It’s only September. There are nine games left, plenty of opportunity to claw its way back up the polls. The other contenders for the top two spots in the BCS will probably slip up also. Upheaval is the nature of the beast. By late November, college football fans will once again be calling USC the best team in the land, and that tremor that came out of Corvallis on Thursday night will be a faint memory.
Well, not so fast.
This is a little different. As I’ve pointed out in the past, we no longer live in the age of spin. This is the age of clarity. People are savvier these days, and they’re more likely to sip the Kool-Aid rather than guzzle it without thinking.
The Trojans didn’t just hurt their chances to play for a national title, they slaughtered them.
This was Stanford all over again, but with a few new wrinkles. Instead of falling at the Coliseum, USC lost to the Beavers before a packed house of crazed venom merchants. Instead of the Trojans being ranked No. 2, this time they were numero uno. Instead of John David Booty looking ineffective and mistake-prone, it was Mark Sanchez.
But what will be the same is this: The Trojans will pick themselves up and carry on, smarting from a lesson learned the hard way.
The trouble is, they should have learned this lesson already, and that’s why voters will punish them from here on. They supposedly got their Stanford out of the way last year. They were determined not to let another such calamity happen again this season.
But all they did was deposit their annual pile of dung earlier on the schedule in 2008. Last season they lost to Stanford in the fifth game of the year, on Oct. 6. The year before, they released their torrent of flop sweat on Oct. 28, also in Corvallis. In both cases, they finished strong and made an inspired case for why they should play for the national championship. Each time, they were handed the consolation prize of a Rose Bowl berth.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, getting thoroughly dominated by a mediocre team comprised of the recruiting equivalent of table scraps scores few points in the eyes of voters. The Trojans should consider themselves quite lucky to get another Rose Bowl nod after this season. Remember, it works the other way, too: Losing in September means there’s plenty of time left for them to drop another conference game, and then college football’s version of the walking dead — Holiday Bowl representatives — will suck the life out of the program by scaring away recruits.
And even if one of those teams falls, it probably won’t do so to an Oregon State. The perception of Pac-10 schools is shaky to begin with, but this season teams from the Mountain West conference have looted their homes and stolen their loved ones. The last vestige of honor in the league was USC, but the Trojans threw up on their shoes. Not pretty.
DPS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban was recently trash-talked by colleagues, and he tells Dan Patrick he wishes he was spoken to in private prior to the insults.
Oregon State upsets No. 1 USC
Slideshow: A look at the Beavers' surprising 27-21 win.
Video: Football from NBC Sports
Saban hurt by colleagues' comments?
DPS: Alabama head coach Nick Saban was recently trash-talked by colleagues, and he tells Dan Patrick what he think of these comments.
BCS title game
Pregame color, key plays and other moments from 'Bama's blowout win.
Check out the action from the postseason.
Check out which players were best of the best at each position.
Check out some of the college football cheerleaders from across the country.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.