Years from now, USC’s 36-7 loss to Oregon State in Corvallis will probably just be a hilarious footnote from a very odd season for the Southern California Trojans. Probation, no bowl games, and terrible defense (despite the presence of Monte Kiffin) will probably get most of the press.
But USC losing for the third consecutive time at Reser Stadium is just ridiculous. Especially by four touchdowns to the worst Oregon State team since USC’s “Oregon Curse” began in 2006. Make no mistake, this year’s Oregon State Beavers are terrible.
USC only managed 255 yards of offense against a defense that was giving up an average of 393 yards per game. That could partially be explained by the loss of quarterback Matt Barkley to injury just before halftime. Except that backup Mitch Mustain isn’t exactly a schmuck…or so everyone thought when he was a freshman at Arkansas.
Mustain finished 8-17 for 60 yards on the day. And this was for a USC offense that spent the entire second half playing from behind and needing to throw.
The SC defense gave up 36 points to an offense that hadn’t scored more than 14 in a game in the month of November. Oregon State lost to Washington State LAST WEEK for God’s sake.
In the spectrum of losses to Oregon State, this most recent disaster probably isn’t as big as the 2008 loss that cost the Trojans a shot at the national title. The Beavers were 25-point underdogs on that night. Then again, at least USC competed well at the end of that game, as well as the 2006 33-31 loss.
The same can’t be said for this year’s USC team. We’ll know more on Saturday, but it seems that the realities of no bowl game and a very mediocre season have already sunk in for the USC players.
I wonder if this was the game that finally made both the USC athletic department and Lane Kiffin wonder if they had each made the right move in bringing Kiffin to Los Angeles. It was basically Kiffin’s sole job to keep this USC team motivated and out of disasters exactly like this one. No one realistically thought the Trojans were going to beat Oregon. But the Trojan defense has been terrible pretty much all season, while the Trojan offense has scored a pretty good amount of points, yet failed to win a couple of shootouts against Washington and Stanford.
Whatever happened up until this game, Kiffin was still supposed to avoid losses like this. Probation is getting real for USC fans now.
* Photo courtesy the AP