The field goal attempt missed the uprights and the final bell sounded: USC 38, Oregon 35. That game in November last year was one for the ages. USC snapped the nation's longest home-winning streak by being the first visiting team in 22 tries to leave Autzen Stadium with a victory. That game quashed any chance of a rematch with LSU in the national championship game that Oregon players had been chirping about following a victory over #4 Stanford a week earlier. That game single-handedly won USC the offseason national championship, who started this season with a #1 ranking and the Heisman trophy front-runner.
Fast forward a year and things are different. This is still the marquee matchup of the Pac-12 season but USC brings two losses to middling opposition into it. Oregon State and Stanford fans can crow about being ranked ahead of USC—the Cardinal beat USC 21-14 earlier this season—but they aren't fooling anyone. Oregon will dispatch those two silly teams later this month. Tonight's game is a matchup between the two most talented teams in the conference. The best receiving corps against the best secondary. The former power that the national sports press was ready to crown again in the offseason and the team that has the won the past three conference championships.
Did I make it sound like a tough matchup between two good teams that will be hard-fought to the final whistle? Good then that means I'm doing my job. I don't think it will be close.
Oregon is favored by 8.5 points (Vegas had USC favored by 6 to start the season). Oregon is statistically better than USC in scoring, total offense, total defense, and scoring defense. Even more tellingly, Oregon's defense ranks 9th in the country in 3rd down defense, allowing opponents to convert on only 28.35% of their 3rd down attempts. USC's offense ranks 110th in the country on 3rd down conversions. The Trojans also lead the country by a wide margin in penalty yardage, which USC coach Lane Kiffin [More like Lame Kitten, amirite? - Ed.] has attributed to his team's "pride."
And then there is the revenge factor. Oregon has won the past three conference titles—playing in only a handful of even somewhat close games along the way—and yet it was dethroned by the sports press after one fluke of game. Tonight will be the nail in the coffin to the adorable preseason storyline of USC's return to dominance.
USC QB Matt Barkley came back because he had "unfinished business." That will remain unfinished. Oregon coach Chip Kelly also cited "unfinished business" when he declined a purported $6 million-a-year offer to become the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the offseason. Tonight is just the another step in finishing that business. The Ducks' players are more than excited for tonight's game.
De'Anthony Thomas jogs out to loosen up. Can't stand still, bouncing around all over the place. Dude is amped up.
Nice pass from Mariota to a wide-open De'Anthony Thomas in the back of the endzone. That was a 75-yard drive in one minute and five seconds. Absolutely surgical, crisp, and precise play by the Oregon offense. This is a team on a business trip. Major props to Josh Huff for that catch along the sidelines. Bobbled it but got possession less than half an inch from the out of bounds line.
And we have USC's first penalty of the game!
USC's marching band continues to play "Conquest" as the referees wave off that dropped touchdown. Lane Kiffin wastes a challenge on the review. #15 didn't maintain possession through the completion of the play. It is not overturned. Fans whine because they don't understand football.
Excellent one-handed grab by Marqise Lee to convert that 3rd and 3.
8:04 Oregon 7, USC 3
Heidari converts the field goal for USC following a 13-play drive aided by some favorable spots, missed tackles, and wonderful quasi-catch on the third down leading up to that field goal attempt. I'm not one to complain about officiating—especially when it helps our adorable little opponents feel good about themselves—but I'd love to see a replay of that last catch.
4:53 Oregon 14, USC 3
BREAKING: Josh Huff is really good. Huff scores on WR screen after another surgical drive by the Oregon defense.
Amazing pass and catch to #15 there by USC to convert the 3rd & 11.
Ekpre-Olomu picks off the preseason Heisman Trophy-winner in the end zone to stop the USC offense. Trojans' players whine about potential pass interference because, you know, cheating is the only way to stop the Greatest Offense in USC History (in the preseason). Ifo actually only got the interception because the USC receiver gave up on the route trying to get a call.
FIRST QUARTER: Oregon 14, USC 3
This game has gone as expected. Oregon's offense is doing whatever it wants. USC's offense is driving and stalling.
14:48 Oregon 21, USC 3
After a near interception from Mariota, Kenjon Barner rumbles 25+ yards into the end zone on 3rd and 5. Oregon's offense is running rough shod over the haughty, highly touted USC defenders.
14:36 Oregon 21, USC 10
Marqise Lee breaks free for a long touchdown. That dude is an incredible athlete.
A personal foul on Michael Clay?!?!? I just lost my faith in humanity.
Kenjon Barner rumbles into the endzone on 2nd & goal following yet another fast, well-executed drive from the Oregon offense. Four possessions resulting in four touchdowns. This has been an excellent display of football by the offense. Extra point was blocked following an illegal formation penalty on the Oregon kicking team.
5:59 Oregon 27, USC 17
Barkley avoids the rush to toss a touchdown pass to Robert Woods despite Oregon's DBs holding him the in the endzone. Remarkable play by the Trojan offense who have continued to defy the odds by converting on 3rd down and not commit penalties today.
5:03 Oregon 34, USC 17
And just like that Oregon scores again following a nice run after the catch by Daryle Hawkins. Mariota pitched in with a long run on the drive. USC's offense is having some unexpected success moving the ball but there is no way they're going to keep up with the pace this Oregon offense is playing at. Ducks just scored in 56 seconds.
Rose Bowl MVP Kiko Alonso picks off the preseason Heisman winner after Barkley threw into quadruple coverage. Time to see that Oregon offense again.
2:37 Oregon 34, USC 24
USC scores on a 76-yard touchdown following a missed field goal by Oregon. The Ducks are one secondary away from this game being a blowout. Pathetic performance in this half.
... and Oregon fumbles the ball. USC drives the field and then fumbles again.
HALFTIME: Oregon 34, USC 24
A comedy of errors from Oregon to finish out the half but they maintain the lead. USC's offense has had success but the vast majority of their success came on two plays: a 75-yard pass to Marqise Lee and a 76-yard pass Nelson Aguilar. This has all the feeling of a game that could come down to the wire but keep in mind that USC has struggled in the second half this season. At some point, one expects the most-penalized team in the country to start committing penalties. At some point, one expects the Oregon defense to figure out USC's Hail Mary offense.
Frustration aside, the Ducks are still beating the spread. USC gets the ball to start the second half. Let's see if the Oregon secondary players have retracted their heads from their asses. Matt Barkley sideline facial expressions don't bely much confidence on his team. USC Fox color commentator regales us with the Trojans' miscues in the first half.
I don't like accusing announcers of showing favoritism, but if Gus could fit more SC cock in his mouth I'd be astonished.
Amazing play by Ifo defending Marqise Lee there. USC's offense is driving the field in a very precise, determined way. The Trojans came to play tonight, my brothers. The Ducks have, too, sans two plays in the first half.
9:59 Oregon 34, USC 31
Officials give USC a touchdown following their second questionable pass-interference call against the Oregon defense on the drive. A solid 5,000 play drive by USC that ate away 5 minutes from the clock ending with Silas Redd diving in from 4 yards out for the touchdown.
5:14 Oregon 41, USC 31
Kenjon Barner runs it in for his 3rd touchdown of the game. Creative spotting alone was not enough to stop this Oregon offense. USC's defense is rotating like crazy to avoid looking like the tired and thin team they are in the upcoming quarter. Now it's time for the Oregon defense to make some stops, which will be tough given the Pac-12 rules about pass defense versus USC.
USC fan expresses thoughts on Barner's touchdown
2:32 Oregon 41, USC 38
USC answers the Oregon drive with another methodical touchdown drive. Aliotti's "Let's Not Cover Marqise Lee" defensive gameplan appears to be backfiring as one of the worst teams in the nation at converting on 3rd downs has now converted about 9/10 3rd down attempts.
Chip Kelly's UPS commercial just ran, so this is definitely happening
Kenjon Barner is over 200+ yards and is on his way to a new school rushing record.
1:19 Oregon 48, USC 38
USC can continue scoring on Oregon on the Ducks' defense in methodical, lengthy drives. Oregon just keeps answering them in 3-4 play drives. Josh Huff with his second touchdown of the game following a wonderful route and perfect pass from Mariota. USC's defense quite literally has no one who can defend Mariota, Barner, Huff, or De'Anthony Thomas. Let alone a group of defensive starters who can defend all four.
End of the 3rd Quarter: Oregon 48, USC 38
After one quarter, we're back to where we were at halftime. USC has the ball. Oregon is up by 10. Ducks DE Dion Jordan reinjured his shoulder in the 3rd but everything else remains the same to start the 4th quarter. USC's offense is methodically driving the ball down the field. Oregon is answering every score with a quick touchdown of their own.
On a related note, Kenjon Barner has 250 yards rushing to enter the fourth quarter. LaMichael James set the single-game school rushing record of 288 yards last year against Arizona
And we get to see a punter for the first time tonight.
Send in the punters
Send in the punters
Send in the soulful, doleful, SCHMOLTZ by the bowlful.... punters
Send in the punters
9:15 Oregon 55, USC 38
Barner scrambles in for his fourth touchdown run of the game. He has set the school record with 289 yards rushing. Gus Johnson and Co. in the announcing booth appear to be shocked that a defense that gave up 588 yards to Arizona is currently being smoked by the Oregon offense. The Ducks in their Stormtrooper uniforms are beginning to impose their will.
Referees are determined to keep USC in the game. There is no way that pass interference call was legitimate. Unless jamming has become illegal in the 4th quarter. The officiating has been complete and utter bullshit tonight.
Referees have officially declared feelingsball for the remainder of tonight. Personal foul on Oregon.
The official review of the onside kick proves that bad officiating goes both ways tonight.
Oregon trots out their punting team for the first time of the game.
Kenjon Barner overcomes a holding penalty on a touchdown run to run for another touchdown from 20+ yards out. He has 321 yards and has scored 5 rushing touchdowns today. Record-setting day for him. No Duck has ever run for as many yards in a game and no player has ever run over USC like this. Impressive performance against a game USC team. Barner should be in the Heisman talk from here on out.
Wow. RT @insidetroy RT @yookc: Kenjon Barner has more rushing yards today than Washington St. has ALL SEASON.
USC scores with one second left in the game so they can feel good about themselves. Matt Barkley has almost 500 yards passing, hooray for him! Chip Kelly appears more or less perplexed by the amount of bullshit his team has had to overcome tonight. Ducks still beat the spread despite Marqise Lee playing the game of his life.
FINAL SCORE: Oregon 62, USC 51
The final bell tolls. Oregon escapes the Coliseum with a victory. The Trojans played an outstanding game on offense but it was not enough to outdo the efficient Oregon offense. A record-setting performance by Kenjon Barner made a USC win even more unlikely. Just an amazing performance by him. Barner has been a key playmaker for four years but was always overshadowed by the record-setting LaMichael James. Barner has more than made his mark: tonight he set an incredibly high bar for any future Oregon running back. Amazing performance by him, Mariota, Huff, and DAT to overcome a defense hamstrung by the officials' decision to outlaw pass defense.
One win down. Three more to go as the Ducks continue their march to a showdown with Alabama in Miami.