Back in 2008, USC once again fielded a team that was national championship caliber. It had QB Marc Sanchez at the helm, and a crazy roster of talent with the likes of Joe McKnight, Stanley Havili, Rey Maualuga, Clay Matthews, Brian Cushing, and Taylor Mays. However, in another instance of the “Oregon Curse” proving to be real, the Oregon State Beaver put a hex on the Trojans, beating them 27-21 in the third week of the season. USC would go on to win the Pac-10, but instead of making another appearance in a title game, the Trojans would trek across LA to their home away from home, the Rose Bowl. They took on Joe Paterno and his Nittany Lions, and in that victory they would make history seven times over. For Throwback Thursday, it’s time to turn our attention to:
USC TROJANS: THE YEAR OF SEVENS
From the opening kickoff, USC was on a mission to prove it should have been in the national title game. Some analysts thought that because this matchup pitted a No. 5 USC against a No. 8 Penn State that it would be game that could have gone either way, but USC was having none of that. Marc Sanchez and the offense rained down holy hell on the Nittany Lions, while the No. 1-ranked defense—one that only gave up 7.8 points per game on average—stifled them on the other side of the ball.
In just the first half, USC scored four touchdowns and a field goal on five consecutive drives, against a Penn State team that had only given up 12.4 points per game in the regular season. Before the half Penn State did manage to get on the board but USC still commanded a 31-7 lead.
USC was playing no games with Penn State: If the Trojans couldn’t be in the title contest, it was clear that they had every intention of winning this one with conviction.
In the fourth quarter Penn State scored 17 points but it was too little too late. The Trojans would win the Rose Bowl 38-24, and Marc Sanchez would throw for 413 yards, the second most in Rose Bowl History. En route to this victory they made a ton of history, all of it coincidentally tied to the number seven.
This Rose Bowl victory marked the seventh straight time that USC won the Pac-10, and the seventh straight that it made a BCS bowl game appearance. It also marked seven seasons in a row that USC finished in the Top 4 of the AP Poll, and seven seasons that USC did not lose a game by more than seven points.
Woah. That’s a whole lot of sevens!
Though the Rose Bowl was doubtfully what USC wanted going into the season, ending it in convincing fashion with a victory here would further cement the 2000s as USC’s decade of dominance. We know that that immediately after this season, USC would kind of fall off for two years, only to be revived in 2011 by another number seven: Matt Barkley. He put up crazy stats in his junior year, lead USC to an 11-2 season, and decided to forgo the NFL and comeback for a victory farewell tour in his senior year.
Now, is it a coincidence that in USC’s last dominant season it made history tied to the number seven, and this team is now led by a QB who wears the same number?
Maybe, but it could also be the football gods foreshadowing what is to come.
If history can be trusted, then number seven is indeed a lucky one from Troy, and the 2012 season is about to get real interesting.