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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Cats call it a moral victory

    Cats call it a moral victory

    LOS ANGELES – There is a definite aura about the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. All the national championship banners exude a sense of arrogance among the city and the home team.

    Despite the intimidating 84,671 fans that booed every time their team didn’t convert on a third-down conversion, the Arizona football team seemed relatively unfazed.

    That was until the Olympic torch was lit to start the fourth quarter on the east side of the stadium, symbolically lighting a fire up from under the Trojans.

    For three quarters of the game, the Wildcats (2-5, 1-3 Pacific 10 Conference) outplayed the Trojans (5-1, 3-1), who despite the win, saw their BCS ranking drop from No. 10 to No. 14 overall, good for fourth-best in the Pac-10.

    So it wasn’t a typical performance for USC. In fact, it was ugly.

    “”Our expectations are much higher,”” said USC head coach Pete Carroll. “”At halftime we were frustrated that we were tied at 10 and we were trying to put it back together, but I don’t worry about other people’s expectations.””

    For Carroll, a coach who has led his team to a 61-5 record in the last 66 games with the five losses coming by a combined 13 points, the expectations should be higher, especially at a school where fans demand excellence.

    But for UA head coach Mike Stoops’ squad, the moral victory gave some credibility to the Wildcats a week after suffering a rather demoralizing loss in Corvallis.

    “”We play them every year,”” Stoops said. “”I think that’s less intimidating for our kids. This is the Pac-10. You’ve got to be ready to be in this league or you’re going to get run over.””

    The obvious comparison between the two teams is that the Trojans know how to win and the Wildcats don’t. It’s been the norm both ways.

    Fatigue set in for Arizona late. It blew opportunities and USC took advantage of easy breaks. That’s what good teams do, and the great teams like USC are able to do
    it consistently.

    “”That’s what ‘SC does,”” linebacker Spencer Larsen said. “”They compete and they challenge you all the time. They’re very used to winning. When you’re used to winning you find ways to get it down there at the end.””

    Arizona is now 0-4 on the road, and 0-5 against bowl teams of last season.

    “”It’s like an avalanche there towards the end,”” Larsen said. “”For the majority of the game, I think it was vice versa. The avalanche was happening on them and they were under it. Somehow they got out and got it turned.””

    A perfect example of the Wildcats not being able to capitalize on a golden opportunity came at the end of the first half. Arizona safety Corey Hall picked off a Mark Sanchez pass and ran it back 17 yards, but had the ball stripped by USC receiver Patrick Turner, and the fumble was recovered by the Trojans.

    If Hall held on to the ball, the Wildcats would have been in field goal territory and possibly could have even scored a touchdown in the final seconds of the half.

    “”It was ugly, it was bloody and it was a mess out there for a while, especially at the end of the first half,”” Sanchez said.

    Sanchez, who was making his first collegiate start for the injured John Booty, struggled mightily but still got the job done for USC.

    “”You get tired of losing. That’s the bottom line,”” said Willie Tuitama. “”They know how to win, and that’s something that we need to do. We need to learn how to win. We definitely have the talent, we have the players.””

    Larsen added, “”I know what everyone says about the moral victories and stuff like that, but you’ve got to have those. When you don’t have anything else, you’ve got to have those.””

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