USC fans can’t even boo as Trojans sink to new low with home loss to Oregon State
A personal foul penalty by USC’s Michael Triggs on the opening kickoff signaled to a Coliseum crowd itching for an impressive home debut for its new coach that these were instead just the same old, undisciplined Trojans.
Actually, it was much worse.
With USC presumably looking for a big-name coach, the assumption was that Donte Williams had to perform a miracle to remove the interim label from his job description.
USC, spiraling from a coaching change and listless offense, reached more lows Saturday, losing to Oregon State 45-27. It was USC’s first loss to Oregon State in Los Angeles since 1960, ending a streak of 24 consecutive wins over the Beavers, a perennial conference doormat that hasn’t played in a bowl game since 2013.
“Oregon State, tonight, they outcoached us, they outplayed us,” interim head coach Donte Williams said. “It will all get fixed. I promise you that.”
Hearing a team with seven straight losing seasons outplayed one of the most storied programs in college football signals just how far the Trojans have fallen. From its seven years of ineptitude, Oregon State (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12 Conference) racked up six touchdowns, including five on consecutive drives that spanned the second, third and fourth quarters, and had its highest-scoring performance ever against USC.
Oregon State quarterback Chance Nolan was electric with 213 yards passing and four touchdowns while completing 15 of his 19 throws with two intercepted passes. He added 57 yards rushing to complement running back B.J. Taylor, who ran for 158 yards in 23 attempts.
The Beavers gained 322 of their 535 total yards on the ground, dragging defenders down the field in a tackling effort that defensive coordinator Todd Orlando called “heart-wrenching.”
After giving up 42 points to Stanford in their last home game, the Trojans (2-2, 1-2) have allowed 40 points or more in back-to-back games at the Coliseum for the first time since 2011.
“Things like this happen and it’s not our last game so we still got more to define us,” USC outside linebacker Drake Jackson said. “We’re going to go out and work until we can’t work no more so something like this doesn’t happen again.”
USC’s Kedon Slovis, who reprised his starting role when challenger Jaxson Dart was sidelined with knee surgery, was 31-of-49 passing for 355 yards with one touchdown and three intercepted passes, relying on desperation fourth-quarter drives to pad his passing stats.
Since unseating injured top recruit JT Daniels, Slovis’ completion percentage has fallen from 71.9% as a freshman to 67% as a sophomore and is 64.3% after four games in his junior year.
Oregon State, the best offense in the Pac-12 by yardage, was stopped in the first half only by an acrobatic interception in the end zone by Isaac Taylor-Stuart in the first quarter and its own penalties.
The Beavers were flagged nine times for 110 yards in the first half, but still led by four at halftime. With just two penalties in the third quarter, the Beavers were free to roll to 21 unanswered points to start the second half, highlighted by a 17-yard touchdown pass from Nolan to receiver Tyjon Lindsey, who flashed USC’s victory sign to the crowd after he put the Beavers up 28-17.
Lindsey then nonchalantly turned his fingers down, flipping the Trojans legacy on its head.
Compared with Oregon State’s dynamic running game that kept USC’s front seven guessing all game, USC’s air-raid offense looked like a failed gimmick. The Trojans rushed for 76 yards in 22 carries.
“When did the offense become so abysmal,” former USC quarterback Matt Leinart tweeted after the third quarter when the Trojans were trailing 35-17. Oregon State scored again on the first play of the fourth.
The program once known for dynamic stars like Leinart and Reggie Bush, who won the city with their style on the field as much as their success, was left playing in front of a smattering of silent fans, seemingly so indifferent they couldn’t muster any boos as their team left the field, unlike the chorus that signaled former coach Clay Helton was on his way out following an embarrassing loss to Stanford.
But upon closer review, there were barely any fans in cardinal and gold to voice their disappointment by the end of the game. Most remaining in the stands were wearing orange and black.
Oregon State fans had filtered toward the front rows, lining the field behind the Beaver bench as USC fans had long gone home and given up.
USC interim coach Donte Williams and players address the media following a loss to Oregon State at the Coliseum.
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