Photo courtesy of USC athletics
From 2002 to 2008, USC lost just seven Pac-10 games. The only team to beat the Trojans twice?
The first of those two victories came on this day 15 years ago. USC made a furious rally, but in the end, a failed 2-point conversion was the difference as the Beavers pulled off the 33-31 stunner.
Setting the Stage
It had been more than three years since USC had lost a regular season game as it arrived in Corvallis on Oct. 28, 2006. The Trojans had claimed national championships in 2003 and 2004 before falling to Texas for the title in 2005. USC came in riding a 27-game winning streak against Pac-10 competition, with a record of 6-0.
Oregon State had won back-to-back road games to get to 4-3 after a 2-3 start. The Beavers were looking for their first win over a ranked team in more than three years.
Comeback Falls Short
The contest was tied 7-7 early, but Oregon State seized control by scoring 26 of the game’s next 29 points. Kicker Alexis Serna made four field goals during that stretch. After rushing for the game’s first touchdown, Oregon State quarterback Matt Moore found Joe Newton for a score before Sammie Stroughter returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown.
USC however, would not go quietly.
The Trojans pulled to within eight after quarterback John David Booty threw touchdown passes to Fred Davis late in the third quarter and Steve Smith early in the fourth. Chauncey Washington’s 2-point conversion run with more than 12 minutes to go made it 33-25.
A missed field goal by Oregon State and an exchange of punts gave USC one last chance from its own 20-yard-line with more than two minutes to play. On what would be an 80-play march, Booty completed five passes on the drive. That included a fourth-down conversion throw and a touchdown pass — both to Smith.
With just seven seconds remaining, USC still needed to convert the 2-point try to extend the game. On the game’s decisive play however, Booty’s pass was knocked down by Jeff Van Orsow and the Beavers survived.
USC would bounce back and ascend to No. 2 in the country, but was defeated by UCLA in the regular season finale. The Trojans would beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl to finish fourth in the final polls.
Oregon State won eight of its final nine games to finish 10-4 and ranked in the final polls. The Beavers capped the year with a thrilling 39-38 victory over Missouri in the Sun Bowl. Perhaps the most thrilling win however, came against USC.
Not only did the victory snap USC’s 27-game Pac-10 winning streak. It also ended streaks of 38 regular-season wins for USC, 18 straight road wins, 18 straight wins in October and 13 straight Pac-10 road wins.
It came on this day 15 years ago.