The Not So Obvious – Who would have thought when the Trojans finally were able to sack the quarterback six times, this would be the day when so many streaks would fall like Beavers cutting down trees? So, just when you expected to hear a Vince Scully say, "The Trojans magic number has been reduced to five games," the real question becomes "where do we go from here?" That will be answered in the coming weeks, but this past weekend wasn't a total loss as many Trojans made their way to the Pacific Northwest as did the O/NSO On The Road with the Cardinal and Gold.
Friday, Oct. 27
5:30 a.m. – Like the sound and intensity of Trojan linebacker coach Ken Norton's voice at practice, the alarm clock said it's "game time – woo, woo, woo, woo." We must admit, we were fast asleep dreaming of little Travelers taking touchdown laps around the Coliseum turf. The sound of the "vocal" alarm surprised us as much as a first down run by the Trojans.
5:45 – After a quick shave, we try to quietly head downstairs as not to disturb the beauty sleep of the Helen of Troy of the O/NSO household, know as Mrs. O/NSO, who last night said, "Well, see you on Sunday." Oh, that female humor gets us every time. Check the Portland weather and it indicates that it should be a bit cool upon our morning arrival. Our dog, Molly, senses it's time for another wonderful WeAreSC.com roadie.
6:00 – You know the routine, O/NSO readers, it's oat bran and cinnamon bread. You know, folks, everything at this point is a routine. Let me digress, when a guy is younger, his priorities are sex, eating, and bodily functions. When he begins to reach the "Golden Years," it reverses itself like a Emmanuel Moody cut. It becomes bodily functions, eating, and then sex. Hopefully, the Trojan team won't suffer a football mid-life crisis in the final six games of its 2006 "Golden Years."
6:40 – Head for John Wayne Airport and thank heavens it's less than ten minutes away. Get off the 405 and head for the parking structure located next to Ticketing. Forced to call a John David Booty audible as the main structure level is full and we must adjust like a Dwayne Jarrett pass pattern to the top level. Hey, isn't this part of the fun, campers? We begin to have visions of long ticket lines and long security lines.
7:00 – As a welcome surprise like a long Chauncey Washington sprint through a secondary, both the ticket and security lines are about as short as riding Dumbo at Disneyland at the park's early opening. Good thing the O/NSO checked the night before only to learn that our American Airlines flight was really an Alaska Airlines flight owned and operated by American. Whew! With little fanfare, we head to Gate 10, obviously in honor of John David Booty's jersey number, where we are again greeted by the friendly smiles of Mr. and Mrs. Nick Sanchez, parents of Trojan backup signal-caller, Mark Sanchez. Nick must know he is going up to "cold" country, as this is one of the few times that both of us aren't wearing shorts onto the plane.
7:30 – Time to board Alaska Flight No. 6917 and the first thing we notice in the plane is the seats are leather and have that "first-class" look. Since we have never flown with the "rich kids," this is a real treat and we have our window seat to boot. We're feeling as good as when we watched Sam Dickerson make that fateful catch against UCLA in the last minute in 1969.
7:48 – Unreal, we actually take off only three minutes late. The plane is full of Trojans and as we walked on board, the flight attendant actually said, "Well, we might as well call this the Trojan plane."
8:15 – We're sitting next to a guy named Richard, a retired high school teacher from Michigan, who is living in south Orange County. Richard is a hardcore Detroit Tiger and Piston fan and talk about the days of Al Kaline and Denny McClain, two of the Tigers' all-time greats. Richard says he loves the NBA so much that he bought one of those TV league passes that allows him to see all the games on cable. He gets fired up when we tell him we had a small hand in the career of former Piston center Bill Laimbeer in a summer league we use to administer.
8:40 – Richard loves college football and asks me if the Trojans can go undefeated. He wants the O/NSO to give him the scoop. We tell Richard that it is our opinion that the Trojans can win out, but the schedule suggests that it will be very hard to do, considering the Cardinal and Gold's play the past month. He seems to appreciate the honesty, as painful as it is at times to be forthcoming.
10:00 – It is sooooo foggy outside, nobody even expects us to have landed until we actually feel touchdown of the plane's wheels in Portland. Fighting the remains of a stubborn virus, our ears are so plugged it feels like we have been standing next to the crowd amplifier at Howard Jones Field. You talk about pressure.
10:30 – Pick up our compact Malibu National Car rental from an off-airport site, which actually takes us closer to our hotel. Let me tell ya, folks, it's really foggy and mighty cold up here in the Great Northwest. Mr. Sun better be making an appearance shortly. Thanks goodness we don't have to check the Coliseum temperature clock to get a reading. Seriously, it's cold. The National transportation fella tells us that it has been pretty grim the last couple of days, but it's suppose to be a beautiful weekend. The cold air is about as numbing as getting hit by Rey Maualuga.
11:00 – Find our way to the Four Points Sheraton located on 182nd St. The good news is that it's very close to the freeway that will help lead us to Corvallis. The bad news is that we can't check in until 3:00 p.m. Didn't have this problem on our road trip to Tucson, but what's the rush? We are told by a friendly receptionist at the desk that they were booked completely on Thursday night and needed to clean rooms. Well, the Trojans' Portland Rally at the Heathman Hotel in downtown doesn't start until 6:00 p.m., so it's kind of like being at the Coliseum four hours before kickoff. The receptionist recommends that if we have a car, it's only 15 minutes to downtown. However, she says getting back is 45 minutes due to the rush hour traffic. No thanks. One trip up and back is enough for us and we have enough rush hour traffic in SoCal.
12:00 p.m. – As exciting as the Trojans coming out of the Coliseum tunnel, the sun finally makes an appearance. Off goes the WeAreSC company jacket and what we have here is Portland's version of unpredictable Chicago weather.
> 12:15 – Since we haven't eaten since 6:30, it's time for food. What better way to celebrate than to eat at the next door Burger King. We go with our standard side salad with Ranch and a whopper without cheese. The folks look at my USC shirt and out come the mixed reactions. Well, you've go to admit, it's certainly an attention getting device.
2:30 – After cruising up and down 182nd St. with a trip to local Albertsons to get some sweets to keep the energy level up (mini Milanos and HIT cookies if you must know), we are finally able to check in at the Four Points and are assigned Room 218. Did we mention that we took a good friend of ours on the trip. Yes, Ms. Laptop, who will provide some room entertainment. She performs beautifully and makes no complaint about being plugged into the wall socket. Now special kudos go out to the showerhead in Room 218. Don't know about you, but there is nothing worse than a bad showerhead in a hotel. It's equivalent to bad kickoff and punt coverage and Trojan fans don't want to go there. There is a microwave and a refrigerator and who could ask for more, especially with the pleasure of Ms. Laptop. In fact, Mrs. O/NSO even encouraged the relationship, especially after the Pullman trip when we dictated to her much of the action for our column.
3:00 – Unpack and we're pleased to divulge that we even brought two pre-bagged packages of oat bran from home, as well as four slices of cinnamon bread. Yes, the O/NSO is officially anal about everything except covering USC football.
3:10 – Go on Yahoo to get directions to the Heathman Hotel and we learn that the Heathman restaurant features Executive Chief Philippe Boulot, winner of the 2001 James Beard Award for Excellence. Ya, big deal, it ain't back-to-back Heisman awards, baby.
4:00 – Big story in the Corvallis Gazette-Times is how the Trojans coming to Corvallis is like the circus coming to town. According to SID Steve Fenk, over 40 credentials to media have been issued, double the amount of OSU's previous game against Cal in the Pac-10 opener in September. Fenks said, "That's the biggest difference, the national exposure."
5:00 – Decide it's time to head over to the Heathman Hotel.
5:20 – You want to talk traffic? I say, do want to talk traffic, mister? Let me tell ya, if you're going to Beaverton, it looks like the downtown LA at 5:00.pm. The good news is that we are headed into town and not out of town for the weekend. Downtown Portland very much looks like an eastern city with the bridges and twin rivers. There are historic park areas in the middle of town and Broadway is the main street that seems to remind us of Michigan Avenue in Chicago.
5:55 – Arrive at the Heathman Hotel, a facility that reeks of old Portland from the front of the building to the costumed doorman dressed in what looks like a British sort of way. In the lobby, there are Trojans heading upstairs to the pep rally and eating area. A Trojan is discussing the game with his daughters and says, " There are two sides to my thoughts on this game. One side tells me that we should crush Oregon State. The other side tells me we haven't crushed anybody since the opening game of the season." And haven't we heard this before?
> 6:10 – A USC Alumni Association official tell us that all tickets have been sold for the event. We introduce ourselves and say we are here covering the event for WeAreSC.com and this fella gets as excited as a kid on Christmas morning. In fact, he says he reads our site all the time and then says to go inside and take all the pictures we'd like. It's nice to be loved.
6:20 – Check out the white board ticket exchange, which tells who wants to buy and sell tickets to tomorrow's game. Fans seem to look at the board like some symbol of insurance in case something goes wrong.
6:45 – Another official tells the O/NSO that all 130 rally tickets have been sold and that tomorrow, four busses will depart to Corvallis for the game. All in all, the whole party has been a major success and all money taken in will go to scholarships for students. Good deal.
7:00 – Women in an all black outfit screams, "Go Beavers!" All eyes turn towards her, but there are no responses from the Trojan faithful. The women seems to have had too much firewater flowing in her Oregon body. She comes up and begins a conversation saying she knows the Trojan fight song because her best friend went to USC. We ask her if she has ever heard of Bill "Earthquake" Enyart, a super Beaver fullback from the 1967 Giant Killer team of Dee Andros. She says she has never heard of him. Wow, this lady is definitely a Beaver poser.
7:30 – Walk about six blocks down Broadway to meet some friends, Brad and Laura, who have invited us to join them for dinner at El Gaucho, one of America's most celebrated steak establishments. When I get there, there is no Brad or Laura and the receptionist at El Gaucho says she does not see their name on her guest list. She double checks and says there is nobody with our party's name.
7:40 – Brad and Laura arrive with their son, Greg, and his friend and Laura makes her case with the El Gaucho receptionist and everything works out fine. In fact, El Gaucho offers their apology and arranges for our party to have some free "spirits" and appetizers.
8:10 – Dinner is simply wonderful and all agree that the joint lives up to its billing and notoriety. It's nice to go to a restaurant that lives up its ranking. Trojan football is the main course of conversation and when the food is served, we are ready to rock and roll. Your hungry scribe decides on half-roasted chicken, since we generally don't eat streak. We are forgiven by Brad and Laura for our steak-to-chicken request.
10:00 – Depart for the most dangerous part of the evening, trying to drive our way back to Gresham through all those one-way streets and various freeway conglomerates. With some heavy prayers and some luck, we finally find the on-ramp to the freeway, which was your basic tourist nightmare. Trying to make our way corrently through the bridges reminds us of trying to do the same thing with the Tri-borough Bridge in New York City.
11:00 – Arrive safely back at the Four Points and begin to work and process the day's activities for the O/NSO. Decide to turn on the news to see if I can get some sports news about the game, but all that's shown are the various prep football game highlights in the area. None of the teams highlighted look ready for Oaks Christian or Mater Dei.
Saturday, Oct. 28
12:30 a.m. – Well, having done our nightly WeAreSC work, we call the front deks to make sure we get our 6:45 wake-up call.
6:45 – Didn't we just talk about the wake-up call? Wowzers! Can't believe it is already time to get up. Decide to close our eyes a "little bit" and we pay the price as we re-awake at 7:30. Call it bad clock management and our apologies to ASU's Dirk Koetter.
7:45 – So much for being on the road by 8:00 as recommended by veteran scribes of the Pac-10 beat. Open my first homemade bag of oat bran brought from home, along with a microwave dish, and the breakfast comes out super, We also fire up some of that cinnamon bread to make it a home field advantage.
8:25 – We're about to leave, but ESPN GameDay is about to do a feature on the trials and rewards of John David Booty and the "issues" with this year's Trojans. Nothing is said that hasn't been said before. This team is not getting turnovers, Booty has had his challenges replacing Matt Leinart, and teams are not fearing the Cardinal and Gold.
> 8:35 – Walk outside of the Four Points and it's totally foggy and the temp is 38 degrees. Hello Fog Bowl ll. We love challenges, but not weather challenges like this. Ten minutes into the trip, we see cars with Oregon Duck logos. Ducks are playing mighty Portland St. in Eugene at 4:00 p.m. Fog clears a little and we see a sign for Milwaukee. Heck, have we ended up in Wisconsin?
9:00 – It is rather disappointing not to be able to see much scenery during the outset of the trip. Turn on the radio and listen to Fan radio, an obvious ESPN outlet. One of the hosts, Gavin Dawson, says he is sick of the USC dynasty, which to him is like the Dallas Cowboys in their prime. Dawson says, "Enough is enough. These Trojans have weakness in their armor. Booty is no (Carson) Palmer, but he is serviceable." It's still foggy on the road and our car temp says 45 degrees outside.
9:15 – Sign says, "Linn, Grass seed capital of the world." Okay, but it's not as impressive one that says Williamette Winery. Cars seem to low down when they see that sign.
9:57 – Get off at Exit 228 and it's now 43 degrees and very foggy. We don't like the looks of this. It's a ten-mile ride into Corvallis from the freeway and the sights are sheep and agriculture.
> 10:15 – Local gas station is listing regular as $2.48 a gallon. Think we just went over a bridge, but it's so foggy we couldn't tell. One thing we have noticed on the drive is quickly the speed signs can change. It can go from 60 to 55 to 45 miles per hour in a blink.
10:20 – Drive right by Reser Stadium and can barely see it. We decide to find a parking spot close to the stadium. Wow, people are using their front lawns for people to park and it reminds me when dad would take us to Dodger games a the Coliseum and we would park behind Martin Luther King Blvd., but it wasn't call that back in 1959. Kid says they charge $25 or $20 to park, depending if you want easy access out once the game is over. He notices we are a reporter and says he will give me a $20 dollar deal. Hey, if he knew $20 is what the Trojans charge, he probably wouldn't think he was such a businessman.
10:30 – Walk to stadium in time to see the Oregon State team busses pull up just across the street from Gill Coliseum, home of the Beaver basketball teams. Strangely enough, the Beavers' lockers are in the football stadium while the Trojans dress in the basement of Gill Coliseum and must walk across the street with the fans to enter Reser Stadium. FYI, the Beaver team sure doesn't look anything special, but we have learned it's not what they look like but how they play. Head coach Mike Riley is all smiles and looks like a very confident. Maybe it's all those recent close wins by the Trojans that have inspired Riley and his team.
10:40 - While waiting for the Trojan busses, decide to step inside Gill Coliseum to see what it looks like in person after having watched so many game from there on television. It really has that old look inside and the Beaver women's team is practicing. There are picture high up on the walls of such Beaver greats as A.C. Green, Mel Counts, and legendary coach Ralph Miller.
10:45 – Run into the usual cast of characters from Trojan practices. There is Ed and Candy Bubar waiting for the team as is the wife of Trojan secondary coach Rocky Seto, whose little daughter is cutely dressed in Trojan attire.
10:58 – An Oregon State official starts yelling, "They're coming; they're coming!" An obvious reference to the Trojans' team busses. You have thought the guy was doing a Halloween impression of Paul Revere. The Trojan arrive and there are very few smiles on the players' faces. Either the lads are game ready or they are just plain cold. With this group, you can never quite tell. As the Trojans descend down a ramp into the underground lockers, an OSU fan keeps yelling through a megaphone, "No personal fouls, no personal fouls."
11:17 – Buy a game program for $5 and the cover is of OSU tight end Joe Newton. Called Gameday, the program is 133 pages, but has no team pictures of the Trojans. You know, we're beginning to see a pattern when the Trojans play away. The program, while colorful, is not well constructed. We can tell you that we have yet to see a Pac-10 program that remotely compares to the Trojans Coliseum editions.
11:25 – The OSU mascot, Benny Beaver, poses with Trojan fans and the cardinal and gold boosters seem to be getting a kick out of this Rocky of Rocky and Bullwinkle look-a-like. Members of the OSU band plays a short set of tunes just outside the stadium.
11:32 – Pete Carroll is lead across the street by two of Oregon's finest. Now Carroll's know what is was like to be Alabama's Bear Bryant.
11:34 – The game public address announcer welcomes fans that are already into Reser Stadium and invites those fans to watch the Jumbotron pregame show. Only problem is there aren't very many fans inside.
11:34 – Special teams coach Sam Anno escorts his unit across the street. Mark Radovich, father of Drew, tells the O/NSO of his playing days at Arizona State and the poor locker rooms he visited.
> 11:38 – Showing that former Santa Ana Foothill star stick together, WR Brad Walker and fullback Mike Brittingham walk across the street together. Moments earlier, another Trojan player mumbles, "It's cold out here." The OSU cheerleaders do some cheers just outside the players' entrance from across the street. Truth is, they're no USC Song Girls.
11: 47 – A fan of WeAreSC comes up to us and asks what kind of offense we expect to see. Well, we tell the friendly fellow that we expect to see the bulk of the running this afternoon go to Chauncey Washington, but quarterback John David Booty will probably open it up today because we believe the Trojan coaches will want to build confidence in Booty quickly.
11:50 – Run into former Oregon State 6-11 basketball center Steve Johnson, who might have been a Trojan had there been a Galen Events Center during his senior year at San Gorgonio. Johnson spent some time in the NBA and was getting some love from the Beaver fans.
11:52 – Former All-Pac defensive tackle Bill Swancutt is recognized by three Oregon policemen who yell out, "Swannie!" Trojan fans remember quite well what a great player this man was a couple of years ago. He really was a Shaun Cody for OSU. We know this, the Trojans didn't have an answer for "Swannie" when he played against the Cardinal and Gold.
11:54 – Trojan fans, realizing their heroes must walk across the street to get into Reser Stadium, congregate near the outside player entrance. Ya think the Thundering Herd spirit group would mind standing in the Coliseum tunnel when the Men of Troy come out?
12:07 p.m. – If you think the parents of Trojan parents get the good seats on away games, think again. Parents do get free tickets, but their seats on the road can be no better than any other Trojan fan on some occasions. Most are located this afternoon in the lower level in Section 8. Some of the parents are as low as Row 2. BTW, Section 8 is in the east end zone corner. A very small number of the Trojan Marching Band are in attendance. How small? Just one tuba. Let's hear it for the tubas, er, tuba.
12:12 – Dennis Slutak, director of Trojan football operations, is annoyed that the running backs are doing their standard huddle dance as Slutak wants them to report immediately to their next warmup station.
12:14 – A Trojan fan uses his cell phone to tell his friends that "the fog has lifted, the fog has lifted." Another Paul Revere is born. We notice that this artificial field does not have much of a crown for drainage. This means it should be good for passers but not as good for ball carriers running down hill.
12:20 – Trojan team runs over to the Section 8 to bond with parents and fans.
12:29 – Interesting that some of the new upper stands are not filled with fans. Also interesting is that the high-priced suites are at the very top of the new side of the stadium. You'd think they would have built such expensive suites much lower. Many of those seats above have "rowed" seating like the outdoors. Thank goodness for our vertigo that we weren't "invited" to sit there.
12:31 – Decide to do our consumer concession report. Hot dogs ($5), bratwurst ($5), chips ($1.50), a Beaver Burger ($6.50), and soda or water ($3). No beer is sold except on that fancy third level. Weather is now cool, still no sun, and the stadium lights are on.
12:38 – Beaver team comes onto the field through an inflatable OSU helmet and accompanied by fireworks. Beaver team "rocks" the helmet before entering the field.
12:39 – Trojans enter the field as the official coin toss is taking place. Reser Stadium becomes a madhouse. Something tells us that this isn't going to be easy. Maybe it was how relaxed Beaver coach Mike Riley looked during his team's entrance into the stadium hours earlier.
12:42 – Troy Van Blarcom kicks off and in a bad sign, the ball is returned 30 yards to the OSU 31-yard line.
12:46 – OSU's Matt Moore, almost sacked by Trojan defensive end Lawrence Jackson, throws a "shovel" pass to RB Clinton Polk for a big gain as Moore, the former UCLA quarterback, starts the game on fire. The good news is Nick Holt's defense is getting closer to the quarterback.
12:51 – On third-and-goal at the Trojan 1, Matt Moore makes it look easy by sweeping to his right and sprinting into the end zone. In the process, Moore almost gets his head taken off by a rabid Trojan defender. Beavers move 69 yards in 10 plays. PAT is good. Trojans look totally on their hills and one can completely agree that OSU has prepared very well for their dual with Pete Carroll's lads. Is this going to be the shootout that Trojan fans have feared? The sky looks very ominous and there appears to be storm clouds above for the Men of Troy. OSU 7, USC 0
12:55 – C.J. Gable makes a fine return of 23 yards on the ensuing kickoff, aided by a good block by walk-on Brad Walker.
12:58 – Although still appearing bothered by a tender ankle, senior receiver Steve Smith serves notice that he is ready to compete by hauling in a 58-yard reception from Booty.
12:59 – Disaster strikes again for the Trojans as John David Booty's end zone pass intended for Dwayne Jarrett is either intercepted or taken out of the hands of Jarrett by Bryan Peyton and the Trojans blow a golden opportunity. The interception is returned to the Trojans' 48-yard line.
1:02 – Trojans almost return an interception favor as freshman Taylor Mays almost intercepts a Matt Moore pass. In a season of near misses, these are the type that can come back to haunt you that this point of the schedule.
1:05 – Trojan make a great defensive stand and finish by blocking an Alexis Serna 20-yard field goal attempt. These are also the plays that can come back to be a turning point.
1:13 – During a TV break in the action, the Reser Stadium public address announcer give a trivia question that can be answered by answering by text messaging. In remarkable coincidence, not, the question asks who made the big tackle of O.J. Simpson on the Beavers' big 1967 unset of the then No. 1 Trojans? Shhhh. The answer is defensive tackle Jess Lewis.
1:14 – Beaver star receiver Sammie Stroughter makes a big catch and gain, beating Terrell Thomas, who seems to be a target in Mike Riley's game plan. The Trojans continue to have problems keeping Matt Moore in the pocket.
1:19 – Beavers are forced to punt and the Trojans punt returner, Desmond Reed, is absolutely drilled by the Beavers' very physical Sabby Piscitelli. Now Desmond, we all know you're as tough as nails, but that's taking a little too much punishment, my man.
1:21 – First quarter comes to an end and the public address announcer reminds fans to set their clocks for Pacific Standard Time and to place new batteries in their smoke alarms. The only thing on fire right now is the Beaver offense, although the Trojans trail by only seven. You know, we're starting to wonder if Pete Carroll's team feels any sense of urgency, although it's still early. OSU 7, USC 0
1:23 – On second-and-12 at the Trojan 40, Steve Smith shows some urgency with a nifty 17-yard reception to the Beavers' 40 yard line. If he keeps this up, Mr. Smith might have one of his biggest days.
1:27 – We have our first replay of the game when there is a challenge of a Dwayne Jarrett reception and an offside penalty on the Beavers. The Beavers win the challenge and then the Trojans are allowed to take the penalty. See, this is what we call litigation, gridiron style.
1:37 – Following some tough love running by C.J. Gable and Chauncey Washington, Washington uses the blocks of Sam Baker and Drew Radovich allow CW to weave his way into the end zone for a two-yard score. Take that, Beavers. Trojans march 58 yards in 10 plays, using 5:15 on the clock. John McKay would be pleased. Mario Danelo hits the extra point. The few member of the Trojan Marching Band that made the trip play "Conquest" and everything is again normal in the college football world. Oh, did we mention that the public address just announced that Ed Orgeron's Ole Miss club lost again. USC 7, OSU 7
1:36 – After OSU WR Sammie Stroughter gets by Trojan defensive back Terrell Thomas for a 14-yard pickup, the Trojans' defense attempts to bring some heat and moments later, DT Fili Moala sacks Moore, prompting a Trojan fan to yell, "Finally a sack!" Maybe Fili turns out to be the spark for a quarterback sack party at Matt Moore's house.
1:47 – The Trojans' defense stiffens and OSU's 2005 Lou Groza Award winning kicker, Alexis Serna kicks 47-yard field goal. The Beavers go 41 yards in nine plays, and one gets the impression that the black and orange are a threat from the fifty on in. OSU 10, USC 7
1:49 – Taking a page out of the Coliseum home script, OSU cheerleaders use a giant slingshot to hurl T-shirts into the stands, much to the delight of those few that are in range.
1:52 – Noooooooo, Mr. Bill. Trojans fumble on their next possession and the ball is recovered by OSU's Isaiah Cook, who apparently understands Pete Carroll's "It's all about the ball." This Trojans will sooner or later ride into the sunset if they continue to cough up the football like we haven't seen in the Pete Carroll era.
1:53 – Wasting little time from the Trojans' 26, a second down pass to Stroughter picks up 23 more yards to the USC 3-yard line, the ghost of former sportscaster Ronald Reagan can be heard saying, "Well, there you go again!"
1:54 – All hands on deck and, yes, and the Trojans "go again and again" as Matt Moore is dropped twice in a row by DE Lawrence Jackson and then LB Keith Rivers. Trojan fans are in nirvana over the quarterback sack attack. Let's face it, it's been a long time for all concerned.
1:56 – With the Beavers drive stalled, Alexis Serna delivers a 31-yard field goal and OSU converts on the Trojan turnover. Well, how difficult is it to score when you only need six plays to move just 12 yards to be in a position to score? One thing becoming quite evident in this game is that Serna is going to be a major weapon throughout the afternoon. The Trojans may not be able to dodge the bullet today and in the immortal words of actor Al Pacino, "Oooo, ah, we're just getting started!" OSU 13, USC 6
2:01 – Please, mother, don't turn off the lights, it's get scary in here as Chauncey Washington fumbles and OSU takes over at the Trojan 40-yard line. If there is no "crying in baseball," then there is no fumbling allowed as a Trojan taiback. Apparently Trojan linebacker Dallas Sartz is a little ticked over the Trojan turnovers and takes matters into his own hands and sacks Matt Moore as the USC band plays "Another Bites The Dust." You know, Trojan fans would love to hear that little diddy some more throughout the day.
2:02 – On the Trojan sideline, backup quarterback Mark Sanchez gets in some throwing work with Steve Smith. Perhaps it's a matter of both Trojans trying to stay loose or maybe, just maybe. Quiet on the set, it's just not what you're thinking, but you are thinking, aren't you?
2:03 – Have you already heard the name Alexis Serna more than you would like? Well, campers, little Alexis stuns both sidelines with a monster 53-yard field goal and there is no such thing as "range" for Mr. Serna. Okay, the Beavers "march" 44 yards in four plays to allow Serna to launch a cannon shot that sends Reser Stadium into a high level of upset confidence. OSU 16, USC 7
2:07 – Following the TV timeout and a Beaver touchback, isn't it time for the Trojans to find out who they are at this point in the season? Tailback Chauncy Washington stands up by taking a screen pass 14 yards to the Trojans' 34-yard line. Receiver Steve Smith stands up with a 12-yard reception and the Trojans are moving, but the clock is also moving towards halftime.
2:14 – In what sums it all up to this point, Booty tries to hit Dwayne Jarrett in the end zone, but the All-American is double-covered by Sabby Piscitelli and Keenan Lewis. Oh, one other issue, Jarrett can't hold on to Booty's pass, just a minor issue
2:15 – With 0:08 left in the half, the Trojans own kicking weapon, Mario Danelo, pumps some life into his team by converting on a 29-yard field goal and isn't something better than nothing. The Trojans take seven plays to eat up 68 yards. While the points are important, field goals will only win this game if you spend enough opportunities to gather enough of them. OSU 16, USC 10
2:18 – The half ends on a squib kick by Troy Van Blarcom and suddenly the sun comes out. Maybe it's just what the Trojan needed heading into their across-the-street lockers. There is a strange sense amongst Trojan fans that this may be the day the "the music died." OSU 16, USC 10
2:25 – A number of WeAreSC subscribers come up and ask what is wrong with this team. Well, we pull a Howard Cosell and answer the question with a question: "What do you think?" They all agree there are way too many mistakes and turnovers. Interestingly enough, there is no real mention of coaching blunders and you won't get an argument form here, as well. This Trojan team needs to find a sense of urgency and perhaps a "soul" or foundational leadership. You just don't get the sense this team really believes the season isn't just about the final four games. OSU has the means and the motive to take this game down to the wire. Who will step up both on offense and defense for the Cardinal and Gold?
2:30 – Make a big mistake and buy two hot dogs because we noticed the buns are big and this will keep us from getting hungry later. We hate to say it, but these "dogs" are a poor second to the ones at the Coliseum. We decide to save the potato chips for dessert.
2:34 – The public address plays a song with the lyric "Step Your Game Up." How true it is going to have to be for Pete Carroll and the Trojans.
2:36 – The Trojans return to the field and head towards the end zone of Trojan fans. A number of players drop to one knee and say a silent prayer and look to the heavens. They are probably being joined by the massive following of Trojan fans watching this one on FSN. In fact, wonder what old Petros is saying at this point? The good news is that the Men of Troy will receive the kickoff and it should be interesting to see the halftime adjustments. This is becoming a topic of conversation amongst the faithful this season. There is the school of thought that things aren't as sharp coming out of halftime as in past seasons.
2:39 – Okay, it's time for those famed second half adjustments as the Beavers kickoff to the Trojans to begin the second half. Here's one adjustment you can't do, the kickoff goes into the end zone and the Trojans will start from their own 20-yard line.
2:43 – Trojans can't do a darn thing and punter Greg Woidneck is called in to do his thing. It's that kind of day as the usual reliable Woidneck boots it 24 yards thanks to a reverse bounce that seems to sum up the afternoon for the Cardinal and Gold up to this point. As we were saying about those adjustments…
2:46 – It doesn't take much to get the Beaver crowd in a frenzy and the Jumbotron does a fan cam, flashing pictures of the loyalists from kissing to face making. It's as big a hit as the current score of the game.
2:47 – Zap! Just like that Sammie Stroughter does it again, beating Cary Harris for a huge 37-yard gain. Stroughter, just a junior, has made a believer of the old O/NSO. This kid is really good. Don't look now, but the Beavers are now on the Trojans' 20-yard line.
2:50 – With first-and-goal at the SC 8, Mr. Coverboy, tight end Joe Newton, uses his 6-7 frame to snag a touchdown pass from Matt Moore. Poor Terrell Thomas. Terrell, who goes 6-1, really had a mismatch, the kind the Trojans like to use with 6-5 Dwayne Jarrett. PAT is good as Beavers dissect the Trojans' defense for 59 yards in six plays. OSU 23, USC 10
2:51 – Trojan fans in Section 8 have a glazed look on their faces and you can and you can add a look of disgust while you're at it. This is as foreign to these fans as Oregon was once to Lewis and Clark.
2:53 – Alexis Serna's kickoff goes into the end zone and doesn't it seem when a team is on a roll, the kicker seems to showcase the whole club's growing confidence by booting it out of the end zone?
2:55- It's another third down situation for the Trojans. At the Coliseum, when it's third down, the video board plays the sound of a gong to get the crowd going. At Reser Stadium, they play the sound of a chainsaw starting up. It's been played a lot so far and we're getting feel as though we are part of one of those Texas Chainsaw movies.
2:57 – Forget the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it's now Nightmare on Elm Street for Trojan fans. Sudden Sammy Stroughter takes a Woidneck punt and goes around the left side of the lacking Trojan special teams coverage for a 70-yard punt return score. Somebody call the National Guard, there is complete chaos now in Reser Stadium. If it was in Los Angeles, folks would be heading to the exits. PAT is good. If it ain't over, it's pretty darn close. It will take one of the Trojans' all-time comebacks to pull this baby out. OSU 30, USC 10
3:00 – You want complete torture? Chauncey Washington fumbles again and the Beavers, of course, recover.
3:04 – It' now an angry Trojan defense led by Lawrence Jackson and Nick Holt's group shows some pride in stopping the Beavers. Unfortunately, they can't stop Alexis Serna from his fourth field goal, a modest 20-yard conversion. In five plays, OSU goes 22 yards before the SC defense stiffens.No, that' not crickets in the background, it's the sound of remotes in Los Angeles changing the channel. OSU 33, USC 10
3:10 – After a furious display of pass receptions by Steve Smith (33 yds.) and Patrick Turner (30 yds.), the Trojans elect to go for it on fourth-and-goal at the Beaver 10. Is there anybody who thinks the Trojans should kick a field goal? Nope, Pete Carroll wants the big one now, but the pass to Steve Smith goes incomplete. Was it the right move? Only time will tell.
3:12 – Well you have to give Mike Riley some props, he's still passing, even if incompletions stop the clock. The O/NSO would have milked some clock with a big lead.
3:16 – The Trojan come to life as Troy takes advantage of a botched OSU punt deep in Beaver territory and Fred Davis grabs a nicely thrown 4-yard touchdown reception and suddenly the SC band is into "Conquest" and most believe it's been a long time coming. PAT is good. OSU 33, USC 17
3:18 – The third quarter ends, but the Trojans have hope, at least Fox Sport Net has switched to another game. You know that Petros, doing the analyzing with Barry Tompkins, is going wild inside the booth. How confident are the Beavers? The public address system gives out basketball season ticket information and lists all the attractive schools coming to Gill Coliseum and leaves the Trojans out. OSU 33, USC 17
3:27 – The fourth quarter begins with the Trojans' defense feeling desperation and they shut down the Beavers. The offense takes a cue and Steve Smith, who is having a career day, saves the bacon again with a big 37-yard scoring reception and silence goes throughout Reser Stadium. Where's Al Michaels? Do you believe in miracles? Trojans show courage, of course they had to, and go for a two-point conversion. Chauncey Washington goes right down Coravllis Blvd. for the two points. The "nostalgic" Trojan offense takes just three plays to advance 64 yards. OSU 33, USC 24
3:29 – Trojan fans start S-O-U-T-H-E-R-N C-A-L-I-F-O-R-N-I-A spellout and Reser is as quiet as an Easter service.
3:31 – As we were saying about kickers reflecting the team's confidence, Troy Van Blarcom nails a touchback as SC fans begin the "defense" chant.
3:39 – The public address announcer says today's attendance is 42,871. It's not a record, but those Beaver fans that didn't show may regret what could be one of the biggest moments in the program's history. However, the highlight of the moment may be the two fans in the very highest corner of the stadium have been watching the game with their shirts off and how cold does it have to be not to do that?
3:41 – OSU tries to rebound and drives the deep into Trojan territory, but the Men of Troy hold, but now it's time for Mr. You-Know-Who, Alexis Serna, who can put the dagger in the Trojan hopes by converting a 41-yard attempt. With the Trojan crowd chanting "LSU", a game in which Serna missed on a number of tries against the Tigers to cost his team, Alexis does an "LSU" and the Trojan have a final gasp with 5:51 remaining.
3:42 – Reverting to their "balanced" offense, the Trojans attempt three straight passes and can't compete one of them and must punt.
3:54 – Trojans get a mammoth break when Alexis Serna is about to try yet another field goal when the Beavers are called for a false start, forcing OSU to punt. This could be the last break of breaks for the Cardinal and Gold. OSU punt goes into the end zone for a touchback. The Trojans are 80 yards from a potential miracle.
3:56 – With 2:39 remaining, Dwayne Jarrett makes an All-America grab for 32 yards and the Trojans are in business at the Beavers' 48.
4:01 – In a play that will be reviewed, Steve Smith, again, comes up big with a stunning 22-yard reception to the OSU 18-yard line. My goodness is this kid playing like the best receiver on the team? You betchya.
4:06 – The moment, the time, the comeback. Smith again gets free on second-and-goal on the OSU 2 for a touchdown grab after hand-to-hand combat with the Beaver defender. The Trojans show they "have it" by going 80 yards in ten plays. Now for just one slight issue; the good guys still are two points away from tying it and sending this sucker into overtime. OSU 33, USC 31
4:08 – In a moment when it seems like time stands still, the Trojans attempt a two-point conversion, something they completed earlier with Chauncey Washington taking right up the middle. Dwayne Jarrett is being covered one-on-one and you know where John David Booty is going. Booty drops back and looks left in the direction of No. 8., but Jarrett is heavily covered and not open, but Booty instinctively unleashes his momentous pass, but as has happened over the course of his career in games and in practices, the ball is batted down, this time by Beaver right end Jeff Van Orsow. Hide the razorblades. Tuck away any rope. Secure the medicine cabinet. Lastly, put down the Al Michaels Miracle on Ice DVD. OSU 33, USC 31
4:09 – With an orange and black tsunami of students crashing onto the field, the public address announcer pleads with the fans to get off the field. The game is not over. It is a security nightmare. The officials throw a flag, but this one is in the history books. Trojans attempt an onside kick that fails and fans again charge the field.
4:10 – The public address announcer comes again, but this time to countdown the remaining time as this one goes is a done deal. OSU 33, USC 31
4:11 – Trojan fans in Section 8 sit stunned and appear to be resolved that the better team won today. The previous three victories by the Trojans foreshadowed the inevitable.
4:25 – Warned about the post game traffic leaving Corvallis , we head for our car, only to find out that we left our lights on and the rental is as dead as the final score in Reser. It's a bad day for Trojans all around. The owner of lawn parking is kind enough to jumper cable us. Getting out of Corvallis is not nearly as tough as getting out of Pullman.
4:50 – Listen to the Beavers post game and call-in shows. OSU fans are very respectful of the Trojans and understand the historic moment. Coach Mike Riley is almost at a loss for words during an interview. Beaver radio hosts say that Cal is best team in the conference, but the Trojans have meant so much to the Pac-10 and that "they" will be back.
7:10 – Get back to the hotel and turn on the UCLA game and see that Washington State is slapping the Bruins. Get a call from daughter Kim, and she says, "Daddy, I heard on TV the Trojans lost. I am at the Chapman game and we're beating Pomona Pitzer." Maybe the Trojans should have played Pitzer today.
11:00 – Portland ABC affiliate leads with the Beavers upset of the "No. 1" Trojans. Oh well, the Trojans have dominated college football for so long it just seems that way.
11:30 – Get a call from Mrs. O/NSO, who has returned with her mother from an Elton John concert at the Anaheim Convention Center. She, too, is in disbelief that the Men of Troy have gone down.
11:55 – ESPN GameDay boys come on and all the discussion is about who will play the winner of Ohio State and Michigan. There is no talk of the Trojans being in the mix.
Sunday, October 29
8:30 a.m. – Thank goodness for the change of clock time. Do some O/NSO work. Recapping losing games is never much fun.
11:10 – Leave for the airport and to drop off the rental. At the National Car site, everybody, including the transportation driver, claims to have been at the game. Everybody agrees it was a great game and the driver says he can't believe they beat the "mighty Trojans."
1:30 p.m. – Before boarding Alaska flight, run into former Trojan Jeremy Hogue, who did some post game work for Fox. Hogue, a contributor to WeAreSC, agrees this team is very talented but lacks some leadership. They need to be a hungry team and not live off the glory of the past. Hogue says that the Trojans can still end up in a BCS bowl and fans should keep the faith.
4:00 – Plane arrives early into Orange County and it's time to go to work on the final pieces of our road trip.
The Obvious – So the Trojans will now have to regroup and, yes, we're all going to find out what Pete Carroll's club is really made of.
The Not So Obvious – As for the rankings, the Cardinal and Gold stayed in the Top Ten of both polls at No. 9. It could have been worse and they have opportunities to move back up, especially with future ranked opponents. However, as the Trojans painfully learned on Saturday, never look too deep into the future. After all, next weekend's O/NSO On The Road Stanford trip could answer one question. We will see if this Trojan team leaves or finds its heart in San Francisco.