Ducks Demolish USC 53-32

The last time Oregon Ducks (8-0, 5-0) played in the LA Coliseum, the USC Trojans' victory bell rang all night long. Tonight however, the AP's No. 1 ranked Ducks left satisfied with a 53-32 win and a statement to the rest of the football world: there is no doubt, the Ducks belong in those oh so lofty rankings.

(PHOTO) Oregon wide receiver Jeff Maehl makes a touchdown catch as Southern California safety Jawanza Starling and Oregon wide receiver D.J. Davis (10) look on during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

"We knew they are a talented team," said Oregon Head Coach Chip Kelly of USC and the outcome of the game. "We knew it was going to be a battle."

The game was competitive for three quarters but the Ducks' execution and two splendid individual performances on offense and a defensive performance that has become Oregon's trademark. The Duck defense shut the Trojans out in the fourth quarter while quarterback Darron Thomas threw for 288 yards and four touchdowns, while running back LaMichael James ripped the Trojan defense up for 239 and two touchdowns on 36 carries.

"I was thinking I would feel we couldn't even breathe of line up with their tempo," said USC's Land Kiffen of the game. "But we line up well. But those are two great players, their quarterback and tailback had career days today."

USC took the opening kickoff and looked like they would back up all the talk that took place during the week and drove the ball to the Oregon 15 before running out of gas and were forced to kick a 32-yard field goal to put USC up 3-0. Oregon took the ensuing kickoff and took 2:13 to drive 80 yards culminating in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to Jeffery Maehl. The Ducks converted for 2-points when back up Nathan Costa hit Brandon Bair making the score 8-3 Oregon. The teams traded possessions but USC retook the lead on a 48-yard, five play drive that lasted 2:43 ending when Marc Tyler plunged in from the Oregon 1 to score. The PAT was good and USC was up 10-8. The first quarter ended with USC atop and again the teams traded possessions into the 2nd quarter.

LaMichael James went over 1,000 yards for the season on a 42-yard touchdown run as the Ducks mounted a sustained drive of 46 yards and went up 15-10 after the Rob Beard extra point. The Trojans responded with a 61-yard drive that ended when Tyler ran the ball in from the Oregon 8. With the PAT good, USC was up 17-15

Things started to turn a little crazy with just under nine minutes to play in the half. First Josh Huff took the ensuing kickoff but fumbled and recovered the ball on the Oregon 32. Oregon was unable to do anything and were forced to punt after three snaps. USC fielded the punt and had great field position on its own 40. USC signal caller Matt Barkley hit Brandon Carswell for a gain of 16 yards but his next pass was incomplete. Then disaster struck as USC center Kristofer O'Dowd hiked the ball but Barkley, lined up in the shotgun formation, was not looking for it. The ball hit Barkley in the ankles and Oregon's Boseko Lokombo pounced on the loose ball.

All season Oregon has exploited turnovers into points and this instance was no different. Thomas hit Maehl on a 45-yard touchdown strike on the first play. PAT was good and Oregon regained the lead 22-17.

Oregon tacked on another touchdown with on 1:38 left in the half when Lavasier Tuinei hauled in a 33-yard pass from Thomas and Oregon extended its lead to 29-17 as the teams went into the locker room for halftime.

Just when it looked like Oregon was going to cruise through rest of the game, Thomas was picked off deep in Duck territory. Barkley hit Ronald Johnson for a 5-yard score and cut the Ducks' lead to 29-24.

Oregon committed two costly penalties that gave USC great field position following a punt by Jackson Rice and the Trojans took the lead when Barkley ran the ball in from a yard out and to add insult to injury USC converted a 2-point attempt to give USC the lead 32-29.

"Our team feels like they get stronger as the second half goes along," said Kelly of his team. "It's great with this group of guys because there is no panicking."

Oregon showed its resilience with a responding 69-yard drive finishing with Thomas hitting his fourth touchdown on 30-yard completion to Maehl was up 36-32 and would never look back.

In perhaps the most impressive drives of the night, the Ducks drove the ball 82 yards just before the end of the 3rd quarter that was capped off with a 2-yard run by James. Oregon extended the lead to 43-32. While Oregon held USC scoreless in the 4th quarter, Oregon tacked on 3 more points to make the game 46-32 when Rob Beard hit a field goal from 34 yards out.

"It's important that we finish drives," Kelly added. "Even when we finish with a field goal, it was a long drive and we could come out and kick a field goal and get some points out of it."

When John Boyett picked off Barkley in the endzone the stadium went silent as Trojan fans headed to the exits at the 5:25 mark of the 4th quarter. James scored his second touchdown of the night on a 8-yard touchdown run with 2:45 to play giving the Ducks the final victory margin of 21 and the final score 53-32.

Maehl led Oregon in receiving with 145 yards on eight catches and three touchdowns (a career best). In another career best, Tuinei had seven catches for 78 yards and a score. Huff also rushed twice for 28 yards while Thomas had eight carries for 42 net yards.

Barkley's night ended with 264 yards on 26-for-49, one touchdown, two interceptions and he was sacked twice. Robert Woods was the Trojans' leading receiver with 59 yards seven receptions. Johnson had four receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown.

Marc Tyler was USC's leading rusher with 69 net yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively Spencer Paysinger's 12 tackles (nine solos) and Casey Matthews' 10 tackles (six solos), including one tackle for loss and a pass break up, led the Ducks. Kenny Rowe added to his sack total (five this season, 21.5 career) with one sack as did Josh Kaddu with a sack. In all Oregon recorded eight tackles for loss against USC. Cliff Harris and Boseko Lokombo each had an interception.

Jackson Rice punted five times and averaged 46.4 yards per punt with two landing inside the 20.

USC was paced in tackles by Devon Kennard with 13 (six solos).

For the game Oregon had 599 yards of total offense (311 rushing, 288 passing) compared to USC's 377 (113 rushing, 264 passing.) USC had three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble) Oregon's two (one interception and one fumble.) The Ducks were flagged eight times for 85 yards to USC's three penalties for minus 22 yards.

Oregon's win should once and for all convince those who wonder just how good the Oregon Ducks can be. Oregon scored and held an opponent with an enormous amount of talent scoreless in the final quarter of the game. Even when the game might have still been within striking distance, the Ducks found ways of keeping the game in control.

While many had pointed to this game in Los Angeles as one that would truly mark if Oregon has arrived and deserve the rankings they now enjoy, Kelly kept steady on what the value of one win is in the race for a championship.

"Every game we play is a Super Bowl game for us," summed up Kelly of the importance of this win over USC. "This one was as good as the Tennessee game as was the Arizona State game and it goes on and on."

Notes:

James broke the 100-yard rushing mark for the 15th time in his career, surpassing Jonathan Stewart (2005-07) for the most in UO history
James notched his third 200-yard game of his career , all done this season and he is now second all-time in school history behind Reuben Droughns, who had four (3 in 1998, 1 in '99).
Now with 2,756 career-rushing yards, James moved into fifth on Oregon's career list.
Thomas now has 20 touchdown throws for the season, the most since Dennis Dixon in 2007.
DT Brandon Bair scored his first career points, catching a 2-point conversion from senior QB Nate Costa.
Jeff Maehl has caught a touchdown in the last six straight games and extended his string of consecutive games with at least one reception to 29. His three-touchdown reception performance tonight was a career best. It was also the third straight 100-yard receiving game for Maehl and the fifth in his career.
The Ducks are 8-0 for the second time in school history, the first since 1933.
Tuinei set career marks for single-game receptions (7) and receiving yards (78).
Lokombo recovered his third fumble of the season, tying Matthews for the team lead.
53 points were the most ever scored by the Ducks vs. USC in 57 all-time meetings (47 in 2009).
Harris leads the Pac-10 with five interceptions this season. It was also his sixth career interception.
Boyett's fourth quarter pick was his third of the season and sixth of his career.
USC had the longest punt return of the season vs. UO, 55 yards by Ronald Johnson. The previous long was 3 yards (twice).
The Trojans scored the most points of any Oregon opponent since Oregon State scored 33 on Dec. 3, 2009 in a 37-33 UO win.
USC became the seventh opponent in eight games to be held scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Oregon's victory was its first at the Coliseum since a 28-17 win Oct. 14, 2000.
The Ducks improved to 2-0 against top 25 teams this season and are 6-2 under Chip Kelly vs. ranked teams.
Oregon improved to 20-3 in Pac-10 play since the start of the 2008 season.
The Ducks are now 13-0 when leading at the half and 17-0 when leading after three quarters under Kelly.
The Ducks had three touchdown drives of five plays or fewer, giving them 25 such drives out of 51 TD drives on the season.
UO wore silver cleats for the first time


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