It might be USC’s worst-loss ever, something USC coach Pete Carroll probably never expected next to his name. How embarrassing was this loss? USC was a 39- to 41-point favorite all week, which means it’s officially the biggest upset by point spread in history, eclipsing Syracuse’s victory over Louisville last month when the Orangemen were 37.5-point underdogs. That means this debacle could arguably one of college football’s biggest upsets. “It just shows you it doesn’t matter,” USC coach Pete Carroll said. “That’ s sports.” Uh, not quite. Sports is unpredictable. This was a joke. Stanford (2-3, 1-3) did not just upset USC, it did it with a backup quarterback. And it snapped USC’s 35-game winning streak at the Coliseum. The last time USC lost was in 2001, also to Stanford. That might also be the last time the home crowd booed as much as it did Saturday. “Nobody comes in here and wins but us,” Stanford wide receiver Evan Moore said, in between chest bumps and dances on the field after the game. “A loss is a loss whether it’s at the Coliseum or on the moon,” USC defensive end Lawrence Jackson said. Jackson was right. But some serious questions must be asked in the wake of this loss. USC quarterback John David Booty threw four interceptions and the Trojans inexplicably insisted on passing late in the game. His third interception came with just 2:50 left in the game, with the Trojans nursing a 23-17 lead and he attempted to throw all three times after USC got a first down at its own 46-yard line. “We thought about running, but we hit some things with the passing game, like the long touchdown,” Carroll said, referring to a 47-yard touchdown pass to Ronald Johnson in the fourth quarter. But USC needed to run out the clock at the end. Then again, that illustrated another, a stubborn refusal to go with tailback Chauncey Washington, who averaged 3.3 yards a carry and got 23 carries for 75 yards. Freshman tailback Joe McKnight, who each week is supposed to play more, got two carries and disappeared. Even Hershel Dennis averaged 4.9 yards in just seven carries. Booty also threw with a cracked fingertip on his right middle finger, which he injured in the second quarter and he is questionable for next week’s game with Arizona. “I don’t know if I’ll play,” he said. Booty and rest of the Trojans were booed off the field at halftime and the end of the game. “That’s football,” Booty said. “Everybody here’s expectations are so high. Believe me on the inside I was booing too. “There were some balls that were just bad and other times there was pressure and then we were forcing things at the end.” It also did not help that wide receiver Patrick Turner dropped three passes. But let’s face it, Carroll’s also a defensive guru and the Trojans’ pass coverage once again disappeared when needed most. How does a team hope to win a national title when it allows Stanford to convert a fourth-and-20 pass play to set up the winning touchdown? The Cardinal did just that as reserve quarterback Tavita Pritchard calmly completed a pass to Richard Sherman at the USC 9. “Coach called a play but I couldn’t hear it because it was so loud,” Pritchard said. “Don’t tell him I said this, but I called my own play. I think it was similar if I heard him right. I saw the coverage I wanted and Sherm made a great play.” Pritchard then capped it off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Mark Bradford, also on fourth down. “In my mind I really don’t accept it,” Carroll said. “I don’t know where to put it. Like the Texas loss and all the others, it will be on my shoulders. “To give up like this is such a shame. We made a ton of mistakes. Now we start over. We ain’t losing next week. We don’t ever have the mindset we’re losing.” But start over with what? Minus Stafon Johnson, who is injured, USC has no breakaway threat, or at least will not let McKnight become one. And Booty’s gotten worse the past two weeks. “I’m frustrated,” he said. All of the Trojans experienced their first loss at home, but that’s not as embarrassing as losing to Stanford without its quarterback. “I think it’s embarrassing to lose any game, especially at home, especially being USC,” safety Taylor Mays said. Said offensive guard Drew Radovich: “We’ve been winning here for so long it’s just a big shellshock to everybody.” Maybe the first quarter was a tipoff that things were not well. Booty had a tipped pass, Turner dropped two passes and punt returner Desmond Reed getting tackled in the open field by Stanford’s punter. “It was not about Stanford. It was about us,” Jackson said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! By Scott Wolf STAFF WRITER Winning masks a lot of things, including stubborn coaching decisions, but losses expose everything and no team this season got unmasked more than USC did on Saturday night. The No. 2-ranked Trojans became an answer to a trivia question and demonstrated the Reggie Bush-Matt Leinart era might officially be dead in the process, with an embarrassing 24-23 loss to Stanford before 85,125 at the Coliseum.
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