USC’s identity and reputation were damaged last weekend, but primarily due to the Trojans’ own performance at Cal. The ugly, sloppy, soft, and thoroughly unconvincing 50-49 win over the Golden Bears made USC look bad. If the Trojans had gone into Berkeley and won by 28, we would be having a different conversation right now.
However, as bad as the actual game was for USC, the Trojans took at hit from other sources and for other reasons.
Utah losing 35-6 to Oregon also made USC look worse, as our Pac-12 football panel explained:
Mat Zemek: USC is the team whose identity and reputation were most affected by the Oregon-Utah outcome. Oregon is functionally competent and responsible. It did what any half-decent team should do to Bryson Barnes. USC is not functionally competent and responsible. The Trojans haven’t been competent for the past month. They’re a bad football team right now.
Zachary Neel: Was it possible to think that USC’s defense was worse? The fact that USC gave up 34 points to Bryson Barnes and the Utes is made to look even worse now that the Ducks were able to hold them without a touchdown for an entire game.
Matt Wadleigh: Each week just gets worse and worse. As if USC giving up a ton of points against Utah’s backup QB wasn’t enough, they gave up 49 (!!!!!) to Cal. Yikes, yikes, and yikes again.