Bill Oram: Oregon State Beavers football history can be told through victories against USC ‘luxury shorts’

It’s not a rivalry, at least not in the traditional sense. It doesn’t have a catchy name and hasn’t been particularly competitive for most of the past 100 years.

But games against USC have always meant something extra in Oregon. Indeed, Beavers football history can be told through victories – though they are rare. Especially the ones in Corvallis.

The Giant Assassins of 1967. The Revolution of 2000 that declared beaver competition. Novice Jackie Rodgers set out in 2008 to spoil the Trojans’ #1 attempt at the National Championship.

The Beavers host USC Saturday amid renovation work at Reser Stadium. Beavers are trying to survive undefeated. Trojans want to pay for the playoff.

Is this the next great Oregon State-USC game? It could definitely be the last.

That’s the hanging motion collateral damage for USC and UCLA in the Big Ten.

Do you think the Trojans will be looking to schedule games without conferences in Corvallis anytime soon? Oregon star Ken Simonton joined me on the Sports By Northwest podcast this week. The leading Beavers racer, who ran for 234 yards in his career against the Trojans in 2000, had a message for the decision makers behind USC’s exit.

“I hope they all have hemorrhoids,” he said.

ouch.

He is not alone in feeling, even if the photos are unique to him. Former Beavers quarterback Steve Price called the Los Angeles Schools’ departure “devastating.”

“We loved playing SC because it was an opportunity to face the big ones,” he said.

I doubt USC President Carol Wohlt gave a second thought to the likes of Oregon when she signed USC’s exit from Pac-12, shattering a hundred years of tradition. But the split between Los Angeles city lights and Willamette Valley farmland exemplifies what made the Pac-8, 10 and 12 so special.

When the State of Oregon and the University of Southern California came together, Bryce said, “It was a cultural thing. It was a lifestyle competition.”

And once every few years or decades, Oregon rises up and wins that battle. They did so last year in Los Angeles, before the Trojans moved away from Clay Hilton, and Lincoln Riley brought in a flurry of transfers for stars like Caleb Williams and Jordan Addison, the nation’s top receiver last year in Pittsburgh.

Jess Lewis grew up on a farm in Turner. He did what is probably the most famous play in Oregon history when he chased OJ Simpson in the mud to preserve the 1967 Oregon win. He was chopping wood outside his Corvallis home when he picked up the phone on Wednesday.

His opinion of the Trojans over the years?

“Luxury pants,” he said, “I’m calling them.” “We are just old farmers and cowboys.”

Beavers may not have as many farmers on the list as they did in 1967, but that mindset persists.

“It was always…more of a David and Goliath story,” Simonton said. “SC has always been the standard bearer when you talk about Pac-10 and Pac-12 football.”

As the college football world shrunk and Beavers recruiting expanded, motivation was found elsewhere.

Take, for example, Alexis Serna, the player who broke four field goals to lift the Beavers to a 33-31 victory over USC No. 3 in 2006.

“A lot of us, we have roots in Southern California,” Serna said. “And so you kind of have that chip on your shoulder, like, ‘Man, I think I can compete at that level. I think they overlooked me. They had a chance to get me and they didn’t.”

The Trojans have won 11 national championships and have seven Heisman Awards. This week, they were ranked number seven by the Associated Press.

“Winning those matches was important because of who they are,” Serna said.

Oregon State quarterback Nolan threw four touchdown passes in Oregon State’s 45-27 win over USC last season. He will try to lift the Beavers to another win when the Trojans come to Reser Stadium this week. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)AP

Do beavers have another malaise in them? The Beavers have won four of Corvallis’ last seven games. The match will start at 6:30 pm

I don’t know that beavers have the firepower to keep up with the Trojans, but history tells us that strange things happen when USC comes to Corvallis.

In 1967, after Oregon beat Purdue and tied UCLA for second when they faced the Beavers, Coach DeAndros declared he was tired of messing with his second-place opponents.

“Bring number 1,” Andrews said.

After more than 50 years, it’s time to bring the last one.

– Bill Onam | boram@oregonian.com | Twitter: Tweet embed


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