It’s a fine line student journalists walk, being neutral as a media member, while also still a fan as a student.
But this column is not written by a journalist and a media member. This column is written by a student and a fan of the University of Southern California. And I am way beyond that aforementioned line right now.
So in the interest of full disclosure, I hate Stanford.
Yes, hate is a strong word. It’s a word with powerful connotations that should not be thrown around lightly. But, I mean, really, I hate the Cardinal.
At the Farm last Saturday, I was with a friend of mine who goes to Stanford. We were talking before the game, and he looked at me and asked rhetorically, “You guys really want to beat us, don’t you?”
I was at a loss for words to describe my immense and total desire to do exactly that. I grew up a California fan in the Bay Area. One of my fondest memories remains storming the field at Stanford Stadium after the Golden Bears won the Big Game there in 2009. I was bred to hate Stanford.
When Stanford stunned USC in 2007, I was disappointed they were taking the limelight. When the Trojans smacked around the Cardinal in 2008, I figured all was right again in the world.
Then there was the infamous game when Stanford mercilessly ran up the score on the Trojans at the Coliseum in 2009 which was followed by the awkward Jim Harbaugh-Pete Carroll confrontation. That was scary. In 2010, the Trojans almost pulled off a huge upset in Palo Alto, Calif., losing on a last-second field goal. And then, of course, there was the triple-overtime classic of 2011.
Before Saturday’s game, I figured USC had been close, and now they were due for a win. I wanted the team to go up north and not just win, but dominate. I wanted for the Trojans to lay a beat-down on Stanford so bad it would almost eliminate the pain of those other losses. Senior quarterback Matt Barkley needed to throw seven touchdowns. Stanford had to give us two pick-sixes and three fumble recoveries. I wanted a Curtis McNeal 70-yard touchdown run. Sophomore defensive tackle George Uko and junior defensive end Morgan Breslin needed to eat someone, too.
I wanted everything.
What I should have wanted, however, was something far simpler: a victory.
One simple tick in the ‘W’ column for these Trojans against Stanford, that first real piece of “unfinished business.” Now it looks as though that particular bit of business might be left unfinished.
Immediately after the game, I thought about the Trojan’s BCS title hopes. I realized that a loss in game number three does not completely derail those. I realized, also, that the Trojans still control their own destiny to the Rose Bowl, where they would presumably beat up on some hopelessly overrated Big Ten team and could certainly count that as finishing said “business.”
But eventually the pure and untempered Stanford hatred running through my veins took over, and I realized there was something far, far more important to me: a rematch.
I want USC and Stanford to play for the Pac-12 championship on Nov.30. And for that, despite every bone in my body aching to the contrary, I want Stanford to win the rest of their regular season games. I want them to win at Washington, at Oregon and at UCLA. I want them to beat all of USC’s other rivals. I want them to do whatever they need to do to make sure they win the Pac-12 North.
And I want that title game in Palo Alto, in their house. I want the Trojans to go up there, 11-1, with the sourest of sour tastes in their mouths and to face 12-0 Stanford, one game away from playing for the national championship. I want Matt Barkley and company to finish their business in the most dramatic possible way. I want Stanford to fail on the biggest possible stage.
And in that case, a win would be more than enough. I don’t need Stanford punched in the face. I don’t need anyone to get eaten. I just want them beat. And I want it to be USC who does it.
Talk about finishing business.
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