USC enters OSU's house of horror


LOS ANGELES -- The only thing that could have been more ominous for the USC Trojans facing a Friday night in forbidding Reser Stadium against the Oregon State Beavers would have been to have the game moved up one day to coincide with Halloween.

You can have your House on Haunted Hill, The Legend of Hell House and The Amityville Horror, but legendary USC head coaches John McKay and Pete Carroll found out firsthand about the gridiron horror house that resides in Corvallis, Ore.

The Trojans have not won at Reser Stadium since 2004 and the Men of Troy’s last five losses to the Beavers have come in Corvallis.

Where else can you play in an intimate and intimidating stadium that is a cauldron of 45,000 delirious, orange and black clad Beavers fans, who are egged on by the menacing sounds of a power buzz saw reminiscent of the movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

To add a little Halloween flavor on Friday evening, coach Mike Riley’s Beavers will unveil new orange uniforms, and fans are being encouraged to wear their Halloween colors, as well, for the game (ESPN2, 9 p.m. ET).

There are but a handful of Trojans remaining from the last visit to Reser Stadium, but senior defensive end Devon Kennard remembers his sophomore experience when he was in the middle of the 2010 chaos.

“It’s definitely a different kind of place, so when guys ask me about it that’s what I say,” said Kennard, whose last visit resulted in a 31-21 loss.

Kennard tries to downplay the Trojans’ upcoming experience, but he knows that Reser Stadium is not your everyday Pac-12 venue.

“It’s just the environment and their fans are rowdy,” Kennard said. “It’s just not your typical stadium or place. It’s how everything shapes up.”

And it shapes up with that constant chainsaw buzz to incite the fans. Leaving nothing to chance, Trojans interim head coach Ed Orgeron has played the chainsaw sound loud and clear from speakers during this week’s practices.

“It gets us ready, so when we hear it in the stadium it’s not the first time we hear it,” Kennard said. “Because that place can get pretty crazy and pretty loud.”

Simply put, the Trojans playing at Reser Stadium -- or at Parker Stadium, as it was once called under the leadership of “The Great Pumpkin,” Dee Andros -- has been nearly lethal not only to their Rose Bowl hopes but national championship aspirations, as well.

Want some ghoulish evidence?

When John McKay brought his undefeated and future 1967 national champions into Parker Stadium to face the Beavers, he did it with future Heisman winning tailback O.J. Simpson and All-Americans Adrian Young and Tim Rossovich on defense.

On the other hand, the Beavers 1967 club had the nickname of “The Giant Killers” with upset victories over nationally ranked powerhouses like Purdue and Arizona State.

It figured that the game would be a fight, but in the upset ingredients of rain and mud, the Beavers beat the No. 1 Trojans, 3-0, thanks to a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter by placekicker Mike Haggard.

Pete Carroll, despite his glorious record against most foes, found his future 2004 national champions in a Reser Stadium survival struggle with the scoreboard and the dense Corvallis fog until a great one-handed, touchdown catch by tight end Dominique Byrd spearhead a 28-20 Trojans comeback after being down 13-0 in the second quarter.

Carroll learned just how tough Reser Stadium could be illustrated by his losing 1-2 record. There is just something about the place that brings out the best in the Beavers when the Trojans come to town.

So now it’s the 2013 Trojans’ turn to enter into the Corvallis episode of The Twilight Zone, so one could only imagine how Rod Serling would welcome them:

“There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination.

“It is an area which we call ... The Reser Stadium Zone.”