Sports Out West

USC eyes improbable bowl bid despite sanctions, injuries

Photo Credit: Don Ryan / AP

The USC Trojans went into Oregon State’s Reser Stadium and did something they hadn’t done in in nearly 10 years on Friday night.  

They won. 

Not only did the Trojans come away with a convincing 31-14 win, but in doing so they became bowl eligible after it looked early on as though they’d  struggle to stay competitive amid NCAA sanctions, numerous injuries and a mid-season coaching change. 

USC lost a substantial number of scholarships as a result of the scandals involving Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo, greatly hindering their ability to contend with their counterparts in the always strong Pac-12 Conference. If that weren’t enough, they suffered numerous injuries to key players such as Marqise Lee, Kevin Graf, Morgan Breslin and Anthony Brown, among others. 

Adding further insult to injury were the circumstances surrounding Lane Kiffin’s ouster. The former head coach became a pariah around Los Angeles after a shaky start that saw them lose their season opener to Washington State at home before they took an embarrassing 62-41 loss at Arizona State on Sept. 28. 

Since then, USC has played freely under interim head coach Ed Orgeron, even going as far as lifting him above their shoulders on Friday after the victory. It’s clear the players are having fun and playing with greater purpose. 

”That’s the way the game should be played,” USC linebacker Hayes Pullard said, ”just being able to go out there, execute the plays and just have fun.”

The Trojans won’t have much time to rest on their laurels, however, as they’ll face Stanford in two weeks on Nov. 16 after facing Cal on the road Nov. 9. 

Photo Credit: Don Ryan / AP 

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Michael C. Jones is the managing editor and founder of Sports Out West and a Southern California-based sports journalist. His work is also regularly featured on Yahoo! Sports and SB Nation. You can catch up with him on Twitter: @MikeJonesTweets.