At halftime of the Oregon State-Southern Cal game, Jon Franz, the co-author of The Rivalry, Esq, called me to talk about the 21 point deficit No. 1 USC was facing. As I exalted the brilliant gameplanning by the OSU coaches and the Beaver offensive line play, he interrupted me with a telling remark: "Come on, this isn't going to hold up, USC has to come back and win, right?" Jon couldn't adjust to the idea that Southern Cal, the #1 team in America and one of the greatest college football programs of all time, was being thoroughly dominated by a team that I said (in my Pac 10 preview) had been "gutted like a Pacific Salmon" and would win 5 games.
Parity is the Word in Big Time CFB These Days
How did the world of college football come to inhabit so many well matched teams?
Some proof lies in the way Oregon State went about dispatching USC last night. The Beavers coaching staff adjusted their offensive formations to fit exactly how they thought USC could be defeated. Knowing that USC lost its All America DT Sedrick Ellis and wouldn't be as strong up front, the Beavers ditched their pass happy offense (43 passes per game) and went to a power running scheme. OSU ran its 180 lb. scatback right up the middle, using a brilliant blocking plan to tie up the outside LB or DE who was crashing down on the play. Result: Almost 200 yards rushing and long, sustained drives that shortened the game.
Don't forget to submit your picks for our weekly competition. If you win, you get to write whatever you want about college football (in 500 words) on the main page of The Rivalry, Esq. Read Week 2 winner Bama Hawkeye's diatribe here.
This victory was built on brilliant scouting, the ability to change offensive philosophies, and decent recruits playing solidly. It was next to impossible to combine these winning intangibles 20 years ago. (Side Note: From 1968 to 1999, Oregon State lost 25 straight games to USC. Since then, the Beavers have beaten the Trojans three times, even though USC has been at the zenith of the college football world). In the modern CFB world, supposedly "mid level" programs like OSU are extremely similar to behemoths of college football like Texas, Oklahoma, Florida. In BCS conferences, everyone has a strength coach (or 5), everyone has top notch recruiting tools, and everyone has access to new or different offensive philosophies. Sure, it's cool if Reggie Bush calls you on the phone to ask you to come to USC, but having lunch with Chad Johnson ain't bad either. I'm sure these scenarios are illegal, but you get the idea.
Quote from a Georgia fan on an OSU Website: I'm still pulling for y'all, but I'd be lying if I said I thought there was a chance in the world of the Beavers getting the win.
Photo Credit: AP Press