Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/20/11

The USC Trojans went to Oregon and came home with a win for the first time since 2005, beating the 4th-ranked Ducks, 38-35, and snapping Oregon’s 21-game winning streak at Autzen Stadium.

USC quarterback Matt Barkley continued to make a case for himself as a Heisman candidate and top NFL prospect, throwing for 323 yards and four touchdowns, and true freshman wide receiver Marqise Lee thrived in the hostile environment, gaining a career-high 187 yards.

USC freshman Marqise Lee had a marquee day against the powerful Ducks, with 8 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown

It took a few series for either team’s offense to get into a groove, but the Trojans got hot first and jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Barkley started the game 11 of 12 with two touchdowns; his first, to Marqise Lee, went for 59 yards and started the USC momentum rolling. On the Trojans’ next possession, the offense drove downfield and finished the drive with a touchdown to Robert Woods. Woods had seven catches for 53 yards after sitting out much of the week to heal injuries. Lee stepped up big time on a big stage to fill Woods’ shoes, with eight catches for 187 and a touchdown.

The Oregon offense stalled throughout the first half. The USC defense kept up with the Ducks’ lightning fast tempo and kept Oregon’s star backs from getting any running room but were a little soft in coverage, giving Colt Lyerla, David Paulson, and De’Anthony Thomas too much space and allowing Thomas to be get into the end zone on a wide open 29-yard play.

The Trojans were up, 14-7, just before halftime. It looked like the Ducks were going to put points on the board before the half and carry that momentum into the third quarter, but Oregon running back LaMichael James fumbled in the red zone and safety Jawanza Starling recovered to send the Trojans to the locker room.

USC came out just as strong to start the second half, forcing a three and out and then blocking the Ducks’ punt. The Trojans had excellent field position with 1st and 10 at the Ducks’ 12-yard line, but the Trojans came up a little short thanks to a fumbled snap – their second of the game – which Barkley quickly picked up and nearly threw straight at a defender. USC had to settle for a 26-yard field goal from Andre Heidari rather than a touchdown.

Heidari had an even bigger play on the following kickoff return, when he tackled speedy De’Anthony Thomas to save a touchdown on the return. It was only a postponement of the score, though, as Kenjon Barner scored a few plays later.

USC answered with a Marc Tyler touchdown, set up by a 41-yard pass to Marqise Lee. The Trojans’ defense held firm and forced a 3 and out, and USC’s offense went right back down the field on a long scoring drive. Barkley’s touchdown to tight end Randall Telfer made it a 38-14 game, and the Trojans seemed in position to put it away in the third quarter.

Just a play later though, Thomas faked a reverse and sprinted all the way to the end zone, going 96 yards on the kickoff return. The two-point conversion attempt was deflected, but Thomas’ run sparked the Ducks, who scored 21 unanswered points in the second half.

Until the kickoff return for the touchdown, USC had quickly answered every time Oregon scored, keeping the Ducks from gaining too much ground. They were unable to make anything happen after Thomas’ touchdown and gave the ball back to Oregon, which quickly scored on another Barner run.

USC’s next two drives, late in the fourth quarter, ended with turnovers. Barkley threw his only interception of the night late in the fourth quarter, and the Ducks capitalized. Kenjon Barner had two first down runs before Paulson made an unbelievable one-handed catch at the one, setting up an easy one yard touchdown for LaMichael James. This time, the two-point conversion was good, and the Ducks had pulled within a field goal of USC.

The Trojan got the ball back and put together an impressive drive to eat up clock and get some insurance points on the board, but 2nd down and 6 at the Oregon 11, Barkley and Tyler fumbled the handoff and Oregon recovered.

The game came down to one drive, with just over three minutes to play, and eventually one kick, with a few seconds remaining.  The Ducks’ offense was clicking, and the USC defense was clearly wearing down. The Trojans made some key stops, but they allowed Oregon to get within field goal range of a tie. Fortunately for USC, Alejandro Maldonado kicked wide left from 37 yards, giving USC its first win in the state of Oregon since 2005.

It’s being hailed as the first signature win for the Trojans, who lost the last three of four match-ups dating back to the Pete Carroll era. If the Trojans were eligible for the Pac-12 championship game this season, USC would have clinched the South division with the win.

Instead, they’ll play their final game of the year next weekend at home against crosstown rival UCLA. The Bruins are seeking another win of their own, which would send them to the Pac-12 championship game while USC is banned, and they’ll enter the Coliseum confident after a 45-6 drubbing of conference newbie Colorado. There’s a lot of excitement around the USC football team, particularly after the win at Oregon, but the Trojans can’t start looking ahead to 2012 until they focus on winning one more game.

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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