USC undone by 'The Quizz'

CORVALLIS — It seemed a near certainty that loaded Southern California was headed for a national championship bid. Then the top-ranked Trojans were introduced to diminutive Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers.

Rodgers, a 5-foot-7 freshman, played David to Goliath USC, leading the unheralded Beavers to a 27-21 upset Thursday night that suddenly redrew the landscape of college football this season.

The result reverberated around the country on Friday — ESPN dubbed Reser Stadium "Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood" — and Oregon State coach Mike Riley was a hot commodity on a variety of sports shows throughout the day.

Riley appeared on the Dan Patrick show, ESPN's SportsCenter, the NFL Network, Sporting News and ESPN radio and the ESPN telecast of the Connecticut-Louisville game.

"It's been crazy," OSU sports information director Steve Fenk told Paul Buker of the Oregonian.

Many of the questions were simply about how it possibly happened.

Oregonian columnist John Canzano surmised some writers might have missed their weeknight deadline.

"It takes time to erase things like 'dghkajdhdwz,'" he wrote. "You know, that's what you get when your jaw smacks the center of your laptop keyboard when it becomes apparent that a program that looked adrift and confused three weeks ago had just slain a team that most of the voters in the polls regarded as the country's best."

Other questions for Riley a day later were about the game-ending celebration and, of course, Rodgers.

Rodgers ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns and his older brother James caught a pair of TD passes from Lyle Moevao, as the Beavers (2-2, 1-1 Pac-10 Conference) showed no fear in taking down a top-ranked team for first time in 41 years.

Jacquizz Rodgers, known as 'Quizz, was blissfully unaware of the significance of his play. His rushing yards were the most by a Trojan opponent since Vince Young ran for 200 for Texas in the BCS national championship game in 2006.

"It really hasn't hit me yet," he said after the game. "But later on tomorrow I'll probably be really excited that we won."

By losing, the Trojans (2-1, 0-1) effectively left open the top spot in the rankings, placing greater emphasis on today's game between No. 2 Oklahoma (3-0) and No. 24 TCU (4-0), and the SEC showdown between No. 3 Georgia (4-0) and No. 8 Alabama (4-0).

But at least on Thursday night, the national spotlight fell on 25-point underdog Oregon State.

Afterward, the field at Reser Stadium was stormed by orange-clad Beavers fans. Moevao jumped into the arms of coach Mike Riley. Safety Greg Laybourn, who had a key interception late in the game, was hoisted by fans.

Trojans quarterback Mark Sanchez stormed off the field in anger.

"It doesn't taste very good right now," he said.

The Beavers also upset USC at Reser Stadium in 2006, when the Trojans were ranked third. Southern California has lost three of its last four games in Corvallis.

In 1967, Oregon State defeated the top-ranked and O.J. Simpson-led Trojans 3-0 on a muddy field soaked by Oregon's infamous fall rain.

USC had shown little vulnerability in victories at Virginia and then at home against then-No. 5 Ohio State. But uncharacteristic mistakes, notably tailback Joe McKnight's fumble in the second quarter and Sanchez's late interception, cost the Trojans against the Beavers.

Jacquizz Rodgers, who had been unfazed by the Trojans' fearsome defense, ran in the final touchdown to make it 27-14.

Sanchez hit Patrick Turner with a 14-yard scoring pass with 1:19 left, but with no timeouts the clock ran out on the Trojans.

Moevao completed 18 of 26 passes for 167 yards and two TDs for Oregon State.

Sanchez completed 18 of 29 passes for 227 yards and three scores, with the one crucial interception. McKnight rushed for just 10 yards against the Beavers after gaining 105 yards in the Trojans' 35-3 victory over the Buckeyes.

The Beavers opened this season with two losses, at Stanford and Penn State, before returning home for a victory over Hawaii.

Despite their struggles, the Beavers had seen steady growth on offense and the emergence of Jacquizz Rodgers, who went into the game against the Trojans as the nation's leading freshman rusher with 87.7 yards per game.

The Trojans had no answer for him.

"For whatever reason, we just couldn't tackle him. We'd hit him in the backfield and he'd keep bouncing," USC coach Pete Carroll said. "Him hiding behind the line of scrimmage was very effective. We had troubles with it all day."

The Beavers play at No. 17 Utah next Thursday, with the opportunity to show they aren't a fluke. USC hosts Oregon on Oct. 4.

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