Don’t Call These Miraculous Trojans Over-Rated!

Column: USC showed breathtaking resilience during its best — and ugliest — win of the season

The cry arose from the delighted Oregon State crowd midway through the first half, thousands of orange shirts bursting with swagger at a USC team that was falling flat on its face.

“Over-rated … over-rated …”

Nope.

Not yet, anyway. Not on this night. Not with this coach. Not with this culture.

Within two minutes of blowing another monumental game at cursed Reser Stadium on Saturday night, something breathtaking happened with what is appearing to be a pretty darn breathtaking Trojans team.

They were terrible, terrible, terrible … then brilliantly terrific.

Caleb Williams was terrible, terrible, terrible … then beautifully tenacious.

The defense was terrible, terrible, terrible … then smartly surly.

The game was lost, then won, then lost again, then was flat stolen with a riveting drive that ended with one last gasp with 1:13 remaining. That’s when Jordan Addison (below, celebrating with Austin Jones) caught a 21-yard sideline bullet from Williams and slipped into the end zone.

Orange crushed. Crowd frozen. Addison waving farewell into the stands. Williams screaming at the turf. All of Corvallis eventually filled with an eerie silence broken only by the sound of the USC players filling their locker room with their fight song.

The Trojans win 17-14 to remain unbeaten and unfazed and anything but overrated.

If anything, the seventh-ranked Trojans are underrated.

“We found a way, and it feels damn good,” said coach Lincoln Riley.

This was not the clean blowout experienced in their first three wins. This was more like the remodeling project that has swallowed half of Reser Stadium and forced the squeezing of 25,000 fans into one side.

This was messy. This was awkward. This was rough. This was the first time the Trojans have not scored a touchdown on their first possession, and the first time they have trailed, and for many long moments it seemed like the first time they would lose.

“I’m probably more proud of this win than the previous three,” said Riley, later adding, “If anything we’ve done up to this point shows the progress we’re making in that locker room, within the walls, the culture, tonight really showed that.”

That new culture made its most obvious appearance with 4:35 remaining and the Trojans trailing by four after an embarrassingly easy 18-yard touchdown run by Jam Griffin.

USC had the ball on its 16-yard line with a quarterback who had been awful and an offense that had gained minus-one yards in its previous two possessions and failed to take advantage of an interception and an Oregon State missed field goal.

This is a team that stunk. But this is team that believes, and you can probably guess what they said to each other in the huddle.

“It’s our time to shine,” recalled Addison.

You can also probably guess what they said to each other on the bench.

“It’s not something that phases us,” said safety Max Williams. “We were saying on the sideline, ‘We do this every week.’”

Caleb Williams threw two passes to Tahj Washington for 23 yards, threw a couple of incompletions and suddenly the Trojans faced a fourth-and-six from around midfield. That doesn’t happen every week. That hasn’t happened this season. What happened next shows this team is as much about the grind as the glamour.

Williams took off running, was surrounded by tacklers, then surrounded by blockers, then eventually was literally pushed to a first down by his offensive linemen. Anyone else see that and think of Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart?

“Those are the moments, right?” said Riley. “That’s what it comes down to. Fourth down and you go to find a way.”

Williams, who was disappointedly not made available to the media after the win, gained seven yards on the play and five snaps later threw the touchdown pass that led to Addison’s wave to the stunned crowd.

“It’s time to go home,” Addison said when asked about the gesture. “Pack it up.”

Williams spent most of the night looking as if he wished he never left home. Even counting that last drive, he was only 16-of-36 passing for 180 yards. At times, it seemed the only person cheering him was Riley, who was visibly tapping his shoulders and staring into his eyes and encouraging him on the bench.

“I said, ‘We’ve been there before, you just got to go play,’” said Riley. “Some days you’re not going to be at your best … how you respond to those moments is what separates you.”

The Trojans completed the night’s separation with their fourth interception, a nab by Max Williams that gives them 11 interceptions in four games while the offense has yet to commit a turnover.

ORE ST receiver Anthony Gould is swarmed by USC’s Ralen Goforth, left, Prophet Brown, center, and Bryson Shaw on Saturday in Corvallis, Ore. (Amanda Loman / AP)

“Really great teams find a way no matter what the circumstances,” said Riley. “We found a way.”

This was indeed their best win in their worst game this season. Perhaps no other USC teams since the Pete Carroll era could survive at Reser despite allowing 153 yards rushing, despite trailing twice and despite being so flustered by the charged atmosphere that they used up all three first-half timeouts early in the second quarter.

The students cursed USC in signs on their dorm windows. They painted their bellies with B-E-A-V-S. Their orange shirts turned the cheering section into a giant, blinding sunset.

“Being able to be in a situation like that, you need games like that to show who you are as a team,” said linebacker Shane Lee. “We haven’t been put in any situation like that before. For us to come up here, back against the wall for most of the game, to be able to fight and keep fighting and fight again.”

They kept fighting even as the public-address system blared the sound of a chainsaw with every third down, even as fans constantly chanted and gestured, even as this crazy half-stadium felt like three stadiums.

Beavers fans cheer after a TD against USC on Saturday night in Corvallis, Ore.
(Amanda Loman / AP)

“Even towards the end, you might lose hope, some teams might lose hope, we still believed and still pushed through,” said Lee.

They literally pushed through, not only with Williams on that fourth-down play, but with Travis Dye gaining 133 yards and scoring on a seven-yard touchdown run, proving he is becoming as much of a weapon as his quarterback.

“If you just keep fighting, keep chipping away, keep chipping away, you’re bound to end up how we did tonight,” said Dye. “These are the moments we live for. This is it.”

This wildly talented and deeply motivated USC football team is indeed plenty of things.

Overrated is not one of them.

latimes.com

________

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volunteerTrojan
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September 26, 2022 7:40 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Or is it “that shooting star that MSU hitched itself too?” Wasn’t he the $100 million dollar man that triggered the wave of astronomical coach salaries of late? Maybe they’re having buyer’s remorse. I’m pretty sure we will not have buyer’s remorse with LR.

volunteerTrojan
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September 26, 2022 8:18 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Funny you mention your upgrade to 10-2. Before the season, I had made the prediction of 10-2, but that USC would beat both ND and ucla based on my assertion that they would be gelling by then. And, that if USC were to be beaten, it would have to be early while they were still getting it together. You then pushed me to identify who the losses would be. I was on the fence, but ended up going with OR St and Utah, both away games, and both at or before the mid-point of the season. So now, if I… Read more »

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September 27, 2022 5:30 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Allen: I’ve upped from 9-3 to at least10-2 as well. I was thinking 9-3 back in Jan-Feb and stuck with it until now. Based upon our remaining schedule and what our future opponents have shown, 11-1 could be attainable. The Utah game will be the toughest and WAZU could be a shootout based upon the Cougars performance against Oregon this past Saturday. It was great to see SC’s Defense step up against the Beavs. LR’s challenge will be to keep that rolling and get the passing game back in gear. USC has been solid in the running game all year… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by rleeholder1
Jamaica
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September 26, 2022 9:26 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I was thinking the same thing. If you saw Tucker’s press conference after the UDUB game, it seemed the press was afraid to ask him any tough questions. And his answers steered them away from the game. It was a joke!

Steveg
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September 27, 2022 6:32 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

One difference between Tucker and LR is that Riley left OU with plenty of time to find a replacement. Tucker on the other hand did not, creating the need for, at that time. anyone available to come in and take over.

volunteerTrojan
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September 26, 2022 7:10 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

He seems like a good kid, but I hope the luxury doesn’t kill his hunger to be great. He still has to work and perform on the field to obtain the even bigger future payday in the pros.

Petero
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September 27, 2022 11:41 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

He better have enough space to seat the OL that pushed him to a game saving 1st down

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John Weld(@johnnynumbers)
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September 26, 2022 6:01 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Socks are white and the leggings are yellow, that doesn’t bother me.

USC1988
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September 26, 2022 6:35 pm
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These guys keep catching the ball like they do … I don’t care if they wear pink tights

Steveg
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September 26, 2022 6:30 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

As long as they don’t put their names on the back I don’t care what they wear on their legs.

USC1988
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September 26, 2022 6:34 pm
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Agree … the yellow tights look cool

volunteerTrojan
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September 26, 2022 6:45 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I’m fine with them. Look fast.

USC1988
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September 26, 2022 6:36 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

LR will never recruit qbs like Slovis or Daniels

volunteerTrojan
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September 26, 2022 6:44 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Also wouldn’t have 0 turnovers since 1 or more of the hypothetical sacks would have been a strip sack.

Petero
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September 27, 2022 11:08 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Most all things Haden, Swan, CH, are far gone out of our rear view mirror
Now its places and teams that will begin to fade. Corvallis is quickly fading, probably never to be seen by USC football again…. We booked our tickets for Big Ten. LR has brought back USC culture that many fans only heard about, never really experienced as adults…NIL is putting a lot of norms into the past as well…. as a wise poet said “For the Times they are a changing”-BD

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September 27, 2022 11:34 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

In wide open offenses, stretching the field vertically & horizontally, always looking to score, the dual-threat QB is now the fad in operating them. But the question I think about, which QB has the stronger-more accurate arm? Pocket or dual? So far I like what Williams’ ability has shown throwing the longer & deep passes. Leinart, TJ, Barkley could thread the needle throwing deep passes. But I have seen many dual threat QBs have trouble connecting on long passes. I think we are fortunate Williams is an exception.

Steveg
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September 27, 2022 12:47 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

What I saw in the game Caleb got pressure when OSU rushed 5. The 4 man rush was strong but our line held up pretty well. OSU would blitz someone coming from next to their edge rusher.

HOF19
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September 26, 2022 5:12 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Always a good thing ………Being Number One at something ….. Fight On !!!!!

Petero
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September 27, 2022 11:33 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I think we can remove the luck from the dialog now.. We have something very special to watch weekly. This coming week I’ll be most excited to watch what happens on D. Every snap is a turn over waiting to happen.. As LR said we need to get the TFL’s, the D will be challenged this week to tackle behind the line…Be curious what NIL deals will start to show up for Gentry, an action figure with arms that stretch beyond? Amazing player.

TrojanRJJ
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September 26, 2022 12:49 pm

Did anyone else notice that Corey Foreman never saw the field in Corvallis. I think he made the trip. Was he hurt? If not, he is now 3rd string, and if Height was not injured, he would be playing on the scout team. If without injury, it shows that LR means business – best players play, pure and simple.

Steveg
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September 26, 2022 11:12 am
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Alabama fits perfectly. Always an easy schedule.

USC1988
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September 26, 2022 6:38 pm
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Saban doesn’t like those … a tough game every once in awhile only

TrojanRJJ
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September 26, 2022 12:26 pm
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That is a WOW. I said at the beginning of the season, SC schedule was tough but doable and in a rung, starting with the weakest and moving to the most difficult by Week 4. These kids have been tested. What I found amazing was Michigan played an even easier schedule than UCLA. I did not think that possible. Starting with the Beavers, in the next 4 weeks, SC will play 3 legit top 25 teams (OSU, WSU, and Utah). And, Wazzu is a legit top 25 team based on what I have seen so far. I think OSU should… Read more »

alfa1
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September 26, 2022 3:16 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

That says a lot and will play a significant role in the Playoff rankings

Petero
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September 27, 2022 11:38 am
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Alabama #100 uc-lala #162 Michigan # 176 Wow.

Steveg
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September 26, 2022 9:02 am

Now with these coaches jobs opening up, the media is running wild with predictions and picks of who should replace these coaches. “Prime” has been named top choice for every single opening, along with Aranda, Campbell, and Fickell. These guys have a season to get through first. What the media will do or write just to get clicks amazes me.

TrojanRJJ
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September 26, 2022 8:47 am

I tried to think of the last team that SC fielded that was capable of doing what this team at Corvallis. Win a game against a very good opponent, who was aroused, confident, and well coached, on the road in a very hostile environment in the 4th Q and on the last drive. Certainly no Helton coached team was capable of this, no Sark coached team, no Kiffin coached team, PC coached teams did it twice that I can think of – the famous Bush Push game, and Matt Barkley game at tOSU. I think John McKay teams did it… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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September 26, 2022 12:33 pm
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You could say that Sam Darnold (all by himself) pulled out a couple of games in the 4th Q. The Rose Bowl is an example (although that was won by Franklin choosing to give the game away with an interception – we dropped the first one and got the second one). His game against Texas at the Coliseum was also amazing (we should have lost that one) and won it by a forced fumble in OT. His game against Utah in the Coliseum was amazing (probably the best second half of collegiate football by any player I have ever seen).… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by TrojanRJJ
satyrdancing
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September 25, 2022 6:58 pm



Jalenbuck1
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September 25, 2022 5:47 pm

Does anyone else believe Williams is hurt and the game plan is run heavy? Williams has been off the last 2 games and the maligned defense has stepped up big time after struggling to stop the run off and on! Maybe Riley is just letting the defense get the spotlight!

USC1988
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September 25, 2022 6:33 pm
Reply to  Jalenbuck1

CW isn’t hurt … maybe his confidence. Starting with 2nd half Stanford, teams started playing zone forcing CW to throw to spots. He is hesitant with that. OSU mixed it even well and had better DBs and rush.
Look for more dink and dunk ( passes to Washington to open final drive ), easy gains on runs to sideline and sliding and dump off to backs. Like Vince Young had to do prior to Rose Bowl vs SC, learn to be patient, take the easy throws and eventually everything will open up.

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September 25, 2022 7:07 pm
Reply to  USC1988

Agree. Well said

Steveg
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September 26, 2022 2:29 pm
Reply to  Jalenbuck1

Trojans 130 passing plays, and 139 rushing plays. LR is running a balanced attack I would say.

Steveg
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September 25, 2022 4:04 pm
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Harsin is out on the plank, one more loss and he is gone.

RialtoTrojan
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September 25, 2022 5:13 pm
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How about the Missouri coach? He’s gotta be hanging on by a thread. His team lost in overtime after stuffing Auburn with no score. All he had to do was kick a field goal to win, but the offense began to click and their running back fumbled on the one yard line reaching for the pylon. It still took Auburn three plays to finally kick a field goal, but to lose like that? Helton’s little brother?
Don’t get me started on Carl Dorell. He had one team to beat…

USC1988
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September 25, 2022 6:37 pm
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His kid doesn’t try switching hands with ball to reach over goal … he wins. Of course his kicker makes a 20 yd FG, he wins again. Then, again if his team doesn’t lineup off sides on Auburn missed FG p, he wins again.
Mizzu lost.

Jamaica
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September 25, 2022 5:35 pm
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What’s keeping both Colorado programs from firing their coaches? The longer those HC’s stay on the job the more likely any good players they stillo have will bolt to the portal. Makes no sense. And George Kliavkoff trying to poison the UCLA move providing the UC board with cost factors, health issues and lost class time in travel requirements playing in the Big Ten.

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September 25, 2022 7:33 pm
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Hope one of them scoops us Jonathan Smith. If ucla and Kelly part ways, I think the bruins make a real push for him. He is a great coach, and would hate for ucla to get him.

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September 26, 2022 7:56 am
Reply to  PN4SC

If Smith were to leave OSU, which he possibly would if the Pac falls apart, which it possibly will, ucla in the B1G would be an attractive move for him. But then there could be an SEC job or two opening up also.

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September 25, 2022 2:22 pm

I wasn’t at all surprised how tough that game was but stunned at how the defenses dominated. I expected a PAC12 style shootout. Just thankful we are 4-0.
As for the Sooners, it was great to see them lose at home to K State. I understand their fan base being bitter about Riley. But when they call into shows saying Lincoln was a terrible coach, and how glad they are that he is gone, they sound like bitter, in bred hillbillies.

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September 25, 2022 4:06 pm
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So Texas Tech beats Texas, Kansas St beats Oklahoma. Will they televise this weeks TTech/K St game? Only on $ESPN3 Makes no sense

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September 25, 2022 5:05 pm
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PN4SC, I ran across an article(I think LATimes) about how crappy the PAC 12 Network is, but the point of the story was that it had to be frustrating for Oklahoma fans who couldn’t watch the game of two unbeaten teams playing for national recognition on a backwater podunk station like that. The writer was imagining throngs of Oklahoma fans updating their Twitter feed every five minutes and searching for anyone who had a password for the game. Be frustrated Oklahoma fans we love living in your heads rent free.

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September 25, 2022 7:34 pm
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Funny, after their loss yesterday, they must feel a little stupid bad mouthing Riley. He did go 55-10 while there.

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September 25, 2022 1:24 pm

The team didn’t panic and lose its composure when it was looking at a 4-point detriment the last 4-5 minutes of the game. The defense did its job keeping the game close enough for the offense to get a score to win and then the D sealed it with a pick. If anything binds a team together, it comes from a win like this one. I think the coaches are going to get a lot more attention this week from the players after this scare. And that might be the best part of this win.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jamaica
HOF19
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September 25, 2022 1:05 pm

My crappy Colts (and they ARE crappy ) just beat the Chiefs .

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September 25, 2022 2:21 pm
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I think Washington should be ahead ahead of Utah and Oregon for sure. Probably too 10

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September 25, 2022 6:39 pm

I like Washington but let’s see how they do in a real road game or two

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September 25, 2022 3:05 pm
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Notice no UCLA. The Bruins have played the weakest schedule in the nation until now. Well, next week they get #15 UW, the week after #12 Utah, and the week after they travel to Eugene to play #13 Oregon. They really played four scrimmages (they would have a harder time playing elite high schools). We will shortly find out how good a team they are.

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September 25, 2022 3:42 pm
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UCLA will definitely lose the next 3 games because their first 4 games were no preparation for Washington, Utah, and Oregon. I expect them to get blown out in all these games. By the time we play them in November, we’ll be firing on all cylinders and will roll on them.

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September 25, 2022 11:58 am

Current Standings After Week 3
(For complete game results you can go to original contest post)

San Diego Trojan 29000
Rialto Trojan 25500
Satyrdancing 23500
BUS83 23000
DubPar22 20000
Golden Trojan 18500
Chris 18500
Trojan RJJ 17250
Troy5543 16000
M/M SteveG 6000
Rock2112 5000 

RialtoTrojan
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September 25, 2022 12:37 pm
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That’s what I get for betting on Colorado to win 😄

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September 25, 2022 5:43 pm
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Good to see you back in the pack Rialto. I was afraid you were gonna run away from us. SDT made some good picks to make up for SC.

RialtoTrojan
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September 25, 2022 9:02 pm
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Honestly I was yelling “keep going” on that last pick Golden, but I’m happy with the win. I am having more fun posting that I lost 15k on Facebook.

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September 25, 2022 11:26 am

USC 6th in AP Poll now …..Fight On !!!!!

HOF19
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September 25, 2022 11:47 am
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We are doing allright ……..Just lets not have that Utah game on our minds a lot right now and take it one week at a time which I trust LR will make sure they are correctly focused …..Fight On !!!!!

TrojanRJJ
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September 25, 2022 3:11 pm
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I thought a great story line last night was the KState QB Martinez, who had transferred over from NE (where he was a three year starter for Frost) and had never won anything. He beat the Sooners almost single-handedly. KState is now ranked. I think this is the first time in his career he has been on a ranked team. The play that I watched was when KState was ahead by 7 and OU was rallying. OU had KState at about mid-field and it was 3rd and 16. Martinez then ran for about 50 yards to the OU four and… Read more »

RialtoTrojan
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September 25, 2022 11:15 am

I have been full of glitches today. I wrote my usual blather this morning and posted it here- I thought but it turned out after reading the responses to my blather from last night I didn’t advance back to this page. So if you want to read my blather you’ll have to go back to the in game chat. I’m number 385. 🤓

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September 26, 2022 6:13 am
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Been there, done that, Rialto. Technology is hard.

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September 25, 2022 10:12 am

Good to know SC could gut it out and win from behind. It says a lot about how quickly this staff was able to mold the transfers and leftovers into a team first, cohesive unit. It’s really amazing that there are no turnovers and so few penalties. Can you imagine how quickly last years team would have imploded in Corvallis last night? Right now, Washington looks like the team to beat. Their turnaround, with the right coach and QB, rivals what Riley has done. I’m happy that the conference is stronger this year.

Chris
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September 25, 2022 10:03 am

I recorded and watched the game this morning. Thrilling and a great win, but ugh, a tough watch for 90% of it.

I also believe Gentry is a crazy difference maker. He might be our best player. That guy is everywhere.

fight on!

Chris
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September 25, 2022 10:24 am
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Yes! Glad he is healthy. He is an easy guy to root for.

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September 25, 2022 10:03 am

Last night was where we get the motto FIGHT ON. You are not at your best, you are struggling, you are losing, the world feels like it is against you. And yet you keep at it, keep chipping away, don’t give up. Then your moment comes and you seize victory from defeat. This should be a character building moment for this team. When you have a bad game against a good team and come out victorious is a very good sign. On another note, last night was a reminder why I don’t put real money on college football and makes… Read more »

HOF19
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HOF19(@hof19)
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September 25, 2022 9:38 am

This is just me but I want Travis Dye to touch the ball 20 times a game …..At Least ……Fight On !!!!!

HOF19
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HOF19(@hof19)
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September 25, 2022 9:35 am

Love (in the post-game presser) our head coach spending a lot of time giving Props to our D ….. Fight on !!!!!

Petero
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September 25, 2022 9:05 am

Coaches & players along with media/fans learned a lot about this team Bev game.. time for team to apply it . Two weeks at home, much can be practiced and played in Asu Wsu games, then Utah..

Game ball to Alex Grinch and the fighting Trojan D… And the MVP of O so far this year..T.Dye

Petero
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Petero(@petero)
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September 25, 2022 9:54 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Have to keep reminding myself the unique way this team coaches/players have come together. LR knew transfer ‘experiment/culture building project before him was a road not yet traveled. For all it’s learning on the ‘run’…
We are here seeing team take shape. Fight On

Petero
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Petero(@petero)
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September 25, 2022 10:20 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Culture is ‘our super power’

Trojans enrolled, and the complete staff, all aspects…

Steveg
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September 25, 2022 9:02 am

Brett Neilon deserves the game ball. Play of the game called the “Neilon Nudge”.

ATL D.D.S.
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September 26, 2022 6:48 am
Reply to  Steveg

The players in the O-line group are the same bunch as last year, with one or two exceptions. I don’t see these guys following the play at anytime last year like they did on the “Neilon Nudge.” Last year they would be standing around watching the play downfield and watching our tackled player get up on his own–no help from his comrades on the line. The culture change is visible with the way the O-line has improved more than any other aspect of the team in my opinion.

volunteerTrojan
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September 26, 2022 8:17 am
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

I agree.

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
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September 26, 2022 12:47 pm
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

Atlanta, Turns out the only unit that Helton recruited talent on was the OL. Problem was he could neither coach it nor develop it. In several other units, the talent recruited by Helton has been almost completely replaced: QB, RB, WR, and LBs. The DBs have a lot of Helton recruits who did not play a lot, but I look for Domani Jackson to replace Ceyair (who was a Helton recruit who did not play last year). The DL is likewise almost all Helton recruits.

TrojanRJJ
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September 25, 2022 8:39 am

It appears the media has adopted the Trojans. This article clearly puts the Trojans in the center of the national debate. It was a great win. One of the better ones in SC lore. But, it is all for naught if the team does not show up next week and play championship ball. That sentence is a bit of an overstatement as the next opponent is ASU, but it is true. And, it turns out that Cal and Wazzu are going to be challenges this year. UCLA is a complete unknown. They have yet to play a top 75 team.

Steveg
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September 25, 2022 9:31 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Do you think the Utah defense can play that defense as well as OSU?

UtahTrojan
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September 25, 2022 11:57 am
Reply to  Steveg

Yes I do. Utah has a much better D line.

ATL D.D.S.
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September 26, 2022 6:51 am
Reply to  Steveg

The announcers were talking about how the OSU DBs were the best unit in the conference because of their skills and experience.