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Coincidence or not, the recent release of a book entitled McKay: A Coach's Story, in which the Silver Fox reveals all about his "Bitter Rivalry" with Stanford, could not have been more providential. In hot detail, amplified by the Northern California press, McKay tells how the Palo Alto crowd threw rocks at his players and how the Stanford band deliberately interrupted USC's warmups and halftime meetings. Accusing Stanford of "cheap off-the-field tactics," McKay states that instead of deciding the game "from goal to goal line," Stanford was "putting our team in danger and encouraging a riot."
Something certainly encouraged the Trojans last week. McKay figured rightly that at the outset the fired-up Cardinals would be charging so hard they would be a setup for USC's moribund passing game. On the first play Haden, the reluctant thrower, tossed a screen pass that was good for 16 yards. He followed with three more equally startling passes in the next seven plays. Then, just when the befuddled Stanford defense began to hang back, Davis bolted off tackle for 20 yards and five plays later plunged in for the first score.
The drive, a beautifully varied assault that covered 75 yards in 14 plays, left the Cardinals in a state of shock from which they never seemed to recover. Stanford's quarterback, Mike Cordova, quickly took to the air but, hounded all afternoon by a snarly pack of USC defenders led by Tackle Art Riley, his passing was at best haphazard (nine completions in 23 attempts). After his opening burst, Haden's arm proved only slightly more proficient (five for 14), but while the USC aerialist was continually overthrowing, Cordova was forever rifling the ball into the dirt, a penchant that has earned him the nickname "Cor-divot."
The first of three interceptions picked off by USC led to a field goal early in the second quarter. Then, in a neat display of extended razzle-dazzle, the Trojans sent Flanker Shelton Diggs on a reverse that netted 14 yards and followed up on the next play with Tailback Davis rolling out and hitting McKay with a nine-yard toss in the end zone.
Whatever hopes Stanford had of recovering from its 17-3 deficit at halftime were quickly dashed as Southern Cal capped a long drive with a 21-yard scoring jaunt up the middle by Davis.
After the scrubs had their day, the final score was 34-10. USC's dominance was so total that whatever hard feelings there might have been in Palo Alto were overcome by grudging admiration. Said Stanford Coach Jack Christiansen, "SC put together one of the finest combinations of defense and offense Eve ever seen a team play. I don't know what motivated them. Maybe it was all that reverse psychology."
McKay, all sweetness and light after running his undefeated string of conference games to 23, offered no clues. Indeed, having served its purpose, the grimly threatened "long walk" turned out to be a friendly romp between players and fans. Or, in the words of Anthony Davis: "It was a parade of roses."