By halftime of USC’s game versus Cal, a legitimate discussion could be had about when it was appropriate to switch the rallying cry of “Beat the Bears!” to “Beat the Farm!”
Of course, you could argue that even as Trojan fans were calling out the former, they were really thinking the latter.
The simple fact is, Cal, despite their rich football history, has hardly presented a challenge for the Trojans in the past decade.
While Cal made it semi-interesting in the second quarter with 14 unanswered points, the game was never in doubt. Not after Nelson Agholor burst through the punt coverage unit on his first touch of the game for a 75-yard touchdown. Not when Buck Allen book-ended those 14-points with a long scoring run and an even longer scoring catch.
The Bears had no answer for USC’s play-makers on offense. That much was clear when Agholor provided one of the highlights of the day on another punt return, this time for 93-yards.
USC’s 62-28 drubbing of the Bears was their tenth straight victory over their rivals to the north. It was their fourth by more than three touchdowns in that span. It was also the most points the Trojans have scored in the series since 1930.
Unfortunately, things have been much less rosy when it comes to the other northern California university.
Stanford owns a 5-4 record over the Trojans in the same time span, including five victories in six years. Coming into this weekend, the Cardinal have a four game winning streak, their longest in the series.
As a result, just as USC holds a mental edge over Cal, Stanford maintains a psychological advantage over the Trojans.
Three years in a row, the men of Troy have been within striking distance of breaking the streak. Three years in a row, Stanford has found a way to win.
“I just watched last year’s game, and there were some things that we did really well, but we did not make the play when we had to,” Orgeron said during his Sunday presser. “They were tight games, and they made the plays when they had to, and we didn’t.”
In the game Orgeron refers to, USC led at the half despite two Matt Barkley interceptions. They gave up just 14 second half points, but were held scoreless themselves and lost.
The previous year, they lost a heart-breaker in overtime, but emerged the better for it as the near-upset of the #6 Cardinal seemed to spark the season into gear.
This upcoming game could have the same effect, with USC still in the hunt for the Pac-12 South title.
It would be a major upset, but one that seems within the realms of possibility even though it appeared longer than a long shot just over a month ago when the Trojans were being hammered by Arizona State and Lane Kiffin was on his way to losing his job.
Big wins over Oregon State and Cal have given USC momentum. Sometimes that’s all you need.
The nation appears to agree with the assessment that the Trojans could give Stanford a game. Vegas opened the betting lines with Stanford favored by a shockingly low three points. The game was given a primetime television spot and ESPN has also decided to host their College Gameday program on campus in light of the potential for drama.