21.Oct.2009 It's Official: The Beavers have a Chance
After watching the USC/Notre Dame game, I put the Beavers chances of victory at sub 1%. I just felt the game would be a sure loss and anything to the contrary a sure miracle. Over the past few days I’ve read a lot of fan feedback, both on this blog and other forums in Beaverland, yet none of them quite convinced me that we have a shot in the game. Mainly because I believe at this level of competition a great part of the game is mental, and I think the Beavs go into that stadium down in LA knowing the history (21 straight losses@USC) and with a roster loaded with USC rejects. The latter point can’t be underestimated. Lance Mitchell, Sean Canfield, Ryan McCants, et al.–all LA area guys who were overlooked by USC and had to “settle” for the Beavers. This isn’t a slight at the aforementioned players as most PAC-10 rosters are riddled with USC rejects, but I think it’s something that stays in the back of these players’ minds for a long time. Considering the Trojans are the pinnacle of west coast football, the thought that “I was not good enough to earn a USC scholarship” must be on the mind of any opponent playing at USC and one that must be overcome.
So why do I now give the Beavers a 22% chance of winning this game? Well, a little statistical analysis, first of all, but mainly because I think the Beavers have a psychological advantage in two areas, and these advantages are so strong that they trump (a) who the Trojans are and (b) who the Beavers are not.
1. A national ranking. You can make the argument that the Beavs had a chance to do this very thing versus Cincinnati and showed little mettle. Touche. But I think the benching of #28, familiarity with the opponent, a pro-style offense in USC, and general team improvement make this opportunity more palpable. I just see the mindset of the Beavers being one of desperation and ambition mixed with a quiet confidence. And the Trojans mindset right now is one of trying to psych themselves up with a “revenge” angle that lacks conviction while feeling the pressure to maintain their ranking. And lastly, while you’d never hear a Trojan admit it, after the events of the past three years there has to be a quiet, unspoken fear of the looming elephant in the room.
2. A big game by Quiz equals a legitimate Heisman run. The significance of such a (potential) run cannot be understated. It’s a cause the entire OL can get behind. It’s a cause that can make the OL give extra effort, make the extra block, and drive just a little harder off the line. Maybe the WRs and TE block a little harder, too. This is huge because the glaring mismatch on Saturday is going to be the Beaver OL versus the Trojan DL. Anything that can bridge the gap is worth noting, and personally I believe that having a potential Heisman contender in waiting does more than bridge the gap.
Do either of these two points come to fruition and have any effect on Saturday’s game? Clearly I don’t know. But I at least have good reason now to believe that the Beavers will be as jacked as possible for the occasion, have tangible motivation to put forth their best effort, and possibly even win–a feat that appeared to have lottery odds earlier this week.
On a final note, this line by Gregg Peat sums it up nicely.
“It’s an opportunity for them to get back at us, and it’s an opportunity for us to get back on the map, too,” OSU guard Gregg Peat said. “We’re just as fired up as they are.”