I am finished packing my equipment and am now decompressing from what was one of the best sporting events I’ve ever witnessed, either as a spectator or in a working capacity as I was in tonight with Westwood One. I’m talking about the USC/Oregon game here in Eugene, Ore., which the Trojans pulled out, 38-35. Ducks kicker Alejandro Maldonado had a chance to tie the game with five seconds left, but went wide left on his kick.
When the kick sailed wrong for Oregon, you could hear a pin drop in Autzen Stadium…
You always hear the term “heavyweight fight” when a game of this magnitude is about to be played. For once, this game lived up to the hype and beyond.
USC busted the Ducks in the chops and jumped out to a 14-0 lead, thanks to two Matt Barkley touchdown passes. Barkley has two of the best wideouts in the game in Marquise Lee and Robert Woods, and those three were in a rhythm all evening long.
Final stats for the three: Barkley was 26-of-34 for 323 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
Lee led the Trojans in catches (8) and receiving yards (187). He got the scoring started for USC with a 59-yard touchdown pass from Barkley. He was extremely effective on special teams as well. He had six returns for 134 yards. He is a special player no doubt.
Woods’ numbers weren’t as gaudy as Lee’s, but he complimented him quite well. He had seven catches for 53 yards and two touchdowns.
As effective as that trio was, the Trojans running game didn’t lag too far behind. USC isn’t known for being a great running team, but in order to beat Oregon, they had to be multifaceted on offense to keep the Ducks offense off the field, and that’s exactly what they did.
As a team, USC had 158 yards rushing on 38 attempts.
As my crew and I watched the Trojan lead grow to 38-14, I thought to myself “Oregon can still come back from this,” and they nearly did, just coming up short.
It was a game of ebbs and flows, but it seemed like a game that USC wanted from the start and they took the bull by the horns and got it.
USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin had his defense ready for the challenge that was to stop the Ducks potent offense, and what better way to do that than to get up early, shut down their running game and force Oregon to do what they don’t really want to do: pass the ball.
Running back LaMichael James gashed USC last year, but was held in check the entire game. He had just 78 yards rushing on 20 attempts. He did have one rushing touchdown.
Kenjon Barner picked up the slack for James and ran quite well, picking up 123 yards on 15 carries. He had two touchdowns of his own.
Sitting up in our broadcast booth, we see a lot from this vantage point, and even when Oregon scored 21 straight points to pull within three, the Trojans never got rattled,
but stayed the course, despite the blows they took from the Oregon offense.
I’ve seen the Ducks twice now in person, and they are VERY impressive! Nobody in college football is as innovative with their team than Chip Kelly is. They don’t know what the word “timeout” is. They go full bore on every single play, and they are exciting to watch.
However, the Trojans came in and snapped their 21-game winning streak here at Autzen Stadium and probably destroyed their national championship hopes in the process.
This is no doubt Lane Kiffin’s biggest win as head coach at USC, in what we here in the broadcast booth labeled “USC’s Bowl Game.”