Almost a year ago to the week, Stanford toppled USC in one of the most ridiculous upsets in college football history. Staring down a ticked off Pete Carroll, the Coliseum crowd, a 41-point underdog status with gamblers and working with a backup quarterback who had only attempted a handful of passes, Stanford did the impossible: 24-23.
I get heartburn writing about it. The darn event even has its own Wikipedia page.
So it gives me no great pleasure to be reminded that USC is once again massive favorites -- 42 to 43 points at last check -- to possibly an even worse Pac-10 foe, this year's Washington State Cougars. How bad is Washington State? The Cougars have already surrendered 60-plus points to opponents three times this season (66 to California, 63 to Oregon and 66 to Oregon State). College football doormat Baylor pasted them 45-17. UCLA's pathetic offense managed to beat then 28-3. Just terrible all around.
Not unlike Stanford last year.
Heading into the USC game, Stanford had surrendered 35, 55, and 41 points to conference opponent.
But all of that mattered not when USC's grab bag offense showed up. Last week's pedestrian effort -- defense withheld -- against Arizona State, capped by five straight second half turnovers makes me not one bit comfortable about a game that should otherwise be a "get well" blowout on the order of USC's thrashing of Oregon 44-10 this year.
Sometimes past is precedent though, and despite all evidence to the woeful state of Washington State football, this Trojan's nervous. I watched USC's offense for most of last week against Arizona State in horror, not unlike the entire first, second and fourth quarters against Oregon State.
USC's offense has a bad habit of disappearing when it shouldn't and despite mountains of evidence (13-9 to UCLA, being down 33-10 against Oregon State in 2006, the first half shutout against Oregon State this year, the flurry of turnovers against Arizona State this year, the second half turnover bonanza and game-long inability to run the ball against Stanford last year) USC and its mountains of offensive talent have never seen fit to remedy their unusual predicament.
And so what should be one of the gimmiest of gimmies should cause even the most sound of USC backers to at least raise an eyebrow. We're talking to you, Kirk Herbstreit. And you too, Mark May. Chances are USC puts this game away early, but its no longer a sure thing as USC keeps proving in all its recent sure thing games.