USC Chokes Away Another Shot at the National Championship

Kristofer GreenSenior Writer ISeptember 25, 2008

USC has done it again.

The Men of Troy will no longer be the No. 1 team in the country and will not play for the National Championship, again.

The Oregon State Beavers made sure of that.

What is it about the Trojans?

How can they beat up on quality non-conference opponents year after year, only to lay an egg during the conference season?

The Pac-10 and especially Mike Riley and the Beavers have the Trojans figured out.

Sure, USC will win most of their games, usually enough to take home the Pac-10 crown based on the extraordinary talent they have on their roster.

But, the fact that USC loses to inferior teams, including Stanford in 2007, Oregon State and UCLA in 2006, and now in 2008 to the Beavers again speaks volumes about a team that has been outstanding, but unable to close the deal.

Pete Carroll is unquestionably one of the top three coaches in the nation and he is a master game-day coach, but his teams, whether it be overconfidence and complacency or poor preparation, have failed to show up for the "little" games the way they do for the big ones.

Oregon State played an outstanding game.  No question.

Jacquizz Rodgers was simply amazing.  The true freshman rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns against a Trojan defense that could not find him or bring him down the whole game.

Even more impressive is that the Beavers ran the ball right at the teeth of the Trojan defense.  The didn't shy away from Rey Maualuga; instead, they ran right at him.

The same Trojan defense that allowed a total of 10 points in their first two games against Virginia and Ohio State allowed the Beavers 21 points in the first half.

The same Trojan offense that put up 87 points in their first two games were held scoreless in the first half.

The Trojans were held to 2-of-10 on third down conversions, 86 yards rushing, and two key turnovers. A fumble by Joe McKnight and an interception by Mark Sanchez both lead to touchdowns for the Beavers.

So, how does a team that loses to Stanford and gets blown out by Penn State beat a team that is a consensus No. 1 and looks like an unstoppable force?

Play like the Beavers played.  The Beavers were not intimidated, fazed, or concerned with who their opponent was.  They just played like they knew they could.

After the upset, Beaver coach Mike Riley was so proud of his team he was almost brought to tears. 

The last time the Beavers beat a No. 1-ranked team was in 1967 when they beat an O.J. Simpson-led USC team. 

What now for the Trojans?

The loss, barring a miracle, will eliminate them from the National Championship discussion.  Carroll will talk about how the goal is always a Pac-10 Championship, but after winning seven in a row, will that be enough?

More disturbing is the health of Maualuga.  He left the game in the fourth quarter with an injury.  Losing Maualuga would be a huge blow to the Trojans, and there is no word of what the injury is or how serious it is.

The Trojans will rebound; they always do.  But once again, the men of Troy have failed to close the deal.

The Oregon State Beavers just beat them. 

Plain and simple.