USC Is The USO Of The College Football World

When I started this blog oh so long ago (a whole week) I wanted to do something a bit different. There are lots of places you can read USC game recaps, statistics, commentary, etc. I thought it would be interesting to blog about my experience in the trenches as a USC fan.

I find it difficult to do that this week. I’m mad as hell just like every Trojan fan is. I want to rant about the decision to stick with Aaron Corp to the death, the play calling, the penalties, the turnovers, etc. But by the time you see this you’ll have read lots of articles, blogs and tweets criticizing the players and coaches; and I’m sure you’ve already ranted to your friends and heard them rant back. So I’ll try to stick to my mission of providing a unique take on the game.

In the days leading up to the first two USC football games I was very excited and had lots of anticipation. In week one it was because I was so excited about the start of football season. In week two it was because we were going to the Ohio State University Horseshoe for one of the biggest college football games of the year. In week three I wasn’t excited at all about the UW game or going to Seattle. I’m not sure why I had so much apathy, it was either an emotional letdown after the previous week’s exciting victory, or because I perceived UW to be so bad, or because of all the quarterback B.S. that Pete Carroll allowed to get out of control by refusing to name a starting QB even when it seemed obvious Corp would start.

I was aware of my apathy and kept thinking that the team better have a better attitude about the game than I did or we’ll be in big trouble. The game was so insignificant that my friend Marcus, who had been to 109 consecutive USC football games (he was exactly 99 games behind me), decided this was a good week to end his streak.

Unlike the flight to Columbus that was loaded with USC fans I think there were only three USC fans on my flight to Seattle – me and my two traveling buddies Adam and Rumy. But that’s not unusual for a game like this, there aren’t many fans who’ll go on a road trip for what is perceived to be a marginal game. Once we got to Seattle we didn’t notice any UW fans or Husky pride around town with the exception of one guy who walked passed us at the airport, said “go dogs,” then made some silly barking noises. It was pathetic to see a grown man walking through the airport alone making dog sounds. Lame.

Nice mood lighting on Virgin America.

Some cool window seat photos.

I woke up early on Saturday to go for a morning jog and didn’t realize it was an ugly, rainy day until I stepped outside. The weather report said it would clear up for the game but it never did. It was cold and windy all day long with intermittent periods of rain throughout. I’d been fighting the flu all week and the crappy Seattle weather didn’t help at all.

We got to the UW campus about two hours before kickoff and everyone was very mellow. I didn’t see very many USC fans walking around and the UW fans pretty much kept to themselves. We didn’t do any pregame tailgating, we just went right into the stadium about 90 minutes before kickoff to watch the teams go through warm-ups and soak up what little atmosphere there was in the stadium. There wasn’t much excitement in the stands because a USC blowout seemed imminent and inevitable.

Just like last year’s loss to Oregon State the hometown fans weren’t interested enough in the game to sell their stadium out. After both losses I pitied the fair weather fans who could have watched their team have a historic moment but decided to stay home instead.

An hour before kickoff and the stadium was nearly empty.

I was standing at the players’ tunnel before the game and when I saw Taylor Mays come out in street clothes I think I was the first to report (via Twitter) that he wouldn’t be playing. The defense did fine without Taylor but it was an ominous start.

Taylor Mays takes the field.

When the game finally started everyone in the USC section was eager to see who would come in at QB and we weren’t too surprised to see Corp in there. However, I am pretty shocked to read the Corp wasn’t told he would start until game time. I think that was a huge mistake and if it was a strategy designed to throw UW off it obviously didn’t work.

After the first couple of series where we moved the ball at will and totally shut the UW offense down I wondered if UW was even trying. I actually tweeted “Think we can score 100 today? That was way too easy.” which now seems like one of the dumbest tweets in the history of Twitter.

Starting with the second quarter you couldn’t help but get a sense of déjà vu. We’ve seen this one before. The sinking feeling in our stomachs was all too familiar. Standing there in the Northwest cold, clothes wet, frustration high and fighting flu symptoms it suddenly felt like another N.C.-busting loss was inevitable. But this time it was different. In previous years’ meltdowns I felt like we just weren’t playing up to our abilities. Against UW, for the first time in a long time, it looked like we just weren’t that good.

The combination of Corp’s lack of leadership and inability to scramble or pass the ball effectively, USC’s abysmal play calling and the numerous turnovers would have resulted in a loss no matter who we were playing. USC wasn’t limited to 13 points because Washington’s defense is that good. Washington gave up 412 yards to Idaho (349 of them passing) the previous week! We only got 13 points because our offense was impotent. The way things were going I don’t think we would have scored any more points against the worst defense in the FBS. In fact, a half decent defense might have caught the three passes Corp threw directly to Washington defenders.

Two of the things that bothered me most about the game were the turnovers and the decision to run the ball, in field goal range, with 18 seconds left in the first half. In the last fifty games where USC had the advantage in turnovers we are 50-0. We have to win the turnover battle every week! At Monday Morning Quarterback Carroll said that they ran the ball at the end of the half to get a first down and stop the clock. He explained this several different ways and no matter what he said it never made sense to me. It was just horrible clock management. The only sure way to stop the clock is to pass for a first down, then whether the pass is complete or not the clock stops and we kick the field goal. I haven’t stopped stewing over that horrible play call which might have changed the outcome of the game.

It’s a shame our last two games have been as close as they were. Our defense has played lights out by only allowing two touchdowns in three games. If you’re USC and the defense allows one touchdown or less you MUST win that game!

Against Ohio State in the fourth quarter it felt like it would take a miracle to win but against UW it shouldn’t take a miracle. It’s freaking Washington! Washington who hasn’t won two games in a row since the start of the 2007 season. Washington who’s only won one game in over a year. Washington who we beat 56-0 last year and is the doormat of the Pac-10. It doesn’t take a miracle to beat Washington it’s something you just do. Strike that, you don’t “beat” Washington you annihilate them. You build a huge lead then rest your starters and give your backups some playing time.

I feel like USC is the opposite of Ohio State. OSU can’t win the big games and USC can’t win the little games.

So how is USC is like the USO of the college football world? Well every year we visit one school with a miserable football team and spread cheer to their fans (and all the USC haters) by letting them walk all over us. Is there another team in America where opposing fans are guaranteed to rush the field if they win?

UW fans rush the field.

I think I’ve seen more opposing fans rush the field in the last four years than anyone in America. Just imagine the euphoric feeling you get when your unranked team beats the number two or three team in the country. Because USC is so good we’re expected to win every single game and when we don’t it’s the mother of all celebrations for the opposing team’s fans. This is what I hate the most. It’s not just losing that sucks, it’s being there to witness the other team celebrate the best thing to happen for their underachieving team in a decade.

Our flight back to L.A. departed at 7pm so we hightailed it out of the stadium as soon as the game was over. Most of the UW fans were still celebrating in the stadium when we left so we didn’t run into too many of them on the way out. The ones we saw were obviously ecstatic. In all we were in Seattle for less than 24 hours and our stay wasn’t a minute too short!

I’m looking forward to this Saturday’s game against Washington State with Matt Barkley back at QB. I need a big Trojan victory to get the horrible taste of defeat out of my mouth. If you’re going to the game be sure to stop by my tailgate to say hello and have a beer!

Fight On!

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One Response to “USC Is The USO Of The College Football World”

  1. football goals Says:

    Hey, I just wanted to say what a great website. I totally enjoyed it and found it interesting reading. Can’t wait for your next post!

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