Move Those Chains

The Trojans have posted two of the more impressive wins of this 26-game winning streak in back to back games. Coming back from down 18 points at halftime is a truly great win and one that the Trojans will take a lot of pride in and a lot of knowledge from. They now know that at no time, no matter what the score, are they out of a game.

Look at the Alabama – Florida game from this past weekend. Florida, the number five team in the nation, went into halftime down 24-7, a smaller deficit than the Trojans faced. In the second half, the Gators came out knowing they had no chance to take the lead, and lost the game 31-7. With the Trojans, however, a 21-3 deficit was more of a challenge to rise up to than a situation to be despondent about. Some people will say that the Trojans could develop a pattern of falling behind early in games, knowing that they can turn it on whenever they want, and this will ultimately come back to bite them. While it's true that the Trojans believe that you can't win the game in any quarter but the fourth, they certainly aren't naïve enough to believe that you can't lose the game in any quarter. That mantra doesn't mean, "Don't play hard until the fourth quarter." What it means is that no game is ever over until the final whistle blows. The Trojans know that, and as of now, it seems like they're the only ones.

Apparently nobody can stay with the Trojans for 60 minutes: Watching the game at Champps Sports Bar in Minneapolis, Minnesota (don't ask), the first play of the game that I saw came with 5:58 left in the first quarter. I'd like to thank ABC and DirecTV nearly getting me arrested for vandalism, as I was a few minutes away from putting my foot through the big screen. And just for good measure, they cut away from the feed late in the third quarter for several minutes. Bad times.

Didn't your mother ever tell you to finish what you started?: In another flash of brilliance on the part of ABC, the Michigan – Michigan State game was cut away from, just as Michigan was taking the field for their overtime possession. They could have been cutting to a press conference announcing me supreme ruler of earth and I would have said, "Um, can't this wait a few minutes?"

Quote of the day, part I: My girlfriend, Shayna. I'm not going to say I "trained" her, but... When asked if she'd like to go shopping at the mall across the parking lot, she replied, "Sure, but can we wait until halftime?" I didn't say anything because my mouth was full of nachos, but I still had to do a double take. I don't know when I was more proud, at that moment or when I received my degree.

Quote of the day, part II: As the guy with the remote control frantically tried to find the USC game, ABC would flip to the game for a split second, and then go back to the Nebraska – Iowa State game. When I told him that he had the right channel, and it was just a matter of the networks and cable services getting their acts together, the waitress turned to me and said, "I don't think it's that channel; they're just showing highlights of the game." The next time I'm watching SportsCenter and I see a clip of a referee uncovering the pile after a 2-yard run with no fumble, I'll think of her.

Crook and Shatter: No single play ran the entire gamut of emotions more than Kevin Ellison's interception. Starting with despair at the seeming completion, to hopefulness after the bobble/pitch, to elation at the interception and finishing with sadness as Ellison lay injured on the field. That play was more emotionally confusing than going through menopause, or so I would assume.

If this doesn't work, on 4th down we're giving it to Tiny Tim up the middle: There are some things people do and some things people don't do. Matt Leinart running a naked bootleg would fall under the latter.

"Indisputable evidence? I thought you said ‘indefensable'": The Trojans were again wronged by a replay official who had no business overturning a call made on the field. I'm usually not on to blame officials, but I think that the calls made on Reggie Bush's catch turned pseudo catch and on the phantom punt recovery in the Oregon game have thrown the Trojans into their opening funk during the past two games.

Sam Keller – The Heisman paradox: With 347 yards passing and two touchdowns against USC, Sam Keller moves to the Heisman short list. With five interceptions and another loss, Sam Keller is removed from the short list of Heisman candidates. It's like playing Monopoly and getting the "Advance to Boardwalk" Chance card, only to realize that someone else owns it with three hotels.

Overstatement Shmoverstatement: Justin Wyatt's interception one play after Dwayne Jarrett's lost fumble will go down as the play of the year for the Trojans. Arizona State got the ball at the USC 42-yard line up 21-10 and ready to regain momentum. Wyatt's brilliant play got the Trojans' sideline back in the game; USC scored four plays later and The Comeback was officially on.

On second thought, maybe dunks should be worth more than 2 points: When Darnell Bing is penalized 15 yards for protecting himself on the sideline and Robert James is penalized 15 yards for a four-step, malicious, blatantly-helmet-to-helmet-poor-sport cheap shot on Matt Leinart, something needs to be changed. James should have been watching the rest of the game from the locker room, and that doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of Arizona State's dirty, unsportsmanlike play.

Hats off to you, Sparky: I was watching the game with my friend, who did the broadcast for the Northwestern radio station during last season's game against the Sun Devils. He warned me about the Sun Devils' need to punctuate seemingly every tackle with a helmet twist, an extra tackler joining the pile or any other seedy extracurricular activity. After three Trojans lost their helmets after various plays and about a dozen missed facemask calls, I saw what he was talking about. The "Sin" Devils adhere to football's rules about as well as the Harlem Globetrotters follow basketball's.

Maybe he's minoring in the Cha-Cha: Much was made of Matt Leinart's class schedule for this semester, which includes one class: ballroom dancing. This should benefit the Trojans, as Leinart should have ample time to prepare for every Saturday (I don't imagine there is much homework in that class). But after watching the Trojans' signal caller for going on three years, I've noticed that he starts to "dance" in the pocket when constant pressure is being put on him. He'll sometimes display happy feet (short, quick, choppy steps) and second guess himself (pump faking and then taking sacks), throwing himself out of rhythm, which results in off-target throws. Leinart is at his best when he gets the ball out quickly and lets his receivers make plays for him. I don't think there's anything to worry about though. Even on a bad day, he's one of the best quarterbacks in the nation.

"Two halves? I thought you said two quarters!": Hey Sam Keller, if you want to lead the student section during the halftime cheer, apply to be the mascot.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me 26 times, in a row, it's getting ridiculous: With a little over 30 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Sam Keller broke the Sun Devil huddle with a 21-17 lead and three wide receivers lined up to his left, seemingly matched up against just one cornerback. Keller saw exactly what I saw, and probably what most everyone else at Sun Devil stadium saw. He audibled, thinking that a quick toss to one of those uncovered wide receivers would guarantee a first down and possibly more, provided the other Devils could get out and block. I'm not sure how Pete Carroll did it, and at this point, I'm more than able to accept mind control as an explanation, but he had Oscar Lua in a perfect position to quickly slide out and break up the pass. As a result, John Walker was able to grab it out of the air and give possession back to the Trojans. Afterwards, I was half expecting Ashton Kutcher to run out onto the field with his camera crew and make Sam Keller admit to being "Punk'd."

Going from ten months of summer a year to ten months of winter a year would make me a little unstable as well: An Arizona State fan sitting in front of me started mouthing off during halftime. During halftime, after acknowledging that Matt Leinart just put the finishing touches on possibly the worst half of his collegiate career, he responded, "And I suppose the Arizona State defense didn't have anything to do with that." I responded with, "Of course they did. They played extremely well." He added, "I guess you guys will just get us next year." He left, of course, at the start of the fourth quarter. I told him we'd get him next year too.

Sure, lightning is fast, but is it really that fast?: Ball in hand or not, no player in college football is more fun to watch than Reggie Bush. Certain players transcend the game, others revolutionize it. Reggie Bush is so good he has a position named after him. How many times during other games do you hear announcers make reference to a player who is filling a "Reggie Bush" type role for a team? And did you see the way his body bent when he went head-over-heels at the goal line? He says he's from San Diego, but he is from some other planet. When I find out where, I'm sending them a thank you card.

Water, water every where, nor any drop to drink: There are about a million individual awards handed out each year in college football and LenDale White won't win any of them. It's like Scottie Pippen never winning an MVP. Pippen never won an NBA title without perennial MVP Michael Jordan, but at the same time, Jordan never won one without Pippen. White didn't even sniff the Heisman Trophy last year and probably won't be invited to New York this year, but no Trojan has had more influence in USC's recent success than Mr. Thunder. LenDale White will be remembered as one of the great Trojan tailbacks, and with the talent of the running backs that have called the Coliseum their home, that is no small compliment. Top Stories