It was an arrogant day and night. All around. I had bought a bottle of champagne before noon, hung out poolside at the Four Seasons, got a little eucalyptus steam room action in, drank the champagne all before the game kicked off. Like last year with the Oregon game when I got married, I was celebrating my anniversary this weekend. Even my wife, who did not go to a football school (although she got to see a Harbaugh National Title at USD) loved this game, even if the outcome wasn’t perfect.
Immediately upon waking up, I knew we were back. Not “back” like the Pete days, but rather we were going to see what Kiffin’s Trojans looked like on the ascent. I was getting widespread reports of ESPN getting rid of signs mentioning “Arrogant Nation”. If anyone has any insight into what that is, I’d love to kn0w. I have friends that work there, people who write there I am friendly with, but yes, I talk a lot of shit about the four-letter network. I know they are aware of the blog, I am just curious how Arrogant Nation was somehow more offensive than the sanctions posters that made it through and not one, BUT TWO, hilarious “penis” posters. My favorite?
I mean, I didn’t think a penis-joke related sign could be so damn clever, but somehow this managed to ascend to a commentary on the average fan shamelessly using ESPN’s name in a sign to get on television even if it means using awful English and selling your soul. This sign was so deep it needed a lifeguard watching it.
The entire day was Andrew Luck praising, right from the moment I woke up. I literally thought when he threw a pick-six, they were going to compliment him for hitting our defender right in the numbers.
The truth about this game was that we won the arrogant victory by a landslide and lost the game on the field by a hair. Let’s start with the arrogant victory.
10 points in the first half. ESPN was terrified of what this meant. They have been conflicted all week between us being a broken, unranked team and being a huge feather in Luck’s Heisman fedora. Of course, we don’t demand them to make any sense (or for Merrill Hodge to wear a reasonable tie), so we have to listen to the paradox of USC being way outgunned and lucky to compete but at the same time this being an amazing test for the freakiest looking QB in history.
That said, a sanctioned team dropped ONE slot in the AP after losing a home game. That is arrogant. Stanford vaulted into the National Title discussion thanks to us. The fact is, Stanford isn’t winning the “title” this year. They may not make the Rose Bowl. USC however, creeped up on the universe again. That was a sold-out Coliseum and that was a lot of arrogance.
Andrew Luck wore his helmet in that tight way that scrunches his face together which wasn’t helping at all. Neither was him doing that laugh every time he felt Stanford got a bad call (which we’ll get to later).
There was one thing we didn’t do that would have probably won the game and arrogant battle at the same time. It was go for two in the first overtime. We can’t go to a bowl. Stanford all day was on their heels and the world knew it. Yes, yes they came back, Andrew Luck, my hero. That said, they were losing more than they were winning. They were mortal all afternoon and night and everyone saw it.
When you get to overtime with nothing to lose against a team that deep down knows this is their last chance at a big bowl season for years (sorry guys, in case you were still curious, Shaw ain’t no Harbaugh and well, you are Stanford), you just go for it and end it. Kiff, I love you man. That said, you are the master of going for two. You should have Coach Taylor’d that shit. Clear eyes, full hearts… Go for two.
Now, onto the game. This was a great game. Stanford played resilient football post Harbaugh, like those still moving octopi Bourdain eats when he goes to markets in Asia. I don’t know if I have enjoyed a USC game that much in a while and I enjoy all of them.
The thing is, we got pretty jobbed. I don’t usually say this kind of thing. I usually just say what happens happens. But it is hard to ignore the calls in this game and for the first time, I have to side with Kiffin about putting in a complaint.
Here’s the thing. When the whole world needs Stanford to win, when the NCAA wants to prove sanctions actually hurt teams and when ESPN’s coverage of the NFL Draft is largely based on public interest of a man so hideous his completion percentage is largely based on the fact most cornerbacks don’t want to look at him a la Medusa, you have to watch the calls.
This is a billion dollar industry and there isn’t a sport around that hasn’t dealt with corruption. Think about human nature. A game like this needs to be called EXTRA fair. Four calls stand out in a big time way. For the Stanford people reading this, try and be objective for a moment. I know it is hard because you know you won’t be this good forever and part of you knows a loss to Oregon might mean you are in the Holiday Bowl, which being that I don’t believe in anything but the Rose Bowl, is the same thing as being sanctioned. That said, just try.
Full disclosure, Farm people. I am not sour grapes. That was a hell of a football game. It ranks in my top four most exciting USC games since I was enrolled. We lost THREE of the FOUR games I am speaking of. Cal in 03, Notre Dame and Texas in 05 and now this. When you know your team will win again in your lifetime, and probably often and you combine it with the fact that over the last decade you’ve blown out more teams than have competed with you, you gain that perspective.
This was an instant classic and cheers to you on your victory. We’ll have plenty more and frankly, if this game didn’t make my ultimate homeboy Matt Barkley want a senior year, nothing will. All in all, a good day for Trojan football as much as we’d like a win.
That said, let’s start with the no-call pass interference on Robert Woods in the endzone in the first quarter. In a game that went to 3OT, it matters. I have never seen a worse no-call in my life (I’ve seen plenty of equally bad no-calls, but none worse). Face guarding, contact, in the endzone on a marquee player. Had that been an isolated incident of inexplicable calls, I’d have let it go.
T.J.’s hit coming over the middle for unnecessary roughness. All week you hear Stanford kills teams with their quarterback who is unstoppable and their middle of the field passing attack. They have been passing on you there all day. A receiver is bobbling the ball and then gets laid out with a big SHOULDER FIRST hit and gets called hard. Are we supposed to teach our DB’s to let the receiver bobble it and try to catch it? I’d get it if it was a clear helmet to chest tackle or something malicious, but that was just a hard-nose hit to prevent a bobbled-catch. Maybe the ball was getting away, but it was tipped, leave no doubt. It’s football. That was awful.
Next, the Stanford holding penalty. Can anyone explain the spot of that foul? Can anyone explain how it became 2 and 7 and not 2 and 15? No, they can’t. Can’t wait to hear Larry Scott’s version.
But then, the worst one I can think of. The lack of giving USC a time-out at the end of the game. You can see it on the game tape, Kiffin getting assurance that he’d get a time-out if the ruling showed Woods was down with 1 second left. It was totally bogus. There is no way that happens to Stanford the other way around.
So, we’ll hear what the Pac says about it, my guess is it sounds a lot like everything else we hear from them or the NCAA. Cam Newton? Innocent. Ohio State? Wrist slap. Miami? Pass the cocaine. More rough reffing against USC? Reggie Bush took money from a guy not related to the school.
I am proud of USC. Hell, I was proud of Stanford. That looked like their first test. What I know is that we’re going a great direction. I was so stoked after the game because part of me knew that if Matt comes back, we may get another Rose Bowl and SOON. Our team grew up. This reminded me most of that 03 Cal lost after which we didn’t lose for years. Who knows how this season ends, but if Matty stays, I know how next season starts.
It was a blast (and so was the hotel driving us to dinner which I postponed twice in a Rolls Royce Ghost) and that game did our school proud. Good LUCK (womp womp) to the Cardinal the rest of the way out, we played so well we put them in the picture for a National Title, and in that, our arrogance is cemented. And… If they choke, that will be funny too.
For us, it proves again the road to anything good in the Pac-12 leads through Troy. For all the hell I give Andrew Luck, he was terrific. Let’s move on and up.
See you for the AGP on Thursday. FTFO.
Oh yeah, thanks for this Deadspin! So Shrektastic. Click this picture to be grossed out.