Road games at Ohio State, Washington, California, Notre Dame, Oregon, Arizona State and for some reason the media thinks the world is going to crash down upon the Trojans. Articles like “Tough road slate could derail USC in ’09” and “Don’t be surprised if … USC’s run of seven consecutive Pac-10 titles ends in 2009”, cast a shadow of gloom upon the 2009 season. And why? New quarterback in Aaron Corp, bunch of defensive leaders gone to the NFL, a situation that USC has never faced before under Carroll. The last time Pete Carroll has faced such an extraordinary predicament was way back when…in 2008.
The Trojans had lost 10 players to the NFL after 2007 including Sedrick Ellis, Sam Baker, and Lawrence Jackson…they lost their top receiver (TE) in Fred Davis and their top running back in Chauncey Washington. That’s in addition to losing Terrell Thomas and some guy named John David Booty. Now granted the road schedule wasn’t as tough (Virginia, Oregon State, Washington State, Arizona, Stanford and UCLA), still Mark Sanchez went 5-1 in road games with his single loss coming from a 9-4 Oregon State Team with one shifty short dude. The outcome? USC won the conference and the BCS Rose Bowl against Penn State.
Before that we have to go all the way back to 2006 when John David Booty took the reins. USC had lost White, Bush and Leinart in the draft. As a new QB booty had to face Arkansas, Arizona, Washington State, Oregon State Stanford and UCLA on the road. As you probably remember, Booty went 4-2 in road games with the nail-biting losses coming at OSU and UCLA in the final seconds of the game. Overall, USC shared the conference championship with Cal, beating Michigan in the Rose Bowl 32-18.
And how did Leinart fare in first road schedule as a new starter? Way back when in 2003, Leinart faced #3 Auburn, Cal, ASU, Notre Dame, Washington and Arizona. The outcome: 5-1, with USC’s only loss coming 31-34 to Cal in triple overtime. The 2003 season ended with the famous split national championship, with the AP awarding it to the Trojans and the BCS awarding it to LSU.
In fact, the last time a new USC quarterback had a losing road record was 1999, when Carson Palmer went 2-4 under former coach Paul Hackett.
So, while each new Trojan quarterback under Carroll had at least one loss… the season ended in glory. History is not definitive, but the track record is pretty damn good. I wouldn’t be too quick to count the Trojan’s out of the conference championship…or any other championship for that matter.