Ryan Chartrand

Rain is usually a normal occurrence in Oregon, and even on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Corvallis, Ore., it still managed to pour.

On this day it wasn’t water falling from the sky, though. It was Oregon State’s students pouring onto the field to celebrate one of the biggest victories in school history.

With OSU’s stunning 33-31 victory over the USC Trojans last Saturday, it showed the nation something that many of us already believed – USC isn’t that good.

USC used to be a team that looked like it deserved to play on Sundays. Now the reality is that all the players that made them so dominant actually play on Sundays.

The Trojans may still have some of the most talented players in the nation on their roster, but sometimes it’s impossible to replace certain individuals. They say schools like USC don’t rebuild, they reload, but how do you reload three Heisman Trophy winners in four years? You don’t!

USC had been ranked in the top three in the nation the entire year, but recently many started to question its dominance. The Trojans started the season strong with convincing wins over No. 12 Arkansas and Nebraska. Then they started Pac-10 play where they had won 27 consecutive games, but something wasn’t right. They only beat Washington and Washington State by a combined 12 points. In 2004 and 2005, they beat these schools by a combined 137 points.

Then came Saturday, when OSU hadn’t beaten a team this highly-ranked since O.J. Simpson’s No. 1 Trojans fell to the Beavers in 1967. The only difference between the 1967 and 2006 teams is that Simpson led the Trojans to a national championship. Let’s just get one thing straight, the 2006 team and a national championship don’t even belong in the same sentence.

Over the past several years, Pete Carroll has had two of the greatest players that college football has ever seen. Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush dominated Saturdays like few teammates ever had. Leinart and Bush helped USC become the first school to receive back-to-back Heisman Trophies since Ohio State’s Archie Griffen won his awards 30 years ago.

They helped lead the Trojans to 37-2 record and two national titles. They created a dynasty that will live in the record books forever. Sports fans will never forget these two and what they meant to college football.

But like most things in life, times are cyclical and things change, especially in college football. At the end of the day, it all falls on the man leading the troops. Does Pete Carroll have what it takes to bounce back from this devastating loss? Can he keep the team focused when the city turns on him after back-to-back losses? Fans of the Trojans sure hope so.

Carroll has put his program on such a high pedestal that the only place to go is down. The loss last Saturday could be the start of a long descent downhill for several reasons.

First, USC doesn’t have the explosive speed that it used to have. Or maybe better put, they don’t have Bush to win those games that they should lose.

Second, the Pac-10 isn’t that bad. Cal has a real chance to beat USC later this month and make a push for that national championship game. Granted, a couple teams would have to lose, but even without the losses they’re on course for a BCS bowl game. Oh yeah, did I mention that Oregon and Washington State are both in the top 25.

Not to mention that team in Corvallis just had a pretty good week. The Bruins had Notre Dame beat until Heisman candidate Brady Quinn refused to lose another game to a team from Los Angeles. The Pac-10 is starting to show that the Trojans aren’t the only team on the West Coast worth watching.

Third, to me is a question that is going to be answered very soon – how good of a coach is Carroll? He was outcoached in the title game last year in a 41-38 loss to Texas. He has barely won games this season that were expected to be blowouts. With Oregon, Cal, Notre Dame and UCLA still waiting on the schedule, he will be lucky to escape this season with only three losses.

Bottom line is, USC’s run is coming to an end and everyone else in the country couldn’t be happier.

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