Another season in the books for the USC Trojans, and it's always over way too soon.
At 12-1, the newly crowned Rose Bowl champion Trojans left us with some memorable plays on offense, defense, and special teams. Here are my top 10 plays from 2008.
1) Rey's Pick Six
In the "Clash at the Coliseum," MLB Rey Maualuga intercepted an Ohio St. pass and took off down the sideline, shedding one hapless tackler and watching Trojan defenders maul Buckeye QB Todd Boeckman before cruising into the end zone.
2) Gable Makes a House Call
Kick returner C.J. Gable took a Stanford kickoff return to the house, scampering 93 yards down the sideline to emphatically answer a previous Stanford score.
3) A-Mays-ing Hits
Free safety Taylor Mays separated Cal wide receivers from the ball with bone-crushing hits on deep pass routes versus the Bears.
4) Johnson Cuts Down Arizona
RB Stafon Johnson threw a cut block that sent an Arizona safety blitzer head over heels and allowed QB Sanchez to throw a TD to a wide-open Stanley Havili for a key score against the Wildcats.
5) Mustain Visits the Land of Aus
QB Mitch Mustain hooked up with WR David Ausberry on a 60-yard bomb against "press" coverage from Oregon's Jairus Byrd.
Video (at the 20 sec. mark)
6) Thomas' Pick Six
CB Kevin Thomas read ASU's Rudy Carpenter's eyes perfectly and stepped in front of a pass to intercept the ball and take it 46 yards for the score in a 28-0 win over the Sun Devils.
Video (at the 38 sec. mark)
7) Joe Makes Irish Cry
It was a simple stretch running play for the Trojans against Notre Dame until RB Joe McKnight exploded past Irish defenders (turning one completely around without breaking stride) to score on a 50+ yard running play.
Video (at the seven sec. mark)
8) Havili's Fingertip Grab
How many fullbacks can outrun a linebacker on a deep "wheel route", make a fingertip grab, and then dive in the end zone for a TD pass play of 35 yards? There's only one that I know of...Stanley Havili. Havili opened up the Trojan scoring with this scintillating play against Ohio St. in the second game of the year.
Video (at the 14 sec. mark)
9) Taylor-made Tackle
Safety Taylor Mays lowered the boom on Arizona RB Keola Antolin, who broke into the clear for a nice gain. Mays met Antolin head on, and Antolin spun around and collapsed on the spot. Luckily, Antolin was not seriously injured on the play, but he did not return to the game.
10) It's All About the Ball
After a 40-yard gain on a screen pass, speedy Penn St. RB Stephfon Green was stripped of the football by CB Cary Harris and safety Taylor Mays in front of the Trojan sidelines. The fumble was recovered by SC, and the rout of Penn State in the Rose Bowl was officially on. Coach Carroll could be seen prancing with the ball after the turnover on the sidelines...giddy about his favorite kind of defensive play.
Video (at the 2:47 mark)