Same Old Story

STANFORD, Calif. – Barkley and Woods connect for 224 yards and three touchdowns, but defense again give up late drive as USC falls at Stanford, 37-35.

STANFORD, Calif. – It was déjà vu all over again.

A game-winning field goal as time expired. A career performance wasted.

Only instead of Jake Locker, Erik Folk and Washington, this time it was Andrew Luck, Nate Whitaker and Stanford that stunned USC in the final moments, 37-35, Saturday night at Stanford Stadium in front of a record crowd of 51,607.

"It's really disappointing to end two games on a field goal like that and it just stings," quarterback Matt Barkley said.

The Cardinal (5-1, 2-1 Pac-10) drove 62 yards in seven plays in the final 1:02 to set up Whitaker's 30-yard kick, aided by a controversial personal foul on the Trojan linebackers.

Chris Galippo swore he never heard a whistle as he and Shane Horton wrestled with Stanford receiver Doug Baldwin as fought for more yardage, but a 15-yard dead ball personal foul was called, moving the ball out to the Cardinal 45.

Luck completed his next two passes, Stephan Taylor rushed for 21 yards on two carries to set up Whitaker, who earlier missed an extra point by hitting the left upright.

"When you play a good team like that and have an opportunity to close it out, you have to close it out," USC coach Lane Kiffin said.

The Trojans (4-2, 1-2 Pac-10) had no answers for Luck, who completed 20 of 24 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns, Taylor, Baldwin or anyone else on the Stanford offense.

If not for three critical takeaways, USC might never have been in position to take the lead in the final moments.

Galippo, who rotated at middle linebacker on a series-by-series basis with Devon Kennard, knocked the ball loose from Taylor as the Cardinal tried to run out the clock.

Corner Torin Harris recovered the ball and the Trojans marched 51 yards on the ensuing drive for the go-ahead score capped by Allen Bradford's three-yard touchdown run.

The back-and-forth affair was a far cry from last year's 55-21 bloodbath at the Coliseum.

"It could have been the other way, come in here and have a game like last year, then you question a lot of things and where you go. I'd rather have it this way where you're questioning what more can we do to finish a game off. It's a lot better than that," Kiffin said.

Barkley, who threw an interception returned for a touchdown in that game, was nearly flawless tonight.

The sophomore threw for a career-high 390 yards, 224 yards and all three touchdowns going to freshman receiver Robert Woods.

"I thought Matt really kind of played like Jake did last week, where he made so many critical plays. He could have even had better numbers. He threw a lot of really good balls today," Kiffin said.

After a week of second-guessing, the Trojans bounced back, especially on offense where they rolled up 498 yards even as the ground game struggled. They also converted nine of 15 third downs and two of three tries on fourth down.

"I was pleased by the way the team responded," Kiffin said. "This was a week where every time they pick up an article, it's how the USC dynasty is over and will take 10 years to come back."

But the recurring issues that have plagued the team all season long were again evident. The defense still couldn't make stops and aided the Cardinal with several ill-advised penalties. Stanley Havili lost a fumble in the red zone and the normally-strong special teams gave up an 88-yard kickoff return to Chris Owusu.

"You got to be careful getting on kids too much. A game like that, one play," Kiffin said. Top Stories