Anyone who thought the game against Oregon was scary, before we came back from a small halftime deficit to blow it open in the second half, got a real scare this past weekend from Arizona State.

We all knew heading into Saturday that the Sun Devils would be a bit more of a challenge than Oregon. But, true to form, most of the people I talked to were convinced that Arizona State would be roasting in its own hell by the time the 100-degree weather began to subside in the evening.

The fact the Trojans were trailing by 18 points at halftime was discomforting, to put it mildly. Nevertheless, most everyone watching, including yours truly, took real solace in the fact that our football team seems to be a superior second-half team this year.

We just didn't realize how true that actually was.

The third quarter started, and White and Reggie Bush -- aka "Thunder and Lightning" -- quickly cut into the deficit. Lately, it seems our Trojans' favorite hobby is to make something out of nothing. Their plays are almost like theatrical statements -- for example, LenDale's quite spectacular dive into the end zone this past weekend, which reminded everybody of Reggie's touchdown somersault against Hawaii in the opener. It was deemed so unnecessarily showy that he was flagged for "excessive celebration." Suddenly, scoring has become a statement of style.

Though we won, setting a school and conference record for consecutive victories (26, if you're counting), the final score of 38-28 was definitely on the uncomfortable side.

Saturday's game allowed us a small, and not necessarily pleasant, view into an alternate universe, one in which USC might not have a perfect record, or, at the very least, one in which every game will be a small headache for us devoted fans. It was when defeat seemed possible that Trojans fans were able to see what rooting for USC actually means.

Like I said: a no-win situation. A defeat is a disaster, and a win isn't such a big deal. Even close wins are somewhat of a disappointment, and heaven forbid we lose to a team like Fresno State. It would make the Bulldogs' century to knock off the Trojans.

Let's all hope that doesn't happen. We've all been told our entire lives that no individual is perfect. But maybe a team of individuals can be.

Erica Lucero is a 19-year-old USC student from Upland, Calif., working on an English major and an American studies minor. Her activities on campus include serving as an officer of her sorority, representing the Trojan Alumni Association as a Pepster and acting as a peer mediator.

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