O/NSO "On The Road" - WSU review

With junior quarterback John David Booty and senior wide receiver Steve Smith the audition winners of the Pac 10's version of "Survivor," the Great Northwest edition, the No. 2/3 USC Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-10) survived right down to the final play to defeat the Washington State Cougars (3-2, 1-1 Pac-10) 28-22 before a sold out crowd at a loud and raucous Martin Stadium.

The Obvious – Pullman – With junior quarterback John David Booty and senior wide receiver Steve Smith the audition winners of the Pac 10's version of "Survivor," the Great Northwest edition, the No. 2/3 USC Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-10) survived right down to the final play to defeat the Washington State Cougars (3-2, 1-1 Pac-10) 28-22 before a sold out at a loud and raucous Martin Stadium.

The Not So Obvious – It took a career game from Steve Smith (11 catches for 186 yards and a pair of touchdowns) and another test passed by John David Booty (three touchdowns and 269 passing yards), as the Trojans notched their 18th consecutive road win and kept their national championship hopes alive, both national and Rose Bowl. The O/NSO can safely say that the biggest challenges are ahead and it won't be easy. With injuries mounting, it can make very game a bottle of Tums. What didn't take Tums was the enjoyment that many Trojan fans received from making the trip to the Great Northwest. Here now is the Washington State review in the third installment of the O/NSO "On the Road" with the Cardinal and Gold.

Friday, Sept. 29

5:45 a.m. – In a sudden case of paranoia last night, I re-adjust my alarm clock from 6 am to 5:45. Pete Carroll would be proud of my audible.

6:15 - you know the drill by now, oat bran and cinnamon bread. My breakfast is as unimaginative as a Joe Paterno offense.

6:45 - Leave for John Wayne Airport. On the way, 710 ESPN's Colin Cowherd is pontificating on the Terrell Owen's misreported suicide attempt. Aren't we all a little tired of it? Cowherd goes on to say that "college football needs for USC to be a super power. College football just needs USC to be a super power." Trojan fans never get tired of hearing that.

7:00 - Check in at the US Airways counter, and a woman is loudly proclaiming, "I'm going to Maui! I'm going to Maui!" In my head, I'm proclaiming, "I'm going to Pullman! I'm going to Pullman!"

7:40 - Boarding begins for Flight # 583 with service to Phoenix and then on to Spokane. A couple of "Trojans" walk by, one with a Matt Leinart, white number 11 jersey, and another wearing a "SC" polo shirt. Didn't expect a Notre Dame weekender mass of Cardinal and Gold humanity heading to Pullman.

7:42 - While in line to board with "Group 5," a huge human being on a cell phone walks up, and I swear he looks like heralded Washington State defensive end Mkristo Bruce. Having seen Mkristo at Pac 10 media day, I feel somewhat qualified to make this comparison. Suddenly, I think of John David Booty and hope that Trojan tackles Sam Baker and Kyle Williams are on their game for high priority security protection of Booty.

9:25 - Land at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Purchase an Arizona Republic newspaper, and there is a story that says Saturday's temperature for the ASU game against Oregon in Tempe will be expected to exceed 100 degrees. Looks like the O/NSO "On The Road" dodged a real infuego bullet last weekend in Tucson.

10:25 – Re-board Flight # 583 and the flight attendant welcomes everyone for the direct flight to "Tacoma." Say what? This is a Tyrone Willingham conspiracy! Flight attendant corrects himself and a large number of Trojan fans on board exhale a sigh of relief. Flight to Spokane will be 2 hours and 20 minutes.

10:50 - And away we go! We fly over Sun Devil Stadium and there is no sign of ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter doing little extra preparation for a visit from Mike Bellotti's Ducks.

11:25 - Captain points out down and to our right is the Grand Canyon. The darn thing has more twists and turns than Emmanuel Moody has moves. Quite a sight, as always.

11:33- Pass by St. George, Utah and Zion National Park, which reminds me that my old alma mater, Alhambra High has a blue-chip senior receiver Zion Babb, whose father was a hurdler at Troy.

12:01 p.m.- Next fly by the Great Salt Lake with Salt Lake City in the background. No, we can't see Stanley Havili's house. Geesh.

1:10 - Descend into Spokane and nothing but farmhouses and trees down below. No sign of Washington State or Pullman.

1:12 – Touchdown in Spokane, where the weather is comfortable 75 degrees. Whenever I think of Spokane, I think of my youth when the Dodger's Triple A farm club, the Spokane Indians, was always being mentioned my Vin Scully.

2:00 - Pull into the Holiday Inn Airport in my Buick Rendezvous. Happy to report Room 305 comes equipped with a microwave.

2:30 - Gotta eat. Head downstairs, but the coffee shop is closed. So I get back in my Rendezvous and head back into Spokane in search of anything to eat. Where's Julies when I need it? I'd even settle for The Sizzler on Figueroa.

2:45 - Spokane is as different as Norwalk is to Newport Beach. It has beautiful trees and hills surrounded by ugly bridges and freight trains. Don't know about Pullman, but Spokane is in another time zone and I don't mean Pacific.

3:00 - Walk into a Safeway to appease my breakfast habit and get some oat bran, oranges, and some Nilla Wafers. Next door is the Automobile Club, so I drop in for some maps and traffic suggestions. Kindly, elderly woman says, "Ah, you're here for the big game. It should be nice weather but bring a jacket and long pants. It gets chilly in Pullman when the sun goes down. It should take you an hour and a half, but go early to avoid the traffic. Some friends of yours came in earlier with the same questions." Ah, the Trojan fans are beginning to show.

4:10 - Read the Spokane Spokesman Review. They pick the Trojans 34-13. Story on WSU defense quotes linebacker coach Leon Burtnett as saying, "This is a hell of an opponent(USC). There are very few elite teams in the country anymore. That's the good news. The bad news is, one of them is coming in here on Saturday."

5:00 - Decide to go over to Gonzaga University strictly out of curiosity and find a sweet little campus which reminds me of Chapman University. Because I had read about it, I visit the Bing Crosby Collection, a room full of memorabilia devoted to Gonzaga's most famous alum. Find out that Bing Crosby's real name was Harry Lillis Crosby. Visitors to the Crosbyana Room can see over 150 items including Bing's Oscar, gold and platinum records, including White Christmas and manuscripts from his "Road" pictures. It's not Heritage Hall, but its still pretty cool.

6:26 - Go to Trojan pep rally at Spokane Doubletree Hotel. Fans of both teams are in the lobby singing either "Go Cougs!" or "Fight On!" Two elderly Trojan fans are attempting to sell tickets for more than game cost.

6:45 - Pacific Northwest Buffet commences with meatballs, mushrooms, breaded chicken, fruit, and crackers. Around 150 Trojan fans are in a small ballroom dressed in all sorts of cardinal and gold attire. Fans are excited for the traditional raffle, which features a Lofa Tatupu autographed Seattle Seahawks jersey and an autographed football signed by the members of this year's Trojan team.

7:35 - Dr. Arthur C. Bartner appears in game-day red suit and tie and in marches 70 uniformed members of the Trojan Marching Band with song girls, flag girls, and a baton twirler. Bartner says this is the largest group of musicians he has taken to an away game this season. It's because the members in attendance are the junior class. The good doctor informs his audience that he took his seniors to Arkansas and the Trojans won. He took his sophomore class to Tucson and the Trojans won. So there is a lot of pressure on this junior class to bring a victory back to Los Angeles. The band does its usual pregame and halftime music, much to the delight of the Trojan fans gathered. Bartner says, "It took the band a week and a half to get here." A reference to Spokane being in a remote location.

8:22 - Band concludes with "Conquest" and fans are ready for the kick-off right now, but the game is still 20 hours away.

8:40 - Bartner and his band assemble outside on the grass which runs parallel to a main street. After a few words of encouragement, the band plays a very loud version of "Fight On!" as pedestrians stop and cars slow down.

9:00 - Return to the Holiday Inn, a feat in itself considering it's totally dark outside, the main streets in Spokane are one-way, and I don't know where the hell I am.

11:25 - On television station KREM, Washington State Coach Bill Doba says," If we play our fundamentals, we can beat these guys." I have never heard Doba so open and confident. Normally, he is very gracious and complimentary. This quote is an anomaly of what we've seen of him in the past. Does he know something we all don't know?

Saturday, Sept. 30

8:30 a.m. – Game Day! Per requirements of routine, turn on ESPN GameDay and suddenly Holiday Inn Room 305 is filled with electricity. The excitement switch is turned to "on" as Lee Corso predicts a close Trojan win, unfortunately for his friend Bill Doba. "Herbie" says its how WSU quarterback Alex Brink plays. The former Ohio State quarterback predicts the Cougs in an upset. Think any of Pete Carroll's boys are watching?

9:05 - ESPN Game is Tennessee and Memphis. Only thing worse than watching this game is listening to play-by-play-voice Sean McDonough. How this guy stays on any network is as big a mystery as the WSU game plan.

9:45 - Microwave some Quaker oat bran and substitute Sun Maid raisin bread with cinnamon swirls for home breakfast bread. Hey, if Patrick Turner can substitute for Dwayne Jarrett, than the O/NSO can substitute breakfast brand for an away game.

9:48 - May have to leaver earlier for Pullman than planned. Television games are just plain bad as FSN is showing Colorado and Missouri and ESPN2 has Wisconsin at Indiana. Makes me yearn for the Bill Doba Show.

11:00 - Depart for Pullman and take Route 195. Speed limit starts at 55 miles per hour. Pass a 76 station where gas is $2.79 a gallon. The scenery is trees and hills and very much looks like Oregon or Massachusetts.

11:25 - Pass a deer crossing sign and a sign for Paradise Road. Paradise Road makes me think of the movie American Graffiti and the climatic race scene with Harrison Ford and "John Milner," which takes place on a Paradise Road.

11:36 - A tanker truck is ahead of me and in my rearview mirror there are so many cars backed up it looks like the final scene of the movie Field of Dreams. Our two-lane highway now becomes a single lane.

11:46 - Pass the Longhorn Café. Those Texans have a way of getting into the Trojan's affairs.

12:08 p.m.- While watching cars try to pass around each other like a perilous game of Russian Roulette, we try searching for the WSU radio station. While searching, we hear everything from Gene Chandler's "Duke of Earl" to a popular country western song called "Skip a Rope."

12:16 - Go through Colfax, a Main Street type of town. Speed limit is 25 miles per hour and cars incredibly slow to a crawl in fear of the renowned speed trap.

12:45 - Arrive at WSU and here is a major shocker, NO CHARGE for public parking!!! As I pass by Martin Stadium, it looks like the size of Orange Coast College or East Los Angeles Community College. It is so intimate, it reminds me of Wrigley Field of the Pac 10. It is a beautiful day in Pullman with a nice "South Bend" type of wind.

1:02 - Four Trojans in an old red convertible cruise by with all four passengers wearing Trojan band helmets while "Tribute to Troy" is blaring out of the speakers. Oh yes, four Trojan flags wave from all four corners of the convertible.

1:15 - Four WSU co-eds giggle on Grimes Street on how they would "camp out when it is snowing, but today is such a beautiful day." Tailgating at WSU will never be considered a threat to tailgating at Exposition Park. There isn't much of it here in the Palouse.

1:18 - A WSU fan gives me directions to the "Bookie," the student store, and seeing my WeAreSC staff shirt asks, "How much are you going to beat us by?" I quickly reverse the question and ask, "What do you think?" The fan holds up three fingers for the number of Trojan touchdowns. Campus hills and buildings of WSU remind me of our friends in Westwood.

1:23 - Stand on Stadium Way Street, which looks into Martin Stadium. You know this is a little stadium when many of the concession stands are portable trailers with logos of Papa Johns and Coca-Cola.

1:30 - Huge line of WSU students are waiting to get into Martin Stadium. To pass the time they do Cougar cheers and boo Trojan fans.

1:45 - Arrive at The Bookie and what an impressive combination of bookstore, grocery store, spirit apparel, and memorabilia. The two level complex is better, in our opinion, than that of the University of Arizona.

1:48 - Buy game program for $4.00. Decided to buy early because girls selling the programs were from Pullman High School and the proceeds went to their math team. The game cover is an artist's drawing of a football field with a football. The program is eighty pages, but there are no pictures of the Trojan players. WSU does have a nice section of color mugs of the Cougar players. Is this considered a home field advantage?

2:12 - Learn from an insider, WSU will come out in new Russell home uniforms that are compression packed. This will prevent holding by the Trojans. The new duds are also intended to have a Notre Dame "green uniform" shock effect.

2:28 - In a mild upset, Trojan team busses arrive without a police escort. Pete Carroll comes over and shakes hands with university VIPs and boosters. The team has that serious Arizona look, and receiver Steve Smith is last to leave the bus and has the look of somebody who intends to raise his game with Dwayne Jarrett out. With the game being played in Pullman, there is a very small turnout of Trojan parents, family and friends to greet the Cardinal and Gold.

2:40 - Public address system blares "Smoke on the Water" as fans enter Martin Stadium. Moments later rap music follows. Yes, they like Rap in Pullman.

2:50 - Near a secluded fenced area below the stadium, there is a tunnel for players to enter the field. Trojan administrative assistant Terrel Ray hugs a Cougar player. WSU quarterback Alex Brink walks out in a t-shirt and in his game pants listening to his ipod. He has no look for fear. Moments later, Trojan linebacker Rey Maualuga walks past the Cougar lockers and there is a sense of foreboding in his eyes. Small number of Cougar fans outside the fenced area comment how intimidating No. 58 looks.

3:00 - Hoard of WSU recruits walk by fenced area. They have a different look than the recruits you see at the Coliseum. Draw your own conclusions.

3:02 - Jesse Taylor, a non-playing Cougar, comes out of the locker room wearing a new Cougar "surprise" jersey.

3:07 - Pete Carroll walks by and Cougar fans react as though they have seen a Hollywood movie star.

3:17 - With Trojan special teams now on the field, the Trojan Marching Band fires up "Tribute to Troy" as Cougars warm up in the end zone next to Dr. Bartner and his spirited musicians. Did we mention Trojans fans are sitting behind the south end zone on metal benches with no backs? Eric Frampton, a senior strong safety, comes over to the Trojans band and starts talking with them. Weather is in the mid 70's and suddenly Cougar standout defensive end Mkristo Bruce dances to the Trojan music.

3:48 - In the absence of Dwayne Jarrett, the traditional long pass to conclude Trojan warm-ups goes to Patrick Turner. The Trojan team then runs to the Trojan end zone of fans and gives the Fight On sign as the band again plays "Tribute to Troy." As the team exits the field, special teams coach Sam Anno has placekicker Mario Danelo kicking one more field goal before going in.

3:59 - A fan in a Texas uniform jersey goes through the USC sections screaming. "You're No. 2!" He must be referring to this season's USA Today Coaches Poll, but he didn't mention where his Longhorns are ranked.

4:04 - A Cougar mascot comes on the field and gets the crowd on both sides yelling, "Go Cougs!"

4:07 - WSU takes the field behind their mascot driving a four-wheel mini-tractor as fireworks go off over the scoreboard.

4:09 - Trojans enter the field and the Trojan Marching Band strikes up while WSU fans boo like crazy. By the way, the band Trojan band will stand for the entire game behind the end zone.

4:10 - Trojans kick-off to WSU and naturally Troy Van Blarcom kicks yet another touchback.

4:11 - On the first play from scrimmage, Cougar tailback Dwight Tardy is stopped by Rey Maualuga for two-yard gain. Yes, Rey is here to validate that Coach Bill Doba's assertion that he is already an All-American.

4:12 - On third-and-1, Trojan linebacker Brian Cushing makes the first big stop of the game. Cushing gets up nodding his head.

4:13 - Trojans take over on their own 28-yard line and both freshman Emmanuel Moody and C.J. Gable are in the backfield. No surprise for WSU, who stops Gable for a gain of a yard.

4:17- First TV timeout, and while we have a break, the day is gorgeous, but the video board isn't. It looks like the first TV set made in 1948. Very poor quality. Makes the Coliseum video board look like high definition.

4:22 - Cougars have the ball and the Trojans get the first glimpse of perhaps a long day. Trojan corner Terrell Thomas is called for pass interference on smooth Cougar wide receiver Jason Hill. You get the impression the Cougars think they can throw successfully at the Trojan secondary.

4:26 – A 35-yard field goal by Loren Langley, who has had his issues at converting field goals, caps an impressive 54-yard drive in 11 plays. Cougar drive is aided by pass interference on the Trojans' Cary Harris. It appears early the Trojan secondary will have its work cut out. WSU 3, USC 0

4:27 - Trojans receive an exciting 55-yard kick-off return by C.J. Gable. With moves like that, who needs Reggie Bush? I was only kidding. I was only kidding.

4:28- From their own 40, Trojan receiver Steve Smith gets loose on a deep post and completes a 33-yard pass reception from Booty. Stevie looks ready to play.

4:30 - Senior receiver Chris McFoy finds an opening in the Cougars' end zone for a Trojan touchdown. O/NSO believes this is McFoy's first touchdown in his Trojan career. The Trojans march 40 yards in two plays. This is the first time this season we have seen this fast a scoring drive. USC 7, WSU 3.

4:38 - Trojan junior defensive tackle Chris Barrett sacks Brink and Pete Carroll finally gets his wish of a tackled quarterback in the backfield.

4:43 - WSU defensive end Mkristo Bruce makes his appearance by blowing by Trojan right tackle Kyle Williams for a 5-yard loss. Bruce is a stud.

4:47- Trojans' sophomore receiver Patrick Turner fumbles a quick pass from Booty and the ball is recovered by the Cougar's Michael Willis. Turner violates the Carroll law of "Protect the Ball."

4:49 - Cougars mount a drive and get a reception from junior Michael Bumpus for eight yards. Bumpus is the wide receiver who thought he was going to USC… until Dwayne Jarrett decided to come west from New Jersey.

4:49 - End of the first quarter. The Cougars have shown they can move on the Trojans impressively with Alex Brink in control. USC 7, WSU 3

4:51 - The second quarter begins with Cougar running back Dwight Tardy running a counter for ten yards. Counters and bend plays are hurting the Trojans.

4:55 - Cougar star receiver Jason Hill drops a touchdown pass after he had beaten Cary Harris in the end zone. Whew! We'll be seeing that pass again at some point; you can bet on it. On the eighth play of a 31- yard drive, Cougar Loren Langley connects on a 35-yard field goal. Langley looks like Morten Anderson today, a longtime NFL kicker. USC 7, WSU 6

5:02 - Trojans sustain yet another potential injury after receiver Chris McFoy goes out with some sort of arm injury after a 5-yard gain.

5:02 - With a first down on their own 48, the Trojans strike another big play as Steve Smith hauls in a 49-yard crossing pattern form Booty. Credit the Trojan offensive line for giving J.D. good protection.

5:03 - Junior Chauncey Washington finds pay dirt from three yards out as C.W. gets assistance from the left side of the Trojan line. It's an impressive 80-yard drive in seven plays in just 2:55. CW is fulfilling the Trojans need for a big back going downhill. Steve Smith has taken the team upon his shoulders along with John David Booty. USC 14, WSU 6

5:04 - The O/NSO finally figures out that the Cougar public address announcer sounds like hall of famer Harry Kalas of Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles fame.

5:12 - Desmond Reed fumbles a forty-yard punt from Darryl Blunt, but the Trojans recover as ball goes out of bounds in the pile up. Carroll's "Protect the Ball" mantra is now being tested like never before.

5:22 - Trojans call time out and referee Jay Stricherz says, "Timeout University of Southern California." Apparently Jay has read the Trojan media guide and its request not to refer to USC as "Southern Cal."

5:23 - Trojan's freshman safety Taylor Mays makes his first big mistake on a pass interference call with Cougar wide receiver Jason Hill. It was only a matter of time before a good offense like the Cougars would attack Mays on a regular basis. It won't be the first nor the last time Mays is tested this afternoon.

5:24- The Cougars are on the march with a 21-yard reception from Brink to sophomore Brandon Gibson.

5:33- With just 38 seconds remaining in the half, Cougars Jason Hill beats Trojan corner Terrell Thomas on a corner pattern for a four-yard touchdown pass. Thomas thought Hill was going inside and Hill broke back outside. A beautifully run pattern by Hill. It's 10 plays and 74 yards for the Cougs. WSU attempts a two-point conversion and Brink barely misses to tight end Cody Boyd in the back of the end zone. This is a big play in the game. USC 14, WSU 12

5:37- The half ends with the Trojans up 14-12.

5:38 - Trojan fans have a chance to catch their breath and the good news is the Trojan offense seems to be moving the ball. The bad news is the defense is being really challenged by a creative Cougar play-calling. There is the impression here that the first team to score 30 points will win the game. Due to the new possession rule that runs the clock after change of possession, this may be the game in which this rule plays a big part in the final outcome.

5:57 - Trojan fans ease the tension by checking other scores on their cell phones. One fan sees the Notre Dame final and mutters, "Notre Dame won. Those bastards."

6:02 - Third quarter begins with Trojans receiving. C.J. Gable returning the kick off, and the Trojans need to put a good drive together.

6:08 - The sun finally goes down putting Martin Stadium in shadows and the Trojans first offensive drive of the half also goes down in shadows.

6:16 - Cougars punt to Trojans and a big controversy ensues. Instant replay is put into play after the dispute of whether a punt by Blunt is a touchback or downed inside the Trojan 1-yard line. Trojans loose the appeal and we don't need to ask Carroll's opinion of instant replay.

6:22 - Freshman Emmanuel Moody lines up in the same backfield with Chauncey Washington and gets a counter-pitch after Booty fakes to Washington on an inside dive. Moody finds the nirvana of "space" and like a galloping stallion set free in the Paloose Country. Emmanuel winds and darts for 48-yards.

6:25 - On a critical fourth-and-10, Booty finds Smith for a critical 12 yards and a first down to keep the drive alive.

6:27- Nearing the end of the third quarter, Steve Smith strikes again with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Booty. The Trojans go 99 yards in nine plays. It was an awesome drive, which establishes Lane Kiffin's offense. USC 21, WSU 12.

6:29 - Freshman Allen Bradford is noticed on the kickoff team.

6:31- Public addresses announcer announces that today's game is an official sell out 35,117.

6:34 - The Cougars are on the march again. Michael Bumpus, doing his impression of Dwayne Jarrett, hauls in a 24-yard pass. The Cougars are finding the Trojan secondary to their liking.

6:39 - End of third quarter. This one looks like it's going down to the bitter end. USC 21, WSU 12

6:43- On the twelfth play of a 78- yard drive, Langley connects on his third field goal from 20-yards out. Looks like Loren has erased the doubts of Cougar fans, but field goals don't figure to win this game. USC 21. WSU 15

6:46 - A big controversy ensues on the kickoff as freshman Allen Bradford fumbles the ball and WSU appears to have recovered the ball in the red zone. One official signals that WSU has recovered, but lead referee Jay Stricherz says the Trojans have possession. On the sideline coach, Bill Doba appears to pass on challenging the call. It could be the play of the game.

6:48 - Public address announcer claims that Mozique McCurtis has made the tackle for the Cougars. The problem is that Mozique plays for the Trojans.

6:54 - On perhaps the play of the game thus far, the Trojans convert another fourth down call as Steve Smith makes another big play and gets a favorable spot for a first down. Who says this is not a game of inches? Cougar fans go crazy.

7:02 - Offensive right guard Chilo Rachal is limping badly. Emmanuel Moody makes a major rookie blunder with an apparent block to the back after Steve Smith hauls in a pass down to the Cougar two-yard line.

7:03 - Another big third down call for the Trojans, and Chauncey Washington gets the call and rumbles for eight dirty yards. Pete Carroll knows he has found his grunt work back.

7:04 - The Trojans attempt to apply the coup de gras as Booty finds Steve Smith in the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown. Danelo kicks the extra point and with 5:52 remaining, the Trojans look to put this one in the Northwest refrigerator. The drive takes 8:21 going 17 plays for 83 yards. The drive is a Mona Lisa of offensive power. USC 28, WSU 15

7:10 - Forget the "it's all over" chant as the Cougar offense is going through the Trojan defense like a hot knife through butter. Quarterback Alex Brink is starting to remind Trojan fans of the Vince Young miracle. Cougar receiver Brandon Gibson beats corner Kevin Thomas, just back off the injured reserve, for 25 yards.

7:14 - At the Trojans' 10, Cougars make a brilliant offensive call by throwing to Dwight Tardy in the flat, who is all alone and skips into the end zone. The Cougars take only 1:34 to go 80-yards in seven plays. USC 28, WSU 22

7:21- Referee Stricherz asks for a clock reset to 1:10. Every second counts at this point in the game, especially with the new possession rule and so much at stake.

7:23 - On fourth down, the Trojans are forced to punt from their own 40 and almost self-destruct as the ball is almost snapped over the head of USC punter Greg Woidneck. The sophomore makes a tremendous play and still gets off a 37-yard punt.

7:24- The Cougars have the ball for one final drive to win the game and they have about a minute to get it done. Is there anybody who thinks that can't do it?

7:26 - With the Cougars marching to the fifty, senior Trojan linebacker Dallas Sartz can't get his 6'5" frame to intercept Brink's pass to seal the game for the Trojans. The play is a reminder of the missed interception opportunity late in the fourth quarter against Texas, which could have brought the Trojans a third consecutive national title.

7:33 - The Trojans take no chances with 19 seconds remaining and double cover Michael Bumpus. A major penalty by WSU left guard Dan Rowlands helps the Trojan cause. We are coming to the moment of truth.

7:28 - With the ball on the Trojan 38-yard line, Brink has one last Hail Mary and wouldn't you know it, freshman Taylor Mays, who has learned his lessons throughout the game, comes up with the game-winning interception as time expires. What irony that a kid from Seattle makes the winning play against his home state. Final -USC 28, WSU 22

7:31- A tired USC team comes to the Trojan stands and gets a standing ovation as Pete Carroll hugs John David Booty.

7:33 - As the Trojan marching Band plays "Conquest," the entire Trojan team, to the man, looks dazed, some even shaking their heads, knowing that they escaped Pullman by the skin of their teeth.

7:34 - Trojan wide receiver Chris McFoy, who is dressed in Trojan black sweat clothes, has his left arm in a sling. It doesn't look good and it is the last thing Trojans need…another injury to a veteran offensive player.

7:38 - WSU fans are a angry as a bees nest that's been hit with a baseball bat. One angry Cougar fan yells, "You have the refs in your back pocket." A Trojan fan replies, "Anything it takes, buddy!"

10:45 - Arrive back at the Holiday Inn after surviving my own ordeal with an incredible traffic jam out of Pullman. It is a traffic jam that would rival any game out of the Rose Bowl. Also trying to get back to Spokane in the dark was challenging to say the least.

Sunday, Oct. 1

12:10 a.m.- Watch ESPN Game Day crew do a review of the top teams in the country. Their consensus is that the Trojans are in the top five, but not in the top two, It would not shock the O/NSO if the Trojans dropped in the USA Today Coaches Poll and the AP Poll.

2:10 p.m.- Leave for home but not before the plane from Phoenix to Orange County is taken off the runway due to some technical problems. You know this routine as we sit and wait and wait just like Pete Carroll waits for an instant replay result.

9:05 – Finally arrive home and get to work to get our loyal readers the facts.

The Obvious – Next week the Trojans return to the Coliseum for just their second home game of the season against a resurgent Washington Huskies' program.

The Not So Obvious – So how good are the Trojans? Well, good enough to be 4-0, but without the domination. There is clearly work to be done, but with the return of Sedrick Ellis and Dwayne Jarrett, help is on the way. For now, Trojan fans can use some down time and what's all this noise about the cool, grim Northwest weather? Balderdash.

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