Oregon State gave everybody in the Pac-10 hope with a win over USC last month.
But did the Beavers awake a sleeping giant in that game?
The Beavers not only pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season with a 27-21 triumph over No. 1 USC, but Oregon State did it convincingly in outplaying the Trojans.
USC, now ranked No. 6, has been on a rampage ever since heading into its 7:15 p.m. game Saturday at Arizona.
“They stubbed their toe,” UA coach Mike Stoops said. “In hindsight that might have motivated them. They are playing awfully well right now.”
USC has recorded back-to-back shutouts and has outscored opponents 141-10 since the loss.
The Trojans are back in the national title picture and on a mission so they don’t fall flat again.
“Every game is a championship game. We have done that for eight years around here,” USC coach Pete Carroll said. “We have to be at our best every time we go out. That is why it was shocking to us to play so poorly at Oregon State.”
USC has had slip-ups in the past, losing to Oregon State and UCLA in 2006 and Stanford in 2007.
The Trojans usually respond after a loss. That doesn’t mean the Wildcats won’t dissect USC’s game film against the Beavers to see if there is anything left to exploit.
“Sometimes you can scheme to get (their top-notch athletes) out of position,” said UA coach Mike Stoops. “I think Oregon State did an excellent job of that.”
Arizona will try to duplicate the things the Beavers did: Get ahead early, run some clock and play aggressively on defense to rattle and get USC quarterback Mark Sanchez out of a comfort zone.
The Beavers took a 21-0 lead at halftime, scoring touchdowns on three of their four drives. USC went past midfield only once in five first-half possessions.
Oregon State handed the ball to freshman tailback Jacquizz Rodgers, who at 5-foot-8 ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
The Wildcats will have 5-10 Nic Grigsby and 5-8 Keola Antolin getting the carries.
The Beavers were perfect on four red-zone possessions. Arizona knows it can’t make mistakes when inside the USC 20.
Arizona has converted 31 of 34 drives in the red zone, scoring 25 touchdowns.
The Beavers took advantage of their chances. The Wildcats must do the same.
“I don’t know if you have to be perfect, but we have to capitalize on our opportunities,” UA offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes said. “Oregon State proved they could move the ball on them. It was no fluke. They blocked them and made plays. We have to do the same things Oregon State did.”
USC beat Ohio State 35-3 two weeks before the loss to Oregon State.
“We played miserable,” Carroll said. “Coming off Ohio State and the bye we didn’t handle it very well. We couldn’t tackle (Rodgers) and we didn’t play the running game well.”
Take that game away and the Trojans are playing as well any of its last six BCS Bowl teams.
That loss isn’t being forgotten.
“You can’t take away that game. If you figure out a way, will you let me know?” Carroll said. “I could live without that performance. Hopefully that doesn’t repeat.”
Arizona would not mind a sequel.
No. 6 USC (5-1, 3-1) at UA (5-2, 3-1), 7 p.m. Saturday. TV: FSNA. Radio: 1290 AM
USC’s rare defeats
The Trojans have lost seven games since the start of the 2003 season:
Year Opponent Score
2008 at Oregon State 27-21
2007 at Oregon 24-17
2007 Stanford 24-23
2006 at UCLA 13-9
2006 at Oregon State 33-31
2005 Texas* 41-38
2003 at California (3 OT) 34-31
*National title game