"Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It's not about winning. It's about you and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn't let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasn't one more thing you could've done. Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? If you can do that gentleman - you're perfect!"
- Friday Night Lights. Coach Gary Gaines
Oregon State doesn't have to be literally perfect in order to beat USC in their own house -- don't misunderstand.
What they have to do is live up to coach Gaines' definition of perfect -- Give it everything you've got, and then just a little bit more.
Leave it all on the field. Walk away knowing there wasn't one single thing you could have done better, one moment where you could have tried harder.
USC is vulnerable, yet that is not to say that the Trojans are deficient in virtually any facet of the game.
Freshman quarterback Matt Barkely has been, if not amazing, nothing short of utterly efficient. Tailback Joe McKnight has grown up and learned how to run between the tackles and grind for the short yards -- instead of approaching every carry like he is starring in Madden 2010.
But what the Trojans have not been, is overwhelmingly dominant.
The Trojans are coming off of a bit of a scare in South Bend, a game that started out like a walk in the park and turned into something of a dogfight. The Beavers will come into the game fresh, spending two weeks looking at the Trojans on film and resting up and, perhaps, visualizing perfection.
This is certainly a game that Oregon State can win. It won't be easy, and it won't be for the faint of heart.
But Mike Riley teams have shown consistent improvement over the course of each season in his second stint, and with the Rodgers brothers both healthy, it is well within their capabilities. And Riley has a sparkling record coming off of a bye week -- his Beavers have won the last 7 games in a row coming off of a bye.
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1 - Wrap up. The number one player that I'd like to recognize in accomplishing this key is Cameron Collins. The completely un-politically correct statement that I overheard (and therefore take no credit or blame for) in the stands was; "That kid is latching on to Gerhart like a pit bull to a toddler". Don't kill the messenger, I will sell the guilty party out for a tootsie pop, just ask. Grade: A.
2 - Take Away the Play Action. Aside from the very first play of the game (a monumental coverage breakdown), Oregon State did an incredible job rolling up the corners into press coverage (or, as Jim Harbaugh would call it after he lost, holding,) and keeping Gerhart from being effective. Grade: A.
3 - Expose Their Defense. The quick outs to James Rodgers, the WILDCAT set, the seam routes, Markus Wheaton running the fly sweep out of the Wildcat. Speed everywhere. Overall just an absolutely fantastic game plan by Langsdorf and Riley, and they did exactly what they needed to -- They turned the game into a track meet. Grade: A.