Well, that was interesting. Once a again it was tale of 2 halfs. SC moved the ball well but on the first drive Booty threw a pick and then the line had a missed assignment that turned into a safety. Booty and the offense looked like they were out of sync with over thrown balls and dumb penalties, with 2 false starts on Patrick Turner. Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett both has TD catches and CJ Gable had a big night with 90-plus yards rushing.
The defense played solid all night by keeping Lynch and Jackson in check most of the evening. Nate Longshore did not play well and SC did what we have wanted to see them do all season, put pressure on the QB and force turnovers. Taylor Mays had another INT and Lo-Jack forced a fumble on Longshore. For all of his chin wagging last week DeSean Jackson was rendered ineffective as SC doubled teamed him most of the night. His lack of production became an issue after the game when Jackson and SC DB Terrell Thomas got into it about his lack of production. Cal Head Coach Jeff Tedford acknowledged that SC double-covered Jackson all night. OK, I'll bite, isn't that what teams are supposed to do? Adjust your game to neutralize a big threat? Jack son was also ineffective in the kicking game. The SC special teams were all over him giving up very little yardage.
"They had (Brian) Cushing on him, guys on top of him, trying to jam him, guys dropping underneath," Tedford said.
The big turning point in the game was David Buehler's 49 yard FG to tie the game at 9-9 late in the 3rd qtr. Buehler, who is a bit of a platoon player on the team, had not kicked a Field Goal in his college career. The SC coaching staff was in a bind on 4th and 15. Do you punt the ball? Do you go for it? Or do you kick the FG? Obviously they chose wisely.
The sophomore was listed as a fullback-kicker-safety on the depth chart.
Now he's so much more.
The seldom-used Buehler kicked a 49-yard field goal late in the third quarter Saturday night at the Coliseum, sparking the Trojans to a 23-9 victory over California that assured them of at least an appearance in the Rose Bowl.
"That was really cool," USC Coach Pete Carroll said. "That was a lot of stuff that happened in those few moments."
The unprecedented moment was set up by an unprecedented quandary.
That was spark that SC was looking for and they made the best of it scoring a total of 17 unanswered points. Jarrett caught a 25 yard pass for a TD while getting his bell rung in the end-zone. Smith got way behind all-world DB Daymeion Hughes in what appeared to be some blown coverage. Once again it was tailback by committee but CJ Gable, who took over for the injured Chauncey Washington, stepped up and had some great runs but his best was a screen pass that he took up field for 35 yards and that run set up the Jarrett score.
C.J. Gable replaced Chauncey Washington, who was nursing a knee sprain, at tailback. While Washington was able to play sparingly, it was the freshman Gable who carried most of the load, rushing 19 times for 91 yards and catching a critical 35-yard pass.
"I was getting too excited early on and I knew I had to calm down," Gable said after the Trojans' 23-9 victory. "After a couple of carries, I was able to focus and take it from there."
Coach Pete Carroll was impressed by the way Gable held up.
So SC has now won its 5th consecutive Pac 10 title and the worst they can do is a berth in the Rose Bowl. The bigger prize is obviously the BCS Tile game on Jan.8th in Glendale, AZ but we are still a little ways away from that accomplishment. This was a great win and we should enjoy it but there is still some work to do as NC comes to town on Saturday and they are looking for some payback from last years game.
Bring on the Irish!!