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.
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.
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 Pacific-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 the Trojans (2-1, 0-1) effectively left open the top spot in the rankings, placing greater emphasis on Saturday'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 the 25-point underdog Oregon State.
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.