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Nation's love affair with the Trojans...


slamee101
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Not sure if I buy it...but:

USC coach Pete Carroll is perplexed. For the fifth time in six seasons, his team has won nine of its first 10 games, yet this time the Trojans seem to have little chance of playing for the BCS championship.

In 2004 and '05, USC was undefeated and ranked first in the country at this point. In 2003 and '06, they were the highest-ranked one-loss team in the BCS standings.

But this year, with just three weekends of regular-season action remaining, the 9-1 Trojans sit a distant sixth in the BCS standings. They've actually managed to fall a spot since the season's first standings release on Oct. 19, despite the fact they've won seven straight games.

Carroll, a longtime playoff advocate, has been unusually outspoken in his frustration of late. He made waves a few weeks ago by saying the BCS "stinks." (He's hardly in the minority there.) But the USC coach got particularly defensive following a 17-3 win over Cal on Nov. 8 when reporters questioned his team's inability to accrue "style points" in the low-scoring game.

"I don't care about impressing anybody," he said. "I don't want to win a popularity contest."

Excuse me? Pete Carroll bemoaning college football's unofficial "popularity" contest? That's like the prettiest girl in school saying she doesn't want to win Prom Queen based on her looks.

No program in the country has received more swooning over the past six years than USC.

• In 2002, USC's breakthrough year under Carroll, the 11-2 Trojans won their last eight games, prompting many fans and media to proclaim them "the best team in the country right now." Never mind the fact that year's national champion, Ohio State, had gone 14-0.

• In 2003, AP voters were enamored enough with the 12-1 Trojans to proclaim them national champions, despite the fact they did not play in the BCS National Championship Game.

• In 2005, ESPN devoted a special series leading up to that year's title game debating whether 12-0 USC was the greatest team of the past 50 years. This was right before USC went out and lost to Texas.

• In 2006, USC suffered its first regular-season loss in three years, 33-31 at Oregon State, and dropped from No. 3 to No. 8 in the BCS . Within two weeks, they were back up to No. 3 and would have played Ohio State for the title before losing to 6-5 UCLA.

• In 2007, the Trojans lost not once, but twice -- including to 41-point underdog Stanford -- yet when SI.com held a "Virtual Playoff" in December, the readers voted USC the projected champ.

• Finally, at the start of this season, the Trojans leapt from No. 3 to No. 1 in the polls on the strength of a 52-7 opening-week rout of Virginia. Following their 35-3 rout of Ohio State, Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke wrote: "You can stop debating the identity of the best team of the coach Pete Carroll era, because, in four months, everyone will agree. This will be it."

Twelve days later, USC lost at Oregon State again. This time, for whatever reason, the Prom Queen's once-adoring friends couldn't run to the exits fast enough.

The Trojans, media darlings for the bulk of this decade, find themselves in the unusual predicament of flying below the radar. Only one of their past five games has been picked up by ABC, and they rarely come up in discussions about the various BCS championship scenarios.

As of now, they're getting boxed out of the title game by a monopoly of Big 12 (Texas Tech, Texas and Oklahoma) and SEC (Alabama and Florida) teams above them. Adding insult to injury, they may get squeezed out of the Rose Bowl, too, by their tormentors from Corvallis, now 7-3.

And everybody seems to be pretty much fine with this -- even their fans.

"The Oregon State loss kind of created this hangover that hasn't gone away," said Ryan Abraham, publisher of the fan site USCFootball.com. "The fans still look out at the national landscape and try to figure out a way where they can go to the national championship [game], but there's not as much complaining [about the Trojans' ranking]. Everyone kind of realizes, all we had to do was beat Oregon State and we wouldn't have these issues."

USC's plight stems from far deeper than just that one game in Corvallis. If that were the case, fans and pundits would rightly point out that 9-1 Florida, currently ranked two spots above the Trojans, suffered a more damning defeat just two days later, losing at home to Ole Miss (currently 6-4).

USC's biggest problem is its conference, the Pac-10, which lost considerable credibility the first month of the season when nearly all its teams suffered embarrassing nonconference losses. Most notably, the Mountain West went 6-1 against the Pac-10 -- including No. 7 Utah beating potential league champion Oregon State.

As a result, the Trojans have been unable to make headway because the teams they're beating carry such little respect nationally. Come the final standings, Ohio State may well be the lone ranked team that USC defeated (though Oregon is currently 24th). Conversely, if Florida wins out, it will have beaten four teams in the current poll -- No. 1 Alabama (in the Dec. 6 SEC title game), No. 11 Georgia, No. 18 LSU and No. 23 Miami.

Meanwhile, much of the spotlight that once hovered over USC stars like Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush has shifted to the heartland, where Big 12 powers Texas Tech (10-0), Texas (9-1) and Oklahoma (9-1) have captivated the nation with their high-flying offenses and superstar quarterbacks. The second-ranked Red Raiders and fifth-ranked Sooners will stage yet another primetime Big 12 clash Saturday. While it remains to be seen how that league's frenzied title race will play out, it seems almost certain that at least one of the three teams will remain above USC, setting up a likely collision in Miami with the SEC champion.

The Trojans haven't helped themselves, either, with their often spotty performances against the Pac-10's teams outside of Washington.

While USC's defense remains the most dominant in the country, allowing just 8.3 points per game, its offense has been disappointing, scoring just 17 points in wins over Arizona and Cal. Quarterback Mark Sanchez, while boasting a 26-to-7 touchdown-to-interception ratio, has averaged less than 200 yards passing his past six games. Highly touted tailback Joe McKnight, beset by injuries and academic issues, has not scored a touchdown since the first game of the season. And the Trojans have racked up 83 penalties, more than all but six teams nationally.

USC's coaches have relied on conservative game plans. They ran the ball on 43 of 61 plays last week against Stanford, a game that remained tied nearly into the fourth quarter. It's a luxury they can afford with such a stout defense. "I love the way we're playing and we're not going to change that," said Carroll, whose team still ranks 14th nationally in total offense (451 yards per game).

Yet their recent performances have failed to stave off the critics.

Plaschke, changing his tune from earlier in the season, wrote after the Cal game: "[The Trojans] wasted a memorable defense with a forgettable [offensive] attack that now has little chance of even sneaking them into the national title game."

"Half-champs, that's what, more and more, accurately describes the Trojans," wrote Orange County Register columnist Jeff Miller.

Even the letters-to-the-editor section of the L.A. Times has turned into a referendum on Carroll's team. "Telegram to Pete Carroll," wrote Craig Tepper of Santa Monica, Calif. "Me. Longtime SC football fan. ... You. Not top five team this year. Stop whining."

There remain scenarios where USC could rise to the top two. Were Florida to get upset next week at Florida State, then turn around and beat Alabama, the Trojans would likely surpass both SEC teams. Or perhaps Missouri will knock off whichever team emerges from the Big 12 South in that league's title game.

If that were to happen, no sane person would discount the Trojans' chances, regardless of the foe. If anything, it would be intriguing to see whether Rey Maualuga, Brian Cushing, Taylor Mays and Co. would shut down a Graham Harrell or neutralize a Tim Tebow.

Yet you don't hear too many folks outside of L.A. clamoring for such a match-up. Most people don't want to see yet another USC vs. Big Ten Rose Bowl, either. (USC would most likely face a Big 12 team in the Fiesta Bowl if Oregon State goes to Pasadena.)

It seems the college football world has simply lost interest in the Trojans. It's like they've been eating the same flavor ice cream for five years and they're ready to try something new. USC's own fans are suffering a similar apathy.

"The fans have seen this play out before the past few years," said Abraham. "Oregon State was like the last straw. Fans were like, 'I'm sick of losing to teams that aren't all that good.' "

It seems the public's blind faith in Carroll and his stockpile of five-star recruits simply isn't there this year. The mileage he earned from that 34-game winning streak in 2003-05 has finally worn off.

The Prom Queen's still pretty hot, but there are a couple of new girls on the scene that everybody's talking about.

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sanchez has averaged less than 200 yards per game the last 6 games and joe mcknight no touchdowns after game 1.. wth is going on out there in southern cal.. i mean they are playing creampuffs.

I've only caught bits and pieces of their games...but I am kind of at a loss as to why their offense has struggled. It's not like the defenses are all that tough out there. I know they're not stacked at receiver like they have been in the past, but with the running backs and Sanchez I expected their O to put up more numbers.

Their D is legit...but at the same time they do play teams like UW and Washington State...

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that's okay Ethanga62890 is actually becoming a duke fan.. :lol: :P

:lol:

I've only caught bits and pieces of their games...but I am kind of at a loss as to why their offense has struggled. It's not like the defenses are all that tough out there. I know they're not stacked at receiver like they have been in the past, but with the running backs and Sanchez I expected their O to put up more numbers.

Their D is legit...but at the same time they do play teams like UW and Washington State...

I'm in the same boat as you, in regards to the offense strugling. They should be putting points up on everyone we've played but it hasn't been the case. Some of it is play calling, and other times Sanchez is off. Sanchez has a really bad habit of locking on to his first receiver, in addition to that he goes for the big play a lot, instead of going for the first down / safe throw. That and they refuse to give McKnight the ball, even when he is healthy. I really don't like the fact that they try split the load between 3-4 RB's, it doesn't make sense. IMO they need to split the carries between CJ Gable & McKnight with Stafon Johnson coming in every now and then....

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:lol:

I'm in the same boat as you, in regards to the offense strugling. They should be putting points up on everyone we've played but it hasn't been the case. Some of it is play calling, and other times Sanchez is off. Sanchez has a really bad habit of locking on to his first receiver, in addition to that he goes for the big play a lot, instead of going for the first down / safe throw. That and they refuse to give McKnight the ball, even when he is healthy. I really don't like the fact that they try split the load between 3-4 RB's, it doesn't make sense. IMO they need to split the carries between CJ Gable & McKnight with Stafon Johnson coming in every now and then....

Ahh...gotcha! I can feel you on both fronts. Although I think people have piled on Stafford a little too much this season considering the line issues...he still tries to force some in (although I think a big part of that is the playcalling and defense have allowed us to get behind and I can't be too mad at him trying to lead us back when we're down big late)...and up until last year our offense always did the RB by committee thing...WAY TOO MUCH IMO.

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Virginia

Ohio State

Oregon State

Oregon

Arizona State

Washington State

Arizona

Washington

California

Stanford

Notre Dame

UCLA

If Pete Carroll truly and honestly is perplexed as to why the Trojan have virtually no shot of playing in the national championship game after looking at that, then USC should fire him immediately for being mentally incapable of running their program any longer.

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Virginia

Ohio State

Oregon State

Oregon

Arizona State

Washington State

Arizona

Washington

California

Stanford

Notre Dame

UCLA

If Pete Carroll truly and honestly is perplexed as to why the Trojan have virtually no shot of playing in the national championship game after looking at that, then USC should fire him immediately for being mentally incapable of running their program any longer.

Come on now, you don't honestly think Carroll doesn't know why he has a slim-to-none chance of playing in the NCG? Of course he knows, USC screwed the pooch with the lost to Oregon St., and some other....ugly wins I guess.

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Come on now, you don't honestly think Carroll doesn't know why he has a slim-to-none chance of playing in the NCG? Of course he knows, USC screwed the pooch with the lost to Oregon St., and some other....ugly wins I guess.

that's what happened.. you guys didn't dominate and destroy an easier schedule which is why you don't have the national love.. when they see uf destroy everyone and they see usc barely beat teams that you guys should have destroyed. i think usc is seeing what happens to teams like uga who don't get style points and just get wins..

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