In the aftermath of USC’s deflating loss to Stanford, Twitter was ablaze with people reacting to the loss, many of which were in melodramatic fashion. Yes, USC lost to Stanford. For an unprecedented fourth time in a row. And yes, the team did not look like the No. 2 team, or even a top 10, for that matter. We saw USC’s O-line leave Matt Barkley and the running game hanging, and when it was not being the source of USC’s anguish, Barkley just did not play well at all. He left the field with his head hung low, walking dejectedly; his body language reflecting his mental state and that of all the fans that watched USC’s dreams of going to Miami shatter before their eyes.
Or did they?
Even though the loss to Stanford is hard to stomach, this is surely not the end of the line for the Trojans. They still have a long season ahead of them to prove their worthiness, and it starts next week by bouncing back and beating Cal with extreme prejudice. USC has walked this road before, and if history is any indication of future behavior, then Lane Kiffin and his squad have nothing to worry about.
4. The Trojans Have Been Here Before And Bounced Back Each Time
In each of USC’s past four seasons, the Trojans have dropped their first or second conference game. In 2008 it was Oregon State, then Washington in ’09, Washington again in ’10, ASU in ’11, and now Stanford. Each of these losses stung, hurt, and dazed the Trojans and their fans, giving them reason to be nervous about the rest of the season to come. Even in seasons when the Trojans didn’t drop the first conference game, they on occasion lost high-pressure match ups against conference foes, like in 2003 against Cal. In that season–and from 2006-2008–the Trojans played with more fire and desire and demolished the rest of their opponents on their way to a Rose Bowl berth. Last season, after the Trojans lost to ASU in embarrassing fashion, they played like a completely different team from then out. They went toe-to-toe with Andrew Luck and later got the best of Chip Kelly and the Oregon Ducks in a sold-out crowd at Autzen Stadium. Had the Trojans not tasted bitter defeat at the hands of the Sun Devils, it is likely they would not have had the grit to defeat the Ducks, trounce UCLA 50-0 and end the season 10-2.
If the Trojans can channel that same energy, they can still handle the rest of their Pac-12 opponents, beat Oregon twice, and make a case for their place in Miami come January.