O/NSO - Oregon review

The top-ranked USC Trojans (3-0, 1-0), overcoming the first quarter from Autzen Stadium hell, turned the Oregon Trail into the Trojan Walk as the Leinart and Bush expedition transposed the legend of Lewis and Clarke, rushing to a 45-13 conquest over the Oregon Ducks (3-1, 0-1) before a record 59,129 fans.

The Obvious – The top-ranked USC Trojans (3-0, 1-0), overcoming the first quarter from Autzen Stadium hell, turned the Oregon Trail into the Trojan Walk as the Leinart and Bush expedition transposed the legend of Lewis and Clarke, rushing to a 45-13 conquest over the Oregon Ducks (3-1, 0-1) before a record 59,129 fans.

The Not So Obvious – Oh sure, there was the second half comeback of 35 unanswered points, but one game ball should go to Pete Carroll's defense, which settled in, curtailed the Ducks average of 40.7 point per game, and allowed only one touchdown for the third consecutive game. The second game ball should go to the Trojans' offensive line. Called by Oregon coach Mike Bellotti "as good as any I've ever seen," coach Pat Ruel's unit has the makings of one of the best groups the University has produced, assuming they can maintain their poise in such upcoming venues as Sun Devil and Notre Dame Stadiums.

The Obvious – The Trojans stretched its streak of No. 1 rankings to 23 in Sunday's new AP media poll.

The Not So Obvious - The Men of Troy welcomed two more first place-votes after Saturday afternoon's convincing win over the Ducks, which exited the mallards from Top 25 consideration. Future Trojans opponents in the new Top 25 include No. 12 Cal, No. 13 Notre Dame, next week's opponent, No. 14 ASU, and No. 20 UCLA.

The Obvious – The Trojans now have a 25-game win streak to go along with 11 straight road wins and 16 straight in the Pac-10.

The Not So Obvious – "The Streak(s)" figure to start getting more notoriety as the national streak begins to approach the magic number of thirty. While the Oklahoma streak of 48 under the legendary Bud Wilkinson seems safe for the time being, each Trojan win will have The Streak taking on a life of its own.

The Obvious – With the Trojan machine showing a rare glimpse of mortal makeup at Autzen Stadium, it certainly wouldn't be a stretch to say that southern Californians, in particular, were in a considerable state of shock at the outset of Saturday's game.

The Not So Obvious – It also wouldn't be a stretch to say that southern Californians let out a collective sigh of relief as the second half Trojans donned their immortal jerseys and proceeded to live up to their massive press clippings. Saturday's game served as a stark reminder that the 2005 Trojans aren't a Nintendo game, and on any given Saturday, with an assist from the football gods, are capable of being upended. Just remind yourself of the Oregon punt which hit the unsuspecting foot of Trojan William Buchanon, Matt Leinart's tipped interception pass in the end zone, and the numerous replay decisions –which combined can bring even a star-studded team like the Trojan to its knees.

The Obvious – Coach Pete Carroll was a fireball of excitement after the game, which saw his Trojans grow in poise, maturity, and execution after a nerve-racking first quarter.

The Not So Obvious – Afterwards Coach Pete Carroll said, "Oregon is a good football team, and they taxed us to the max. It was one of the better wins we've had in a long time," and " I don't like to learn things the hard way; Oregon was on it," a reference that Carroll doesn't want his Trojans to lose a game to master a gridiron lesson.

The Obvious – Pete Carroll saw Saturday's game as a stepping stone for future games.

The Not So Obvious – "There were many lessons and values we learned from this game," Carroll said. " It will help us down the line. It is a good illustration how it can be hard."

The Obvious – The Trojans decided at some point on Saturday that a No. 1 team should not only establish team execution but the physical execution of the Ducks.

The Not So Obvious -Oregon cornerback Aaron Gipson, the former Fontana Kaiser star, was one of many Ducks that felt the physical wrath of the surging No. 1 Trojans. Gipson said, "I was sore since the second or third play when I had to tackle LenDale White. I was coughing up blood; I've got bruises all over my body."

The Obvious – Thunder and Lightening, LenDale White and Reggie Bush, both ran for over 100 yards, respectively.

The Not So Obvious – "The offensive line has been waiting for a day like this all camp," White informed. " We got in the red zone but didn't execute. Once we started running the ball, the line got pumped up."

The Obvious – Not everybody was jumping on the Trojans' bandwagon after Saturday. ESPN.com Gene Wojciechowski wrote "This is the No. 1 team in the country? The supposed greatest offense in college football history? The program destined for the first-ever Chris Berman ("Back, back, back") of national championships? Not Saturday, it wasn't. And if it isn't very careful, not at season's end, either. If USC wants its historic threepeat, then the Trojans will need an injection of 2004, of humility and of discipline. Otherwise, I'm putting my BCS money on Virginia Tech or Texas as the team most likely to be holding a crystal football after the Jan. 4 Rose Bowl."

The Not So Obvious – Even the Times' wordsmith, Bill Plaschke, pointed out the Trojans are mere humans. The O/NSO found the Trojans overall performance a sign of football puberty. In fact, this game may be one of the turning points in the season, especially in terms of team leadership in which Frostee Rucker, Reggie Bush, and LenDale White reportedly gave their teammates the business at halftime. Prior to Saturday, we had felt the defense needed a soul, and it appeared on a lovely afternoon in the Williamette Valley the Trojan defenders may have found one. The feeling here is that any complacency this team may have had prior to the Autzen visit was stripped away immediately by the intensity level of the Ducks at the outset. Carroll's boys saw the enlarged target on their backs first hand.

The Obvious – The Trojans saw senior leadership and playing growth step up on Rich Brooks Field in players, like defensive end Frostee Rucker and the development of a rebuilt Front Four.

The Not So Obvious – Following the game, Carroll said, " We are seeing the emergence of Frostee Rucker and we've got a good front four. I don't worry about it anymore."

The Obvious – The gregarious Frostee Rucker was in a delightful mood after the game.

The Not So Obvious –Rucker said, " Today our offense did not go so fast, but today our defense did. We worked really hard in summer and we have 5-star athletes that have been waiting for their time (to play). We saw the option against Hawaii and today was another brush-up. Last year we started like this at Stanford. Sedrick (Ellis) and LaJuan (Ramsey) just need playing time. They played behind Shaun (Cody) and Mike (Patterson)."

The Obvious – The Oregon media knew that for one brief moment the Ducks were the engineers of a potential upset train.

The Not So Obvious – Oregon columnist John Canzano showed not mercy, however, for the Ducks writing "No. 1 USC defeated No. 24 Oregon 45-13 on Saturday in what must go down as a failure in courage. The Ducks had an opportunity, they had the early lead, they had the momentum. But in their moment of truth, they didn't have the heart or guts to do away with college football's reigning King." Ouch! Somebody call 911.

The Obvious – Due to the lack of Trojan offensive execution, it didn't take long at halftime before a member of the ABC studio crew to bring up the Norm Chow card, an obvious reference to what Norm Chow might do in this behind-at-halftime situation.

The Not So Obvious – Let's give offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin and assistant head coach Steve Sarkisian some game balls. After the rough first half, both had to be feeling just a little bit of Autzen anxiety. The second half left no doubt that these two made the proper adjustments and really only had one moment of questionable play-calling late in the third quarter when three consecutive pass plays were ordered up, all falling incomplete. It was a series that even brought the ire of ABC's Oregon grad Dan Fouts, who said, "Why is SC in a hurry to throw the ball and give life to the Ducks and the crowd?"

The Obvious – The Trojans were down at halftime 13-10.

The Not So Obvious – In 2002 with eventual Heisman winner Carson Palmer, the Trojans were down in Eugene 19-14 before exploding for a 44-33 victory.

The Obvious – If the Trojans win the opening coin toss, as they did on Saturday, Pete Carroll will almost always elect to go on defense first.

The Not So Obvious – Once again the strategy paid off handsomely as the Trojans received the opening second half kickoff and marched 78 yards in five plays, capped by a Leinart to Jarrett 11-yard touchdown strike. Not bad for a drive that took just 1:20 to set the tone. The Trojan drive was like a sedative to the Autzen multitude.

The Obvious – The Trojans' offense accounted for 593 yards.

The Not So Obvious – On the season, the Ducks' defense was allowing 362 yards per game.

The Obvious – Before Saturday's game, Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said, "You have to play inspired defense. You have to negate the ability of their backs and receivers to get going. Reggie Bush you have to stop before he's started because he's so elusive. You have to contain him."

The Not So Obvious – However, at the end of the day, Bush had another Heisman day with over 200 all-purpose yards. Following the game, former Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz gave high praise to Bush saying No. 5 " must have gone to Krypton High," and "They (USC) are very competitive, have toughness, and have the mental toughness."

The Obvious – Pete Carroll is not in favor of instant replay.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans benefited from a fourth quarter Josh Pinkard interception instant replay that went the Trojans way and set up a LenDale White 2-yard score.

The Obvious – The Trojans passed for 315 yards on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – On the season, the Oregon defense was allowing 281 passing yards per game.

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart was 23 of 39 for 315 yards and three touchdowns.

The Not So Obvious – If the Trojans were able to eventually handle the volume in Autzen Stadium Saturday, some of the credit should go to Leinart who during practice this week was whispering in the huddle to simulate the audio challenge. Unfortunately for Lefty, it appeared he, too, was caught in the midst of the Autzen first quarter fog as he was called for a delay of game, tried to force passes into double and triple coverage, and generally looked uncomfortable in the early going.

The Obvious - The Trojans' defense was allowing 381.5 yards per game prior to Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – The Ducks had 262 in total offense on Saturday.

The Obvious – Oregon senior quarterback Kellen Clemens was 15 of 30 for 158 yards and one touchdown.

The Not So Obvious – The more important statistic was Clemens rushing of nine carries for five yards. Thanks to the inspired play of Trojans Front Four led by ends Frostee Rucker and Lawrence Jackson and tackles Sedrick Ellis and LaJuan Ramsey, the Trojans' defense defended the option with relative ease and turned Clemens into a human tackling dummy with three sacks. By the third quarter, a punished Clemens didn't know the difference between Eugene and Corvallis and in stepped backup San Leandro junior Dennis Dixon, who showed some spark but was also whacked around.

The Obvious – Much has been expected for former Florida prep All-America linebacker Keith Rivers, arguably the finest schoolboy linebacker in the land two years ago.

The Not So Obvious – Saturday's game appeared to be the coming out party for the Rivers. Keith had a team-tying eight tackles and his speed was a real showcase throughout the game. On one option play in the their quarter, Rivers made a big-time, option hit on James Finley.

The Obvious – Junior middle linebacker junior Oscar Lua had eight tackles and flashed the promise the former Indio High star displayed before his knee injuries.

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps as important as Lua's physical play was his leadership at the defensive quarterback position. Lua was all around the ball and appears to be scratching the surface of his value on the field.

The Obvious – Much has been also expected by Trojan strong safety Darnell Bing, a three-year starter and Carroll favorite.

The Not So Obvious – A candidate for almost every secondary award possible, there are some who feel Bing has been more potential than productive. However, on Saturday this afternoon, he made three straight defensive stop of Clemens passes to again tantalize the masses. The one play Bing will remember is a missed opportunity of a potential pass interception touchdown during a crucial moment which he dropped.

The Obvious – The last thing that Bellotti wanted on Saturday was a shootout. The coach said, "I don't know that we want to match touchdowns with USC. At this point I think the lower the score the better that is for the Ducks and I think that we have the ability to move the football and we can score points. I am just not sure we can do it quite as fast as USC has shown they have done it the past two games.

The Not So Obvious – Part of the reason for the Trojans ineptness in the first half was a return to a Hawaii game penalty mood as the Cardinal and Gold had nine flags, some of which could be traced to being overly physical and underly mental.

The Obvious – The Trojans had eleven penalties for 88 yards, nine in the first half, two of which were unsportsmanlike calls.

The Not So Obvious – The Ducks had eight penalties for 88 yards, two of which brought back apparent touchdowns.

The Obvious – The Trojans rushed for 278 yards.

The Not So Obvious – "They dominated the line of scrimmage, certainly in the second half," Oregon coach Mike Bellotti said. "That wears down a team on both sides of the ball." The Ducks defense was allowing 151 rushing yards per game and Saturday's Trojan rushing onslaught broke the spirit of the Ducks' respected front four.

The Obvious – The Trojans' offensive line was confronted by highly publicized defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, a massive junior who may be coming out for the NFL draft in the spring.

The Not So Obvious – Ngata said, "A lot of us were cramping up, letting USC get to us. We have to condition ourselves and become more disciplined. We were mentally and physically tired. We were really tired in the second half." Sounds like a compliment to Trojans strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle, as well. Of course when Ngata moved to nose tackle, he was triple-teamed by center Ryan Kalil and guards Deuce Lutui and Fred Matua and that tends to wear you out. We're talkin' about a thousand pounds of Trojan beef.

The Obvious – Trojan tailback Reggie Bush had 20 carries for 122 yards and two touchdowns to go along with his 43 yards on three receptions

The Not So Obvious – Almost forgotten in Reggie's second half 11-yard reverse-field dazzler score was his critical 19-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter that got the Trojans back in the game. On the 11-yard reverse field touchdown, he got a great block from right guard Fred Matua, although it could have been clipping, and quarterback Matt Leinart on strong safety Kwame Agyeman. Think Lefty's block will be shown in the film room over and over with respected teammate response?

The Obvious – Since 1992, the Ducks have played five top-10 teams at Autzen Stadium and had won each one.

The Not So Obvious – And certainly through the first half, there was the perception that the Ducks might make it six. However, not only did the Ducks succumb to Leinart and company, but it appeared that the Autzen Stadium faithful were also worn out by the time the third quarter began.

The Obvious – Sophomore receiver Dwayne Jarrett had eight receptions for 94 yards and two touchdowns.

The Not So Obvious – Apparently the noise factor didn't effect the New Jersey product for long, although it appeared that Leinart's first quarter end zone interception was tipped by Dwayne, and ,in reality, should have been caught for a score. With Saturday's Trojan win, Jarrett has now won 27 consecutive games dating back to his playing days at New Brunswick High.

The Obvious – Corner John Walker started his first game with the Trojans and gave up the lone Duck's touchdown on blown coverage on Ducks' receiver Demetrius Williams, the former Concord De La Salle star.

The Not So Obvious – After the game, Pete Carroll took responsibility for the coverage call and Walker seemed to settle down except for an inexcusable personal foul call out of bounds.

The Obvious – One of the main differences in the two offenses was that the Trojans converted touchdowns in the red zone while the Ducks, which has been their pattern this young season, converted field goals.

The Not So Obvious – Saturday the Ducks, who had made 12-of-14 field goal attempts by Paul Martinez, had another two, while the Trojans' Mario Danelo, who had no field goals up to the Oregon game, had a welcome 36-yard field goal at the end of the first half to give the Trojans a lift going into the locker room.

The Obvious – Saturday's Trojan win exceeded the point spread.

The Not So Obvious – ESPN Game Day crew was in agreement the Trojans would come out on top. Before the game, Lee Corso said, "Oregon has two chances, slim and none, and to win they will have to throw 60 times. Oregon will score in the 40's and USC will score in the 90's."

The Obvious – ESPN Game Day host Kirk Herbstreit has been a big supporter of Matt Leinart and the Trojan offense.

The Not So Obvious – Herbstreit predicted before Saturday's game the Trojans would win 56-35. The former Ohio State signal-caller also said, " I think when it's all said and done, this offense (USC) will be the best we've ever seen."

The Obvious –Face value for reserved seats for Saturday's game was $42 and $18 for standing-room tickets.

The Not So Obvious - Individual tickets on eBay late this week were going for as high as $152 for a 50-yard line seat, and up to $480 for a party of four.

The Obvious – The Trojan defense did a distinguished job of defending Ducks' tailback Terrance Whitehead.

The Not So Obvious – Whitehead, who carried seven times for 14 yards and no touchdowns, found the ground game a rough go thanks to the efforts of tackles Sedrick Ellis and LaJuan Ramsey.

The Obvious – A number of Trojan fans that made their way up to Eugene made reservations for lodging back in July.

The Not So Obvious –There were no hotel rooms available on Saturday night in Eugene, Springfield, or Corvallis. Part of the problem was that Arizona State was playing a night game at Oregon State, which is located in Corvallis.

The Obvious – The Trojans have been hurt with the injury bug this year, having lost linebacker Dallas Sartz for Saturday's game and defensive back Terrell Thomas for the year.

The Not So Obvious – Saturday's infirmary report was positive as no Trojan appeared too banged up for Arizona State this week. Wide receiver Steve Smith, who had six receptions for 93 yards, walked to the locker after a skin injury and defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey had a slight ankle sprain but nothing serious for a change.

The Obvious – The weather at kickoff in Eugene was sunny and 69 degrees.

The Not So Obvious – Certainly playing a game in September beats the rain in November. Oregon may have brought the noise, but the Trojans brought the winning SoCal weather.

The Obvious – The Oregon offensive line was the biggest the Trojans will face in the Pac-10.

The Not So Obvious – It certainly worked to the Trojans' advantage as the USC front four completely out-quicked the Ducks. On one play, defensive end Frostee Rucker ran circles around Ducks' offensive right tackle Geoff Schwartz, Oregon's largest lineman, for a sack.

The Obvious – When the Trojans come onto the Coliseum for warm-ups, whether it's punter Tom Malone or the entire team, Coliseum fans go wild.

The Not So Obvious – When the Trojans came out for warm-ups at Autzen Stadium, it didn't matter about the numbers of cardinal and gold players, the booing was very intense and direct.

The Obvious – The Trojans, by conference rule, are allowed only 64 players on the travel squad.

The Not So Obvious – The limited number of Trojan bodies allowed some playing time for walk-on performers Brad Walker and Jerry Williams. It should also be noted that tight end Nick Vanderboom and Whitney Lewis, who had a tackle, got some PT.

The Obvious – A large number of uniformed Trojan Marching Band members made the trip to Eugene.

The Not So Obvious – Following the game, running back Desmond Reed led the TMB in Conquest.

The Obvious – The Trojans travel to Tempe, Arizona, next week to face a Sun Devil quarterback, Sam Keller, who has made it quite clear that he is the next in line to believe his team is the answer for the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – For Trojan fans that are exhaling from Saturday's hectic first quarter at Autzen Stadium, it figures to be a hot one, literally, next weekend in the Valley of the Sun. As for Pete Carroll and his celebrated team, there is nothing warmer at the moment than a big win in Eugene.

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