A part of what makes Pete Carroll so beloved by USC fans is the incredible run he orchestrated for the Trojans. He appeared out of one of the dark ages in USC football, in which the team played in just one Rose Bowl in the 90s, and guided them to five in the 2000s, including four in a row.
USC in Pasadena on New Year’s Day seemed like a regular occurrence. As outlandish as it may sound, some of those trips to the Rose Bowl were consolation prizes.
USC has Oregon State to thank for that.
Corvallis has been cursed for USC over the last 10 years.
In 2006, it was then-No. 3 USC falling to the Beavers 33-31. In 2008, on a Thursday night, No. 1 USC fell 27-21. In both cases, USC’s national title hopes were either severely damaged or lost altogether.
In the case of the 2006 team, they were still in a position to advance to the national title game with the loss at Oregon State on their record, but then “13-9” happened — the program’s regular season ending loss at UCLA.
As for the 2008 team, it was their only loss of the season. Penn State paid for it in the 2009 Rose Bowl.
All told, USC has lost three straight in Corvallis, the last coming in 2010 under then-first year head coach Lane Kiffin.
USC hasn’t won at Oregon State since 2004. For whatever reason, USC hasn’t been able to conquer Corvallis in recent years.
“I hear it is a weird place,” safety Dion Bailey said.
The team is hoping to leave the past in the past and not let that affect them on Friday night. Interim head coach Ed Orgeron wasn’t on the USC staff for the 2006 or 2008 losses but knows very well how past trips have ended for USC.
The first thing Orgeron thought about on Sunday morning following the team’s win over Utah was the difficulty in winning in Corvallis.
He credits Oregon State head coach Mike Riley for the Beavers recent success over USC.
“It’s a tough environment,” Orgeron said. “Those guys seem like they get up to play us, obviously. They do a good job and Coach Riley’s a good coach. That’s No. 1. You got to give them credit.”
Orgeron has blasted the crowd noise, chainsaw sounds included, all week at practice to try to get the team accustomed to what they’re going to go through Friday night.
“It’s going to be an exciting night on Friday,” Orgeron said.
Will it end with the Corvallis curse broken by USC?