Sun Nov 01 12:29am EDT
Oregon 47, USC 20. There will be plenty of time later to put the Ducks' unprecedented offensive explosion into its proper historical context (check back in the a.m., because the numbers compared to any existing precedent against a Pete Carroll defense will be stunning). For now, though, just appreciate how far Oregon has come in two months.
I didn't want to put it so bluntly at the time, but after Oregon's opening-night flop at Boise State the early verdict seemed to be that Chip Kelly was in over his head. It wasn't just the LeGarrette Blount punch in the post-game -- the Ducks were a muddled disaster from the opening gun, totally impotent on offense, while Kelly was allegedly disrespected by his players and undermined by his boss, former coach Mike Bellotti, who was spotted giving Kelly advice on the sideline long before Blount's outburst etched the night in infamy. The unveiling of the Kelly era could not have gone more poorly, and cast immediate doubt on the experiment.
Fifty-eight days and seven straight wins later, it couldn't be more triumphant, or look like more of a nightmare for any poor defense that happens to cross its path. USC has lost Pac-10 games before -- seven now in four years -- but none have been so clearly demystifying as this one; a 27-point pantsing to fall two games behind the new, undisputed conference frontrunner (not including the tiebreaker, which the Ducks now own) is a "king has no clothes" kind of victory.
We wondered before the season if the Trojans were vulnerable, if the freshman quarterback and wholesale departures from last year's dominant defense and new coordinators on both sides of the ball harkened the end of SC's seven-year run at the top of the conference. Still, it was too unthinkable to predict in August, and even after the shocking September loss at Washington, the Trojans' subsequent blowout win over Cal, high-scoring escapes against Notre Dame and Oregon State and long history of dominating big games made them the safer bet tonight in Eugene.
So much for the benefit of the doubt: Barring an unbelievable turn of events -- i.e. Oregon losing twice down the stretch and a convoluted tiebreaker scenario breaking in the Trojans' favor -- USC's run as Pac-10 king is absolutely finished, and it's not a dignified death. No, the Trojan dynasty croaked loudly, messily and publicly, in a grisly fashion that might elicit as much stunned pity from the long-suffering commoners around the conference as glee. They have to deal with a new tyrant now, anyway, an upstart that dresses garishly, has plenty of money behind it and doesn't look any more forgiving than the old one.