SI editors must feel badly about this. Less than an hour after USC’s failed two-point conversion in Corvallis – on yet another tipped pass on a slant with a three step drop, no less – cnnsi.com’s Stewart Mandel posted encouraging words for us.
“… If I were a USC fan, I wouldn’t feel entirely bad right now,” he wrote at 7:42 pm ET (4:42 Pacific). Mandel points out what some of us already knew and what others weren’t willing to admit: that with all the talent lost to the League and an unusual number of injuries, expecting an undefeated straight shot at the national championship was unrealistic. Sure, none of us ever expect three fumbles and crappy punt return coverage against Oregon State … Oregon State. But then Mandel delivers this comfort:
… right when it seemed USC was headed for an all-out meltdown, falling behind 33-10 with 4:51 left in the third quarter, John David Booty, Steve Smith and Co. went out and mounted a near-epic, Leinart-caliber comeback. Booty, after struggling much of the game, started hitting everything, Smith gave a performance for the ages (11 catches, 258 yards, two TDs) and the defense finally quieted Beavers QB Matt Moore. Ultimately, they fell two points short, but only after Booty (who threw for 405 yards and three TDs) drove them 80 yards in two minutes to score the potential game-tying touchdown with seven seconds left.We could come up with this stuff on our own, but for some reason it sounds a little better coming from outside the Trojan Family. Of course, any real Trojan fan won’t stoop to a “wait ‘till next year” attitude just yet, but Mandel’s piece is appreciated nonetheless.
That, more than any of their wins over the past month, tell me the Trojans haven’t completely lost their swagger, and should serve as some solace to all those USC fans out there trying to cope with their first regular-season loss since September 2003. There will likely be at least one more loss before 2006 is over, but I’d be feeling a whole lot better about Booty’s chances of leading a potential title run in ’07.
For now, we’ll file him under “writers we like.” Besides, his post is the least he could do after SI put the inside jinx on us.
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