USC proves why they are No. 1

For one quarter the Oregon Ducks looked like world-beaters and then the USC Trojans kicked in the accelerator and for three-quarters the Ducks looked beaten and abused. USC firmly trounced Oregon 45-13 in front of the largest crowd in Autzen Stadium history, 59,129.

(PHOTO) Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens, left, congratulatesSouthern California quarterback Matt Leinart after their game in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Sept. 24, 2005. The Trojans beat the Ducks 45-13 for their 25th consecutive win.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

"It was a game for a half, it wasn't a game in the second half," said Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti. "I give credit to USC for that. We did not keep pressure on them with our offense, which we felt we needed to do and our defense got worn down."

The Ducks started off well enough by scoring 10 points in the first quarter off a Paul Martinez field goal of 37 yards and a 36-yard pass play from Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens to wide receiver Demetrius Williams. Even into the second quarter when Martinez kicked a second field goal of 48 yards things seemed good for the green and yellow but then USC shrugged off the noise of Autzen Stadium and went on to score 45 unanswered points.

The Men of Troy sputtered in the first half when they marched down the field on their first possession, but turned the ball over on a Matt Leinart errant pass. Oregon cornerback Aaron Gipson picked up his fourth interception of the season when he took Leinart's pass from the Oregon endzone and ran it back to the Oregon 38. The interception led to the Williams touchdown reception and it looked as if USC would be entering a new area for them, being dominated by the other team. However, that didn't last long as the Trojans mounted a 10 play, 70 yard drive that ended up with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Leinart to Reggie Bush and just before halftime, USC scored again on a 36-yard field goal by Mario Danelo. That was as bright as it got for Oregon.

"We definitely felt tested," said Bush, who ended up with 122 yards on 29 carries and one touchdown rushing plus three catches for 43 yards and one touchdown receiving. "We had to go in at halftime and regroup. It was our first conference game. We had a little bit of a shaky start.

The noise of Autzen Stadium may have had an affect on the Trojans in the first part of the game, but as the afternoon turned to evening, the noise softened as USC made play after play. In the third quarter, Oregon was unable to sustain drives and only had the ball on three possessions and only got a net 11 yards of offense. Meanwhile, Southern California scored three touchdowns and racked up 206 yards of offense in the third quarter alone. Overall, USC had 593 yards of total offense, 278 rushing yards and 315 passing yards. Oregon on the other hand had a grand total of 262 yards, 65 net yards of rushing and only 197 yards of passing.

"I was a little concerned," said USC Head Coach Pete Carroll of his feelings going into halftime. "But history has that we're strong in the second half."

Leinart ended up the contest going 23-of-39, 315 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He was only sacked once, causing Bellotti to say some kind words about the USC line.

"That offensive line is as good as any I've ever seen," remarked Bellotti. "They performed very well."

The USC line not only protected Leinart, but also allowed Bush and Lendell White to have a field day. Bush was nearly unstoppable as the game wore on and White seemed to come out of nowhere to finish up with 111 yards of rushing on 15 carries and two touchdowns. Dwayne Jarrett was the leading receiver with eight catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns.

Oregon's statistics were gloomy today. Clemens finished up 15-for-30, 168 yards and one touchdown. Dennis Dixon came in the third quarter and did add a spark with a 6-of-7 throwing for 29 yards. Dixon also ended up as the leading rusher with a net 21 yards on five carries. Terrell Jackson had 2 carries for 18 yards, Niles Mittasch had two carries for 17 yards. Terrence Whitehead was held to 14 net yards on seven carries.

Demetrius Williams finished with five catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. James Finley, who survived a vicious block on a USC lineman in fourth quarter, had four catches for 45 yards. Garren Strong had two catches for 24 yards and Whitehead had four catches for 18 yards.

In this game, USC completely dominated the Ducks in all aspects of the game. There were two touchdowns that the Ducks scored called back due to penalties, and maybe those lost scores could have turned things around. Whitehead scored once on a screen pass but the play was called back because of a personal foul and later on Cameron Colvin scored on a reverse, but that play was nullified because of a clipping call.

"More than anything else it was the touchdowns that got called back that hurt us the most," observed Bellotti. "When you actually score and then it gets taken away from you, that hurt us, we can't allow that to happen."

Whether the scores would have made any difference in this game is something that can be debated, but what can not be debated is that USC was simply the better team. There is no doubting why they are the No. 1 team in the country and twice defending national champion.

Bellotti and his team will now regroup and head to Palo Alto next week to take on Stanford. The Cardinal had the week off after last week's humiliating 20-17 loss to UC Davis last week. Bellotti wants to ensure his team will not take Stanford lightly and hopes to improve on the Ducks 3-1 record.

"I have some huge concerns about Stanford," remarked Bellotti. "They're coming off what they might consider the worst loss in their history to UC Davis, and they've had two weeks to stew on that.

"My main goal this week is make sure that USC doesn't beat us twice," said Bellotti.

Being beaten by USC once is plenty enough.

The Stanford game is scheduled for a 2 p.m. kickoff.

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