Before this season, California receiver DeSean Jackson said he would rather beat Southern California than win the Heisman Trophy. The only thing certain is that he won't win both. Scratch the Heisman. That possibility has moved north and into Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon's versatile hands. But USC still is there for Jackson on Saturday, when the Golden Bears host the Trojans. The game looms as a last chance to resurrect some hope for two teams that had national-championship ambitions go awry. Both have renewed optimism after victories last week, USC against Oregon State and Cal against Washington State. Injuries are a reason, perhaps the biggest, for USC's problems. Cal's struggles, which include three consecutive Pac-10 losses, have been hard to explain, although a badly sprained ankle suffered by quarterback Nate Longshore says a lot. Jackson's comments after a loss to UCLA and before a defeat at Arizona State might have said more. It sounded as if Jackson wasn't happy with coach Jeff Tedford's playbook. The swift receiver, a preseason Heisman contender from Long Beach, Calif., wanted Tedford to open up the attack more.
Against Washington State, Tedford said there was offensive success because the Golden Bears were able to sustain some drives. That's not exactly the swift-striking pass attack that Jackson wanted. "We get it to him whenever it fits with what's going on," Tedford said Tuesday in a conference call. Let's just say that no Heisman votes will be thrown Jackson's way.
Tedford laughed at a suggestion that the Trojans have turned into an ordinary team after losses to Stanford and Oregon. "Are you kidding me?" he said. "They're probably the best defense I've seen."
A perfect month
Pete Carroll is beginning his seventh November as USC's coach. Including Saturday's victory against Oregon State, he is 21-0 during the month. That can't be good news for Cal or ASU, which faces the Trojans at Sun Devil Stadium on Nov. 22.
"It's playoff time for us," said Carroll, who hasn't fared quite as well in December. Cross-town rival UCLA upset USC last Dec. 2. The Bruins and Trojans play this year on Dec. 1.