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Beavers still feeling the upset buz

CORVALLIS &

Last seen engulfed in an orange sea of celebrating fans, the Oregon State Beavers are reveling in a win for the ages.

The Beavers toppled mighty USC Saturday, ending the third-ranked Trojans' 38-game regular-season win streak and throwing more chaos into the national championship race.

The win, only Oregon State's third against USC since 1960, put a punctuation mark on a three-game conference win streak that has changed the direction of its season.

"That is a great win, that is a big-time win right there," said Oregon State coach Mike Riley, who is 33-33 in six years.

USC was the highest-ranked team taken down by the Beavers since 1967 when Oregon State beat the then-No. — Trojans 3-0.

That Beaver team, which also beat Purdue and tied UCLA when each was ranked second in the country, became known as the Giant Killers.

As it turned out they provided kind of a template for current Beaver team, which latched on to the biblical story of David and Goliath for motivation. Wide receiver Sammie Stroughter even passed out stones to each of his teammates the night before the game.

And so, USC, winner of a record 27-straight Pacific-10 Conference games and 18-straight road games, fell to a conference opponent for the first time since Sept. 27, 2003, in overtime against California.

"It was just amazing," said Oregon State quarterback Matt Moore, who threw for 262 yards. "I got so excited my eyes started tearing up. It was just an awesome feeling. Not everyone can say they took down the No. — team in the nation, especially USC."

Oregon State (5-3, 3-2 Pac-10) had the Trojans on the ropes most of the game, forcing four turnovers and leading 33-10 in the third quarter.

Still, USC quarterback John David Booty led a comeback that had his team on the brink of pulling out another close win.

Booty, who finished with 406 yards passing, found Steve Smith in the end zone for a 2-yard score to make it 33-31.

With 7 seconds remaining, the game came down to the two-point conversion, with Oregon State's Jeff Van Orsow batting down Booty's pass to seal the win.

"That's what we play the game for," said Oregon State safety Sabby Piscitelli. "(Seven) seconds left, a team like SC coming into your house, they have to score and you have to stop them. That's when big players step up and make big plays."

Piscitelli said coaches had prepared the Beavers for the situation, mindful that several of the Trojans' wins this year had come down to the wire.

"They said all week, don't be surprised if it comes down to a minute left, they've got the ball and we're up," he said.

USC's loss, dropping them to 6-1, 4-1, reverberated throughout college football, reigniting the national championship aspirations of a host of one-loss teams.

But for the Beavers, who had stumbled out to a 2-3 start, this win was about them. Oregon State was without star tailback Yvenson Bernard, the conference's second-leading rusher, who was on crutches much of the week with a badly sprained ankle. Into his place came backup Clinton Polk, a junior college transfer with only 29 carries all series.

Polk admitted being so nervous that he threw up after the first series, then settled in and ran for 100 yards on 22 carries.

"I'm really proud of Clinton," Riley said. "It was a big game for him. And it was big what he did for this team."

Oregon State fans, some of whom had booed Moore and Riley during the Beavers' early-season struggles, filled the field as soon as USC two-point try was knocked away. With 4 seconds still remaining, they had to be cleared off before play could resume. As the game ended, the pandemonium re-ensued.

Oregon State, presumed to be sinking fast after early season losses to Boise State, California and Washington State, has righted the ship with wins over Washington, Arizona, and now, USC.

"It was a great day for us," Stroughter said.

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