Unranked Oregon State surprised the Trojans once again in Corvallis, improving to 2-2 by dominating USC's offensive and defensive lines in a 27-21 victory Thursday that left Pete Carroll and his No. 1 USC squad stunned.
Jacquizz Rodgers, who had gained 263 yards in games against Stanford, Penn State and Hawaii, ran for 186 yards on 37 carries with two touchdowns for the Beavers. Rodgers' brother, James, caught the Beavers' other two touchdowns.
USC's defense, which had led the nation in holding opponents to an average five points per game, had been dominating until Thursday. The Trojans' veteran defense is studded with future first-round NFL draft picks, but could not tackle Jacquizz Rodgers tonight.
The diminutive freshman back averaged five yards per carry, mostly between the tackles. Rodgers, who is 5'7" and virtually unknown outside of Oregon, outgained the Trojans' acclaimed trio of running backs—Joe McKnight, Stafon Johnson, and CJ Gable—by 100 yards. McKnight gained only 10 yards on seven carries.
Orange and black were the dominant colors in the first half, as the Beavers delighted a home crowd with three touchdowns to lead 21-0 over a shocked Trojan team that just did not seem to be able to get on track. Just two weeks ago, Penn State crushed Oregon State, leading by a 45-7 margin after three quarters before the game ended at 45-14.
While USC's offense generated some energy in the third quarter with two touchdowns to close the deficit to 21-14, Mark Sanchez threw an interception with just over three minutes left to safety Greg Laybourn, returned to the 2-yard line.
After another Jacquizz Rodgers touchdown and a missed extra point, USC quickly scored to breathe some hope for an improbable comeback into their fans. Seconds later, though, an on-side kick recovered by the Beavers may have ended USC's hopes for a national championship.
Oregon State upset USC two years ago in Corvallis, also, withstanding a Trojan comeback that ended with a failed last second 2 point conversion. After the game, Beavers fans again rolled over the field in waves of orange after the game celebrating their third defeat of the Trojans in thirty-nine years. Carroll afterwards complimented the Oregon State football team for "playing a great game." The Beavers may have found the Achilles heel of the Trojans—something that will not go unnoticed by the rest of the Pac-10.
For those who had pencilled in USC for the national championship game, it's time to use the eraser. Don't pencil in USC for the Rose Bowl either quite yet, though they have the talent. College football's race is wide open, will have more upsets, and should be as exciting as it will be unpredictable.