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November 11, 2008

Players remember loss to Stanford

Tuesday during interviews with the media, Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh downplayed the importance of last year's upset win over USC at the Coliseum in regards to this Saturday's game.

Pete Carroll said he didn't know if the result of last year's game benefited his team or Stanford.

Both coaches made it clear that their focus was going to be on this coming Saturday - not on the Saturday in early October when the Cardinal sent shockwaves through the collegiate football world, upsetting USC 24-23.

While the coaches won't be preaching a repeat effort on the Stanford sidelines or revenge on the Trojan benches, the players know exactly what's at stake.

"It was awful," senior defensive end Kyle Moore said. "I mean, our own fans were booing us. I can't forget that."

So, it turns out revenge, at least on some level, will be on the Trojans' minds when USC takes the field this Saturday.

Unlike the Trojans' trip to Corvallis, Ore. earlier this season, this time, the revenge is much more immediate.

Tons of players on both sides of the ball were key components of USC's game plan against Stanford. They were the guys making, or in some cases, not making the plays.

In all likelihood, Carroll will not spend tons of time addressing the loss with his players, using clips from the upset to light the Trojans' fire.

It's not Carroll's style.

That doesn't mean that he won't have it in his mind this week as the Trojans' prepare.

Carroll admitted Monday to leaving ex-Trojan quarterback John David Booty in against Stanford for too long, saying the mistake and the loss have gnawed at him some.

Still, the feeling is the Trojans will stick to their mantra. Each game is the same - a championship opportunity.

And, that's what the coaches should do in this situation. They don't need to remind the players.

For veterans like Moore, the pain and humiliation from the Stanford loss has simmered for over a year.

It's not like it's something they've thought about when they took the field against Virginia or Washington or Arizona. But now that the chance for some form of payback is at the doorstep, all those feelings are coming back.

The disappointment, the shock and the horror of it all will be in the Trojans' minds whether the coaches address it or not.

But, no matter what, USC can't do to Stanford what Stanford did to it.

Still, a win at Stanford would force the Cardinal to win at Cal in order to be bowl eligible.

Harbaugh said last year's game will be used in the film room, strictly in terms of strategy.

"We'll look at last year's game in terms of preparation. The motivation, I think, both teams will have fire in their eyes," he said. "I'd expect nothing else. It's just another football game."

But to the Trojans who were on the field or on the sidelines that October night, it won't be another football game. It'll be a second chance.

"We want revenge," Moore said.


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