[Waaaay back last summer CGB counted down the top 10 best non-Big Games of the 2000s. But the season rolled around so quickly that we never found space for the finale! At long last, here it is. Previously, we have had #10 Baylor, 2002, #9 Washington, 2006, #8 Michigan St. 2002, #7 Texas A&M 2006, #6 Virginia Tech 2003, #5 Oregon 2006, #4 Tennessee 2007, #3 Oregon 2007 and #2 USC 2004]
You all knew this game would be #1, right? It was a bigger slam dunk than a Randle-to-Christopher fast break alley-oop. Even if this game was against Southeast State Polytechnic A&M it would have been the most exciting game of the decade – last ditch comebacks, thrilling offense, timely defense, and three white-knuckled overtime periods. The fact that it came against USC, eventual AP National Champions and the #3 team in the nation at the time cements the title as best non Big Game of the 2000s, and one of the greatest
At the time I was a freshmen living in Unit 2, and I remember distinctly trying to temper expectations for this game, both for myself and my dorm mates. I was afraid that a likely USC trouncing would sour them on the joys of
The student section was a mad house – cursing, obscene gestures, and thousands of jingling keys – amongst other acts of disdain towards USC, their band, and the 15,000-20,000 or so Trojan fans who completely dominated the south side of the stadium. When
Perhaps jumping on an over-confident USC team early,
It was at this point that my cynical nature again overtook me. The #3 team in the nation had awoken, and they weren’t going to mess around.
But USC and Matt Leinart had enough for one last drive for a field goal. Watching a replay of the game on Hulu, I was amused to watch Pete Carroll’s reaction to the field goal that tied the game and forced overtime. It was the look of a man with 100% certainty that his team would win the game. And perhaps, considering what USC would soon accomplish on the field, that attitude wasn’t entirely unwarranted. But it wasn’t borne out that day in September.
So overtime it was. I was a nervous wreck for the entire overtime period, having felt that
At this point, I was 100% sure. There was no way
I’m not even sure I believed after Ryan Killeen missed a 40 yard field goal after USC’s possession was stymied with a poorly timed penalty. And when
We have two reasons to thank Tyler Frederickson. Beyond hitting the game winning field goal,
Best. Chant. Ever.