards and another first down. Only this time, he fumbled as he was tackled to the ground and USC safety Will Harris recovered the ball, returning it 66 yards for a touchdown.

At least, that’s what it looked like. After reviewing the play, officials overturned the fumble, ruling that James’ knee was down before he lost control of the ball.

Daily Trojan | Dieuwertje Kast

Daily Trojan | Dieuwertje Kast

It was that kind of night for the No. 4-ranked Trojans, who suffered their worst loss since a 27-0 shutout against Washington in 1997. James ran for 184 yards and one touchdown and quarterback Jeremiah Masoli piled on 386 yards of total offense as the Ducks rolled to a 47-20 triumph over USC (6-2, 3-2 Pacific-10).

Oregon fans, clad in black and dark green, rushed the field after the final whistle sounded on the Trojans’ second loss at Autzen Stadium in three years. The Ducks (7-1, 5-0) had previously defeated USC 24-17 in 2007.

“We just got beat up up front,” USC safety Taylor Mays said. “We didn’t tackle well, and they busted us. They hit us in the mouth, and they kept hitting us in the mouth.”

For the third straight year, the Trojans watched their national title hopes melt away in the Oregon rain. Last season, they fell to Oregon State, 11 months after their previous ill-fated visit to Eugene.

But neither of those games was decided by more than a touchdown. In fact, the Trojans had not lost by more than seven points since a 27-16 loss to Notre Dame in 2001.

This proved to be a much more lopsided defeat, as Oregon’s 47 points were the most allowed by any USC squad since UCLA scored 58 in 1996. The Ducks’ 613 yards on offense — 391 of those came on the ground — were second only to the 623 Notre Dame racked up against the Trojans in 1946.

“We’ve never been in something like that,” said USC coach Pete Carroll. “They did everything they wanted to do. It was really pretty easy for them.”

This latest loss puts the Trojans’ streaks of seven consecutive Pac-10 titles and seven straight BCS appearances in serious jeopardy. Meanwhile, the Ducks, undefeated in Pac-10 play, look primed to take their first conference crown since 2001.

Masoli, who passed for 222 yards and ran for another 164 on his way to two scores, put the Ducks up 10-3 on a 3-yard run late in the first quarter. Minutes later, USC quarterback Barkley threw a 3-yard strike to Ronald Johnson to tie the game.

Barkley, who completed 21 of 38 throws for 187 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, directed several efficient drives to keep it close in the first half. But the Trojans’ defense would never find a way to slow down the Ducks, who led 24-17 at halftime.

James was especially difficult to stop, running all over the field in a performance that may have reminded USC fans of Oregon State’s Jacquizz Rodgers. Another diminutive running back, Rodgers gave the Trojans fits in the Beavers’ upset win last year and also accounted for 169 yards of offense a week ago at the Coliseum.

“We had trouble tackling him,” Carroll said of James. “We had him stopped in the backfield three, four, five times, and he spun around, ducked around, and got out and made some big plays.”

Over the next two quarters, USC struggled to get anything going while James and Masoli continued to carve up the Trojans’ defense.

With 5:50 left in the third quarter, James took the ball into the end zone from 5 yards out to increase the lead to 14. Fellow redshirt freshman Kenjon Barner scored on a 3-yard run to make it 41-20 at the end of the quarter.

On defense, the Ducks shut down the Trojan attack. After gaining 193 yards and finding the end zone twice in the first half, USC could only manage a single field goal over the final 30 minutes.

It was certainly a new experience for the Trojans, but mostly, it was just downright bewildering.

“I can’t even believe it right now,” said running back Joe McKnight. “I didn’t lose like this in high school, and I haven’t lost like this [in college]. Just to have that feeling for the first time, I hate it.”

4 replies
  1. Phillystine
    Phillystine says:

    Tomas, I agree with DK. He pointed out that the defense was so horrendous, maybe nothing could have helped Saturday. You’re right the defense has been suspect for a couple of games now, but the offense has not looked all that hot either if you ask me. And we were pathetic on BOTH sides of the ball in the second half of the Oregon game. It was a complete team collapse.

    DK’s larger point is also correct. Whatever’s going on, the fact remains that Carroll does not have a championship without Norm Chow. Having a great offense does open up the field and take the pressure off your defense. USC’s offenses since Chow left have been very good. But they have not been great. USC fielded some very good teams in the Kiffin-Sarkisian years. But we have not had a team recently that could beat one of the Carroll-Chow teams. That’s just truth.

    Maybe it is time to eat some humble pie, bite the bullet, and ask Chow to come back. I don’t know if that could save us if the defense keeps up the mediocrity, but it can’t hurt either.

  2. Tomas de Cali
    Tomas de Cali says:

    DK, Mark was the QB and Norm Chow didn’t coach the defense…TheTOTAL COLLAPSE of the defense ever since the last quarter of the Notre Dame game has been bewildering. It’s time to hold someone accountable.

  3. DK
    DK says:

    Agreed, the loss of Sanchez has been huge, now we know why Pete was so upset about it. It’s unfortunate he skipped out (especially after the SC athletic department saved him from those sexual assault charges nobody is ever allowed to talk about anymore). But given the defense’s unfortunate performance on Saturday, I’m not sure even Sanchez could have saved us.

    I do think, however, our offense sorely misses Norm Chow. The bottom line is that USC has not sniffed a national championship since Chow left…or was pushed out by the ambitious duo — Kiffin and Sarkisian. Now what’s the result? USC is no longer dominant, Chow is gone, and so are the ruthless social climbers Kiffin and Sarkisian. We lost both the bathwater and the baby.

    Chow needs to come home. UCLA does not have talent worthy of his skills. USC does. Pete and the boosters need to do whatever it takes to get Norm Chow back at Heritage Hall.

  4. GIles
    GIles says:

    This is a wake up call. We have taken our team for granted, and this was memorial to the Hackett years. During a game, we even acted like we did during that time. The booing of a fellow Trojan. (Remember Carson Palmer). We had the opportunity to have our first Hispanic Heisman, the inclination to the NFL was very strong. We have the talent, we have the ability, but I dare not say it. As for those UW coaches, I cant help but feel like we were stepped on to move on. Pete Carrol has taken is this far and has recruited the talent. I know he will do what is best.

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