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Category: USC football

January 9, 2008

Rose Bowl 2008

Sun sets on the Rose Bowl as USC score another touchdown

Over the New Years break d and I went down to visit my aunt and uncle and watch the Rose Bowl. They were kind enough to offer up their seats to me and I happily accepted.

I pretty much got what I wanted with respect to the game. USC had to blow out Illinois in order to get any respect, which they did. The conventional wisdom was that USC was a much better team and that Illinois shouldn't have been selected for the Rose Bowl; this was validated by the 49-17 final score. One of the things I enjoy about watching USC play is that they use all their weapons: Davis, Ausberry, Dennis, Reed, Washington, and McKnight all had touchdowns. McKnight gave a performance that has people thinking Reggie Bush in future years.

October 7, 2007

What happened Saturday?

Several streaks were broken on Saturday. For me, I've never seen USC lose a game in person. I've also never seen Stanford win a game in person -- I've even seen Stanford lose to Navy. The USC fans around me hadn't seen USC lose at home since 2001.

All the people I talked to after the game pretty much went through the same course of emotions:

  • USC 9-0, halftime: "oh well, USC will blow them out in the second half."
  • 23-17, 4th quarter: "it won't help USC reclaim the #1 spot, but a win is a win."
  • Stanford on USC's 5-yard-line: "this should wake the USC defense up. Time for them to stuff Stanford and end this farce."
  • 23-23 and Stanford lining up for the extra point: "well, um, USC's going to block that extra point, right?"
  • 23-24 and 0:49 on the clock: "Hmmm, USC could actually lose this one. But they'll march down and kick a field goal."
  • Incomplete pass on first down, USC receivers strolling back to the line instead of hussling to spike the ball and stop the clock: "Oh crap, they're gonna lose."

January 7, 2007

Rose Bowl 2007: USC clobbers Michigan

IMG_4495 IMG_4488

IMG_4154We planned to go down to SoCal for the Rose Parade regardless, but once USC surprisingly lost to UCLA, the weekend re-oriented itself around USC football. There was the trip to the USC campus so we could pick up additional USC paraphernalia and visit Heritage Hall, where national championship trophies and Heisman trophy after Heisman trophy were lined up in abundance. Then there was the Rose Parade, which also seemed like a USC event given that alumni George Lucas was Grand Marshal -- he had recently given ~$160M to the school. Lucas also did the coin toss at the start of the Rose Bowl with Darth Vader at his side -- USC won the toss.

Then, of course, the game. Our seats were at the USC endzone side of the stadium, which gave us a good view of the yellow/red divide on the opposite side:

IMG_4471

It seemed that USC fans outnumbered Michigan 2:1 and we were loud. Actually, for the first half, we were only kinda loud. USC only managed 3 points and squandered at least one other scoring opportunity when QB Booty fumbled. 3-3 is not the most exciting score, though it did keep our nervous tension high. The entire USC offense seemed to consist of 1-yard running plays followed by lucky 3rd down passing conversions. My dad and I chatted during half time and it seemed to us that the USC defense was awesome, but the much vaunted USC offense was asleep.

The USC game plan changed for the second half to one simple rule: pass. Jarrett caught passes and darted away from defenders for 2 TDs. Steve Smith made long games. Fred Davis and Chris McFoy caught a couple. One TD drive consisted entirely of four passes: boom, boom, boom, TD. All the while the USC defense kept making excellent plays: interception by LoJack, sacks and a forced fumble by Cushing, anticipating the running plays before they developed, etc...

Everything went exactly how you want a game for your team to go: a close score early on to keep your attention, then a complete dismantling to leave no doubt. USC fans even got to see a glimpse of their future starting QB Mark Sanchez long before time ran out. Jarrett got offensive MVP honors and chants of "One More Year," Cushing got defensive MVP honors, and Booty reprised Leinhart's role by directing the marching band at the end of the game.

You can get the whole game on iTunes for $1.99. In fact, for $4.99 you can get the 2007 Rose Bowl plus USC's clobbering of Michigan in the 2004 Rose Bowl and the more disappointing 1989 Rose Bowl (for USC fans at least).

November 4, 2006

Watching USC clobber Stanford 42-0

USC slipped to #9 last week after their loss to Oregon State. This ruined their undefeated record and has all but dashed their hopes of a national championship. Having watched them all season, it was bound to happen; they haven't been in national championship form all season (some still are trying to conceive of national-championship scenarios for USC). But that doesn't mean it wasn't nice to know that they would next face Stanford. What better team to lift one's spirits than the 0-8 Cardinal. Navy clobbered Stanford this season. I've watched Navy football my whole life, but I had never seen them roll over a team like they did Stanford. If Stanford can make Navy look like national champions... Stanford is also a great opponent because you can walk into their stadium with a "Beat Stanford" pin and be in the majority. I gave away a ticket to a group of Stanford fans who thanked me by saying that they were happy to help improve our national championship hopes.

My parents were in town for the USC vs. Stanford game and we had a great time. Our seats were front row on the goal line: I enjoyed seeing QB Mark Sanchez's dive for his first college touchdown for USC; my mom enjoyed the baton twirlers, marching band, and cheerleaders. My parents also got some education in USC marching band songs -- the V-for-victory hand sign, "U... C... L... A... sucks". I especially liked the addition of "Snakes on a Plane" to their usual playlist.

Stanford didn't stand a chance. Three second-quarter TDs put USC up 28-0 at half. Hoping to at least put at least 3 points on the board, Stanford managed to drive within field goal range in the 3rd quarter. Instead of erasing the shutout, USC blocked the field goal and ran it back for a touchdown. It was a well-coached block: after Sedrick Ellis blocked the kick, Terrell Thomas ran over to pickup the ball while the rest of the team was already running down field to setup blocks; Thomas was able to run behind a sea of USC players all the way for the TD.

USC 42, Stanford 0

October 16, 2006

USC barely beats ASU

I went down to SoCal this weekend to visit my relatives and watch the USC/ASU game. I have season tickets to Stanford games, but I can take only so much joy out of watching Stanford losing every week. The SC home games are also much more fun, with much better tailgating and much better freebies. The only SC gear I brought to the game was an SC visor; I left with two t-shirts, a lanyard, and several pins all for free.

Although USC won the game 28-21, USC fans like myself are a bit worried: many would agree that SC doesn't deserve to be in the top 5 right now. USC was up 21-0 early on, but then let ASU tie the game at 28-21. The game was rescued by one player alone: Chauncey Washington, who carried the ball 10 times on a single drive to put SC up 28-21.

The biggest weakness, or at least biggest focal point for critics is QB John Booty. Booty waited a long time behind Carson Palmer and Matt Leinhart to become starter, and two Heisman trophies cast a big shadow. Booty started the season better than Leinhart's first games, but instead of showing promising potential, Booty has gotten worse each game. His adjustment has been made more difficult by the lack of Reggie Bush to throw to and injuries to top receivers Jarrett and Smith, but Booty single-handedly gave ASU 14 points on Saturday: a fumble in USC territory and an interception for a TD after misreading the coverage.

Cal has done a much better job disposing of the same opponents that SC has faced. Whereas USC has been one play away from losing against WSU and ASU, Cal won each by several TDs. It's quite possible that Cal will beat SC and I would hardly qualify it as the upset it was last time.

At least I have high hopes for the USC/Stanford game that I'll be watching in person: even Navy crushed Stanford, so I don't think it will matter how many fresh-out-of-high-school players SC has in the line-up; a JV squad could beat Stanford right now.

January 5, 2006

Young 41, USC 38

Man, it sucked to break in my new TV watching USC lose to Texas, but that was a great national championship game. As much I as I enjoyed watching USC beat Oklahoma before the first quarter was even over, having a game come down the wire makes for better viewing. I was plenty familiar with USC having seen most of their televised game for the past three years, but I hadn't seen Young before -- crap he was amazing.

As for arguments about officiating, USC had many chances to put away the game for good: 4th and 2, facemask penalty, etc... If USC was better, they would have put it away. Instead the teams were evenly matched and it came down to the final minute.

January 4, 2005

USC #1

Man, I love USC football, but I didn't expect them to absolutely kill Oklahoma. Usually USC builds up the drama with a porous first half defense, but after allowing an early OU touchdown, it became non-stop USC: SI.com - A clear No. 1: USC routs OU 55-19 in Orange Bowl

November 28, 2004

USC/Notre Dame Homecoming

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ND  7  3  0  0 10
USC 3 14 10 14 41

I got to watch USC beat the crap out of Notre Dame for their homecoming. It was my first USC home game, and it was a whole lot more fun watching a game there than it is at Stanford, even if it was pouring rain on us most of the game. There's just a whole lot more going on when you go to a USC home game than there at Stanford.

It was a typical Pete Carroll game: USC looked terrible in the first quarter and a half, completely unable to stop the Notre Dame running game, then they made some adjustments and completely unloaded on Notre Dame. Leinhart racked up 5 TDs/400 yards, Reggie Bush had a great cut that lead to a 70 yard touchdown, Jarrett got a couple, Smith got one in his return from a broken leg, and a fake punt with seven minutes remaining got the Notre Dame staff pissed off as USC was already up 34-10 (and soon went to 41-10 afterwards).

Continue reading "USC/Notre Dame Homecoming" »

September 25, 2004

Phew, USC beats Stanford

USC 10  7  7  7 31
STA 7 21 0 0 28

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I love going to USC games. I haven't been to any home games, but their games at Stanford are great events. There are enough USC fans that it seems like a home game, and the USC marching band does performances both before and after the game to keep the USC fans entertained. You also have to like a team where even the head coach is playing catch during warm-up, and the football players come over the USC section to salute them.

Last time I saw USC play Stanford in person, USC stomped the Cardinal 49-17 (2002), and given that today's line was 22 points, I was expecting a similar experience as two years ago. Man was I wrong.

USC went up early, but Stanford picked away at the lead with a pass attack and good punt returns. USC also made its share of mistakes, including allowing an 82 yard touchdown on the final play of the first half on a run where Stanford was just trying to run out the clock. Even when USC forced fumbles, Stanford seemed to recovered (3-0). As the game went into halftime I was shocked to see Stanford up 28-17.

The second half was a different story. Reggie Bush seemed to wake up -- his punt returns looked like someone was hitting the spin button on Madden and his running game went from backwards to 5+ yards/carry. USC scored two touchdowns in the second half and could have scored three (they ran the clock out), and their offense gained control over the game.

It helped that Buddy Teevens seemed eager to coach Stanford out of the game. Despite having no evidence of a running game in the first half, Stanford kept going to the running game in a failed attempt to run some time off the clock. If he had stuck with the successful passing game, who knows, but instead Stanford kept going three and out, which gave USC plenty of time and opportunity to catch up.

Continue reading "Phew, USC beats Stanford" »

January 4, 2004

USC is Number 1!

USC gets Number 1 in the media poll, splitting the title with LSU. The BCS gets one more year(?) before its contract is due, so it can't be said that USC killed it, but there will certainly be a lot of impetus for change over the summer, hopefully to a system that can actually be understood and explained.

I have a post about the Rose Bowl on my other computer, which is currently awaiting a battery charging. (Rose Bowl entry now posted under Jan 1). I didn't watch the Sugar Bowl, but USC's better :).

January 1, 2004

USC wins Rose Bowl

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Final 1st2nd3rd4thT 
 Michigan (4)007714 
 USC (1)7714028

There were two things I found funny about this game. One was a postgame quote from DE Kenechi Udeze: "People thought we were a 'finesse' line. Half of us on the defensive line can't even spell finesse. We were offended." The other was that this game was billed by ABC as embodiment of man versus machine, polls versus the BCS computer-generated standings. College football seems to be the last place where our fear of obsolescence by computer would turn up, but it has, and it's amusing, partly in a pedantic sense, as the role of a computer in this is mostly irrelevant. The BCS standings are a bunch of mathematical equations thought up by pseudo-statistician humans who are too lazy to work out their solutions on paper. The computer serves the role of the accomplice, accelerating the application of our own hubris, our desire to be able to perfectly categorize, rank, and file all that's under the sun (and stadium lights).

Watching USC play proves the adage that the really good teams create their own luck. Whenever an opportunity presented itself, the USC players were in the position to take advantage of it, from an errant Navarre pass bounced off of Edwards' foot into the hands of two waiting USC backs to the constant pressure from the corners that resulted in a USC player kicking the ball out of Navarre's hand as he dove past and other drops.

Nearly every aspect of USC's game was on fire. They lit up Michigan for nine sacks, tipped passes, knocked the ball out of Navarre's hands multiple times, blocked the field goal attempt on Michigan's first drive, punished Michigan's punt returner on his only return attempt, and even managed to complete a TD pass to their own QB.

Norm Chow seemed to have the pulse of the game -- USC went deep multiple times, and nearly every single time they pulled it off perfectly. The time of possession clock was heavily in Michigan's favor as a result of USC's efficient drives downfield. Matt Leinart hardly seemed a freshman as he was ranking up Carson Palmer numbers, and Mike Williams looked like an NFL player playing with kids.
ESPN.com - NCF - College Football Recap

December 7, 2003

USC wins, but won't be competing for national title

USC 52, Oregon State 28

No. 2 USC beat Oregon State 52-28, and No. 1 Oklahoma lost to Kansas State, yet, according to BCS predictions, because of a Notre Dame loss, USC will rise to No. 1 in the polls but drop to No. 3 in the BCS and be shutout of a national title bid. If that's confusing, it's because it doesn't make sense. BCS sucks.

November 22, 2003

Good day for USC

Despite being ranked #2 in all major polls, USC was still ranked #3 by the BCS formula. Today everything was fixed up as Ohio State had the decency to lose to Michigan, and USC stomped UCLA. Mike Williams had nearly 200 yards as well as two TDs after the first quarter. The score says 47-22 final, but that seems too close for the actual game, which was 33-2 at the half (the two came from a blocked PAT). Oh, and Stanford lost to Cal.
USC 47, UCLA 22

November 16, 2003

USC blanks Arizona

USC, now ranked No. 2, looks like they're in top form.
- USC 45, Arizona 0

November 2, 2003

USC gets big boost from VaTech

USC unloaded on #6 Washington State and received the good news of Virginia Tech's win over #2 (and previously undefeated) Miami came in. After it seemed that the Sugar Bowl was out of reach after their terrible loss to Cal, USC is back in the national title hunt.
USC 43, Washington State 16

October 25, 2003

USC beats Washington

USC is making itself look better and better in the BCS standings with a solid win against the Huskies. This, along with VaTech's loss to Miami will most likely push them into the #3 slot.
USC 43, Washington 23

October 18, 2003

USC dominates Notre Dame second year in a row

and takes the shillelagh for another year
USC 45, Notre Dame 14

October 11, 2003

USC Stomps Stanford

It still doesn't make up for losing to Cal, but it still is nice to stomp all over a Pac-10 opponent. The Trojans were so far ahead (41-14 at half) that they even stuck in a backup quarterback with the name "Booty."

In related news, eight teams started undefeated this week. Only three survived (Oklahoma, Miama, Virginia Tech), with the most noticeable upset being Ohio State, which lost to number 22 Wisconsin.
USC 44, Stanford 14

October 4, 2003

USC beats the Sun Devils

Not quite redemption for their play last week, but they turned in on in the second half and won by a comfortable amount.
USC 37, ASU 17

September 29, 2003

You win some, you lose some

Being a Redskins/Trojans fan, this isn't the season start I expected. The Redskins improve to 3-1 by beating the Pats 20-17, giving them their best season start in four years, while the USC Trojans, who had high hopes of a national title, lose to Cal in triple OT.
washingtonpost.com: Hang Time for Redskins
- USC Recap

September 14, 2003

USC annihilates Hawaii

61 points and almost double the score of Hawaii? Also, four of their touchdowns came from their freshman running backs. The other top four teams crushed their opponents as well, so USC will probably sit tight in the four spot for another week.
- ESPN.com - NCF - College Football Recap

September 6, 2003

USC beats BYU 35-18


BYU rallied from 21-0 to 21-18, but two more scores by 4th-ranked USC put the game back in control.
- Two late Trojan scores blunt Cougar rally

August 30, 2003

USC 23, Auburn 0

8th ranked USC crushes 6th ranked Auburn 23-0.
ESPN.com - NCF - Recap - USC at Auburn - 08/30/2003

I'm going to try to make my pilgrammage to SoCal to see USC beat up Stanford in October.

January 2, 2003

Orange Bowl: Go USC!

In the matchup of the Heisman-candidate quarterbacks, Palmer crushed Banks (with the help of some excellent USC D). USC simply unloaded on Iowa for the entire game by spreading the ball around on offense (Fargas, Williams, McCullough, Byrd). Palmer racked up 303 yards and a TD pass (Williams). Iowa was able to put seven on the board after a 100-yard opening kickoff return, but after that was fairly silent. In the words of Mike Williams, "After the kickoff, they didn't do anything."

Orange Bowl Boxscore:


Final 1st 2nd 3rd 4th T
Iowa (3) 10 0 0 7 17
USC (5) 7 3 14 14 38

Palmer outduels Banks in bowl showdown

December 14, 2002

Palmer gets Heisman

Carson Palmer won the Heisman trophy. He's the 5th Trojan to win honor (last to receive was Marcus Allen in 1981). He was also the winner of Unitas award for top senior QB. It was one of the closest races ever: first time all 5 finalists received 100 first place votes. Palmer won 5 of 6 regions, Banks won Midwest

December 8, 2002

USC and Redskins

USC going to Sugar Bowl
- After Georgia and Washington State win, Rose Bowl ruled out
- Notre Dame not picked as at-large

Redskins fumble game to Giants, 27-21
- Comeback ruined by Bailey fumble on punt return and McCants fumble after catch in 4th quarter
- Ramsey came in for injured Wuerrfel, led comeback
- 5 turnovers

November 30, 2002

USC crushes Notre Dame

Man, what a great season: USC kills Notre Dame 44-13. This was the first time since 1983 USC has beat both USC and Notre Dame. USC walks away with the shillelagh (or however its spelled).

November 23, 2002

Go USC!

USC crushes UCLA 52-21
- Palmer #2 on Pac-10 All-Time passing leaders