Is there really a Pac-12 championship game tonight? At the Coliseum?
I’ve lost sense of time and this season feels weird with just six regular-season games.
Who wins the game?
I don’t think USC will play a team with as much talent as itself this season, including a bowl game.
But I give Oregon a decent chance of winning this game and I am picking the Ducks, 35-34.
- The key might be how often Oregon fumbles. The Ducks fumbled seven times in five games, which is too high to win games consistently.
- Former USC wide receiver Devon Williams starts at wide receiver for Oregon. Do you think he is motivated to play?
- If Oregon has a wild-card, it’s how often quarterback Tyler Shough runs the ball. USC’s defense has not really faced a running QB and Shough is not afraid to run. He’s been successful at it with 256 yards in 52 carries.
- The question is whether Shough can bounce back from a poor performance against Cal two weeks ago.
- Oregon’s defense is more healthy than it’s been most of the season and has had two weeks to prepare for this game.
- It looks like one of USC’s long-time records will be snapped. Since 1929, the Trojans have appeared in the Rose Bowl during the term of every U.S. President.
- This season saw the earliest kickoff for a USC game (9 a.m.), the second Sunday night game in school history, the latest start to a season since World War I (also caused by a pandemic) and disruptions to several long-time series (Cal, Stanford, Notre Dame).
- When people talk about USC’s easy schedule this season, compare it to 1969, when the Trojans went undefeated against five-ranked teams. USC tied No. 5 Notre Dame in South Bend, defeated No. 9 Michigan in the Rose Bowl, defeated No. 11 Nebraska in Lincoln, beat No. 13 UCLA and beat No. 19 Stanford.
- Did you see former USC wide receiver JuJu Smith-Shuster’s foundation, and the nonprofit Pay Away the Layaway, reportedly paid the bill on $12,500 of layaway goods at Burlington Coat Factory in Compton that helped 88 families.
- There’s been some shuffling on the USC Board of Trustees. Lakers owner Jeanie Buss is no longer a voting member but an honorary member of the board. Alan Casden, who had been a long-time member of the board, is no longer listed.
- And now for some history:
How much would you pay to attend this USC coaches’ clinic in 1959?
You have the “offensive and defensive drills” by John McKay and “new ideas in defense” by Al Davis.
The truth is USC assistant coach Ray George might have been a bigger draw at the time at his “offensive guard techniques” session. George was an actual member of the Thundering Herd teams of 1937-39 and one of the greatest linemen in USC history. He played on the 1938 team that upset top-ranked Notre Dame and previously unbeaten and unscored-upon Duke in the 1939 Rose Bowl.
He later became the head coach at Texas A&M and beat coaching legends Bud Wilkinson (Oklahoma), Red Sanders (UCLA) and Bear Bryant (Kentucky).
The clinic highlights for me would be the “Coke break” at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Yesterday, I wrote about USC’s big victory over UCLA in 1952. One of the heroes was unheralded sophomore Mario DaRe, who got his big break when Bob Van Doren was unable to play in UCLA game because of concussion. DaRe stepped in at defensive right tackle and performed in great fashion.
- Mario’s brother was actor Aldo Ray, who the same year had a starring role in “Pat and Mike” with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Ray had third billing for the movie.
Ray also starred with Humphrey Bogart (We’re No Angels) in 1955 and John Wayne (The Green Berets) in 1968 among his many roles.
He used to attend USC football practices without fanfare to watch his brother. “He was a nice guy and never asked for special favors,” a former USC athletic dept. employee told me.