2002 Rewind: USC-Oregon

If you want to circle a moment when USC “arrived” during the Pete Carroll era, it would be hard to say to find a bigger victory than the Trojans’ 44-33 victory over Oregon at Autzen Stadium.

USC started the season 3-2, then held on for a 30-28 victory over Cal and defeated Washington at the Coliseum, 41-21.

But going to Autzen Stadium and winning for another matter. USC had not won there since 1993. And in those days, the Pac-10 had some weird scheduling quirks where USC played at Autzen in 2001 and in one stretch, three straight times in the rivalry.

In 2002, USC was No. 15 and Oregon No. 14 in the nation. The Trojans trailed, 19-14, at halftime but then scored 20 straight points in the third quarter to put the game away.

Carson Palmer passed for 448 yards and five TDs, Justin Fargas rushed for 139 yards and Mike Williams caught 13 passes for 126 yards and two TDs.

What else happened?

Carroll told me he was so upset with the way Oregon fans reacted and the ugly comments they made in 2001 as the Trojans walked from the locker room to the field, that he had a staffer videotape USC’s entrance in 2002 just to document any potential ugliness.

When USC returned from Eugene, Mike Garrett wanted a Heisman Trophy campaign mounted for Carson Palmer. USC traditionally did not do campaigning, but it sent out stuff in the mail to voters all over the nation about Palmer the following week.

The game put Palmer into Heisman contention and, of course, he eventually won the award.

9 thoughts on “2002 Rewind: USC-Oregon

  1. After the Oregon game, they ran the table, winning by roughly 30 points per game, including beating Iowa in the RB and destroying ND.

    I believe that they played either 9 or 10 ranked teams that year. Carson clearly deserved the Heisman.

    Liked by 6 people

      1. No. 67 not bad. If he says it’s the Rose Bowl…..

        Liked by 4 people

    1. I still remember the look of shock in the eyes of the ruin faithful at the Rose Bowl as Carson ran and passed SC to a easy 52-21 victory, costing Boob Toledo his job.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Whatever remaining fantasies the ruins had of being a NC contender in 1998 were beaten out of them that fine day in Pasadena. I still remember Carson running for a first down in the 4th quarter and being upended and jumping back up. The Trojans were having so much fun that glorious day in 2002. We all knew the Trojan Dynasty was back.

        Liked by 3 people

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