No. 2 Oregon Ducks Score At Will In Impressive Road Victory Over Rival USC
LA Times Gary Klein on the explosive Oregon Ducks 62-51 victory over USC behind RB Kenjon Barner’s record setting day:
The numbers didn’t lie.
Not before the game and certainly not after.
Second-ranked Oregon rolled into the Coliseum on Saturday with the nation’s highest-scoring offense.
The Ducks rolled out with a 62-51 victory over staggering USC, setting a slew of opponent records in the process.
“They did their thing,” Trojans safety T.J. McDonald said. “We didn’t.”
With running back Kenjon Barner rushing for 321 yards and five touchdowns, Oregon amassed 730 yards en route to a victory that improved the Ducks’ record to 9-0 and kept them in the race for a berth in the Bowl Championship Series title game.
Meanwhile, USC surrendered the most points and yards in its history and fell to 6-3 overall and 4-3 in the Pac-12 Conference.
“They played the way they usually play,” USC linebacker Hayes Pullard said. “Real fast.”
Because the Ducks play in the Pac-12 North, the Trojans might still have a chance to win the South and play in the conference title game for an opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl.
But fliers distributed in the press box before the game advertising the Alamo Bowl might be a more realistic predictor of the Trojans’ fate. If not the Holiday or Sun bowls.
Playing in Oregon’s new “White Vapor” uniforms, Barner left a vapor trail while breaking the previous record of 241 yards rushing set by Penn State’s Curtis Enis in 1996.
USC nearly overcame an early 21-3 deficit and cut Oregon’s 34-24 halftime lead to three points late in the third quarter, but the Ducks always had an answer.
“Our offense brought their A game,” linebacker Dion Bailey said. “We didn’t.”
USC had no answer for Barner, a senior from Riverside, or Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who looked nothing like a redshirt freshman at the controls of the offense that had averaged 53 points a game.
“When we needed big plays, Marcus had them,” Coach Chip Kelly said.
Mariota completed 20 of 23 passes for 304 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions. He also ran for 96 yards as Oregon converted seven of 11 third downs and both of its fourth downs.
“The quarterback didn’t make many mistakes, which is unique for a freshman on the road,” USC Coach Lane Kiffin said.
USC’s offense tried to keep pace — each team punted only once — but that proved near impossible. Quarterback Matt Barkley passed for 484 yards and five touchdowns, but he also had two passes intercepted. USC committed three turnovers to one for the Ducks.
Receiver Marqise Lee, who had 469 all-purpose yards last week against Arizona, had 408 (157 yards receiving, 251 on returns) and scored two touchdowns against the Ducks.
But that was not enough against a team that is fourth in the BCS standings and intent on returning to the title game for the second time in three years.
“I felt like we had to play perfect on offense and score every drive,” Barkley said.
Despite the three turnovers — all in the first half — USC trailed only 34-24 at halftime.
The Trojans made it a three-point game on the opening drive of the second half, Barkley moving them 65 yards and tailback Silas Redd scoring on a short touchdown run to pull USC to within 34-31.
But Mariota was not shaken. He coolly completed a fourth-down pass during a 75-yard scoring drive that Barner capped with his third touchdown, a nine-yard run for a 41-31 lead.
Lee returned the ensuing kickoff 82 yards to set up Redd’s short touchdown run, once again cutting the deficit to three points.
But Mariota stepped up again, passing to Josh Huff for a 36-yard touchdown to push the margin to 48-38.
USC could not answer. Facing fourth and six at its own 42-yard line early in the fourth quarter, Kiffin elected to punt for the first time.
“I just kept feeling we’d make a stop,” Kiffin said, “and we’d make a play or they’d screw up on offense.”
Oregon turned to Barner, who carried seven times during an 85-yard march that ended with his fourth touchdown and a 55-38 lead.
Barkley’s touchdown pass to Randall Telfer made it 55-45, but Barner put the game out of reach with his final touchdown with just under two minutes left.
The Trojans said they would welcome a rematch with the Ducks. But first, they would have to get past Arizona State and UCLA and have Arizona lose.
“If we get that chance, maybe then we’ll come more prepared and ready to go,” McDonald said. “But right now, we can’t worry about that.”