USC has no answer for Corvallis

first_imgThere was a lot to be said about the Trojans’ impressive win against Arizona two Saturdays ago.But after a week of sub-par practices culminated in a shocking 36-7 upset loss to Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., on Saturday, not many words remained.“I don’t know what it is. I don’t know,” senior tailback C.J. Gable said, trying to answer why USC couldn’t seem to get it together.Redshirt junior linebacker Chris Galippo failed in doing so as well.“I have no idea,” he said.Had you watched USC’s game on Saturday, you would realize how fitting this statement — or lack thereof — is.Not only were the Trojans beat in Corvallis, they were blindsided, trampled and overrun. USC, a team that came into Saturday averaging 35.2 points per game, was held scoreless in the first half and limited to just seven points for the night.In case you weren’t keeping track, neither of those things had happened to the Trojans since 2001. And in case you need reminding, this beat-down came not from a national contender, but from a team that had just fallen to Washington State at home by 17 points.The Beavers looked nothing like anyone expected them to, and the Trojans were not the least bit ready for it, despite knowing full well that they were headed to Corvallis, the place where USC hopes go to die.The win two Saturdays ago in Tucson, Ariz., was extremely promising for USC, which finally looked to be taking a step in the right direction as a program. But that victory gave the Trojans more than just some momentum and a whiff of a 10-win season — it gave them a distraction and a reason to be lackadaisical.And Oregon State knew it was coming.Chalk it up to whatever you want — poor coaching, missed opportunities, crowd noise, injuries — but at the end of the day, the Trojans suffered from a general lack of mental preparation.This is not to say that USC coach Lane Kiffin and his staff didn’t get their team ready to play football — they did. The problem was they were ready to face typical circumstances, against a typical team, with a typical stadium and a typical coach.If there is one thing the Trojans have learned in the last four years, it is that you don’t simply approach a game in the state of Oregon — where USC has now lost five years in a row — the way you approach other contests. Although there is no specific reason why this is so, historic evidence is just too overwhelming to think otherwise.USC entered the game looking potent on its first drive, but a missed fourth-down-and-one conversion gave the Beavers just enough momentum to start a run, and the Trojans were not prepared to squash it before it overcame them. Soon, it was 20-0 at half, and visions of former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez and the No. 1 Trojans of 2008 began to creep into the back of people’s minds.It didn’t help that USC was playing with backups at quarterback, tailback and linebacker for much of the second half. But at that point, it didn’t seem to matter.So what is needed to finally break the Corvallis Curse?For as much critique as I can give on the game, I have just as few answers for this curious Oregon State team. If there is one lesson to take into the Trojans’ next game there, it is to prepare to be tricked.From now on, the Trojans will need to realize the team that takes the field opposite them might be very different from the one they prepared for or watched the week before on game film. It might not run the same offense, it might not make the same mistakes and it might not look capable of losing to the worst team in the Pac-10.The team should have learned this lesson in 2008, and it certainly should now.Until someone is able to come up with an answer better than “I don’t know,” this is a test that USC will continue to fail.“One-Two Punch” ran Mondays. To comment on this article, visit or e-mail James at [email protected]last_img

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