For three-quarters of the game, Oregon's defense held USC in check and had the Trojans ready to cave in after Steve Smith's third interception. The Ducks were leading the game 21-6, then suddenly USC quarterback Carson Palmer found Sultan McCollough in the flat and McCollough scampered 75-yards for a touchdown and cut Oregon's lead to 21-13 with point after. As has been so typical of Duck football, the fourth quarter would be an absolute roller coaster ride for the fans and the national audience watching the game of Fox Sports.
On the first play of the fourth quarter Palmer would find Kareem Kelly all alone in the Oregon secondary and 93-yards and point after later the Trojans were trailing the Ducks 21-19. After a change of possession the Trojans again scored on a 39-yard field goal by David Davis and suddenly the Ducks were behind 22-21.
"We made plays at the end when we had to and we obviously all would like to see that happen a little earlier," said Bellotti. "But the bottom line and the bottom result is we got the ‘W."
It only took the Ducks until the last 56 seconds with one time out and 76-yards to go to pull the latest rabbit out of their bill, er hat. Joey Harrington added another chapter to the Joe College legend by directing the last ditch, do-or-die drive.
After a blocked Duck field goal with 1:30 left in the game, doom and an end to the Oregon home game win streaked seemed like a sure thing. The Ducks used two of their three time outs stopping the clock on the ensuing Southern Cal possession. Then it seemed the Autzen mystique jumped up and snake-bit the Trojans. SC simply had to run out the time on the clock. The Trojans ran the ball twice and the Ducks called time out after each down. Then for some reason Palmer rolled out to his left and rather than taking a knee and causing the Ducks to use their last time, Palmer threw the ball out of bounds stopping the clock. The Ducks took possession deep in their own territory after a SC punt, and up stepped Harrington. Hitting Justin Peelle and Keenan Howry on consecutive first down passes, then throwing one incomplete pass, Harrington found Howry once again for a 22-yard pass and putting the Ducks into a real scoring opportunity; all this with less than a minute to play in the game.
"This team has been in these situations," said Harrington. "We knew we were getting the ball back. There was a very quiet confidence on the sideline."
The drama heightened as the last minute drive continued. Harrington completed a pass to Samie Parker for a 3-yard gain and only 30 seconds left in the contest. The Ducks called their last time out and when they came back onto the field Harrington would make one more completion to Jason Willis on the SC 15-yard line. In comes Siegel and the rest goes down in Duck history as anther win.
"Can we keep winning like this, of course we can," said Harrington. "Do we want to? No we don't."
Harrington finished the game with 188 yards on 22 completion on 35 attempts, with one touchdown. Maybe not the gaudy Heisman numbers some would expect, but the quality of those yards, particularly when the yardage was most needed is indisputable.
Maurice Morris broke out of the early season slump he had been in by carrying the ball 15 times with 86 yards net rushing. Peelle had six catches for 95 yards and Howry had five catches for 46 yards.
Smith was the star of the defense that for the most part dominated SC. Smith had three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. Smith was also credited with six and half tackles; three pass deflections and was in on one quarterback sack.
"Steve Smith is the hardest working player on our football team," said Bellotti.
The Ducks did suffer some injuries though. Mike Belisle with a foot injury, Cory Chambers with a sprained knee and the scariest moment was when A.K. Keyes was taken off the field with on a cart. It was reported later that Keyes does have feeling in all his extremities with no fractures.
Palmer had mixed results for USC in his performance with 411 yards on 40 attempts and 25 completions. Plamer was also intercepted three times and was sacked five times. Kelly led all receivers with four catches for 165 yards.
The usually raucous and noisy Autzen stadium was absolutely quiet for a few moments prior to the game when a tribute was made to the victims and rescuers of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. The stadium was full of patriotism and enthusiasm. In a world in which the meaning of normal has been changed, one thing seems to remain constant and that is the Ducks will always make it exciting.