Saturday, October 07, 2006

No Trojan Victory, No Peace!

#3 USC vs. Washington

With each week the USC Trojans seem to regress. This Saturday they narrowly defeated the Washington Huskies 26-20, but not without some help from the new clock rules and the refs.

Here's the situation: Mario Danielo kicked a field goal with 1:34 left in the game to extend the lead to six points. The ensuing kickoff goes for a touchback. Under the old rules, the Huskies would have started on their 20-yard line with 1:34 still on the clock. With the new (and horrendous) clock rules, time runs off as soon as the ball is kicked. So while the football sailed in the air and into the endzone, Washington lost precious seconds. Furthermore, the clock now starts as soon as referee blows the ball in play on first down. It used to be that time didn't begin until the ball was snapped. Again, Washington lost time to mount a comeback.

Now here's where things get real crazy.

Washington eventually makes it to the Trojan 34 with about ten seconds left. Husky QB Isaiah Stanback completes a pass to Sonny Shackelford, who rumbles through the USC secondary before being tackled on the 15-yard line with five seconds to go. The line judge doesn't blow the play dead until there's two seconds left on the clock. The refs (for some reason) stop play while the first-down chains move. While Washington coach Ty Willingham argues for more time on the game clock, USC coach Pete Carroll insists the 25-second play clock should be running. After about a minute of deliberation, the ref keeps the game clock at two seconds. He resumes play on the field; Washington is caught off-guard. The center doesn't snap in time. Whistles blow. Game Over.

As glad as I am the Trojans won, these new clock rules are horrendous. Washington, despite the bungling zebras, should've had more time to drive down the field. Under the old rules, at least ten seconds should've been on the clock, enough for the Huskies to pull off a potential huge upset. I've written about this before but it bears repeating: see WeHateTheNewClockRules and its righteous cause. Somehow I think more than 39 Washington fans will support the site before the weekend's up.

Anyway, back to the Trojans. Pedestrian playcalling, injuries and youth are taking their toll. This team has teetered on the brink of a loss the past two Saturdays. Message boards, talk radio programs, sports blogs, SC fans, students and alumni feel a Trojan loss in '06 (excluding the Rose Bowl) is inevitable.

If the Trojans indeed taste defeat, watch out. Their fanbase (bandwagon and all) won't be happy.

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