Dixon and Stewart too much for the Trojans
The Oregon Ducks had the third best rushing offense in the nation coming into Saturday's big showdown with the Trojans. The Ducks averaged 294.4 rushing yards a game behind the spectacular play of quarterback Dennis Dixon and tailback Jonathan Stewart.
On Saturday, the Ducks fell a hundred rushing yards short of their season average, but were still able to pull out a 24-17 victory over the Trojans at Autzen Stadium.
The Ducks all-everything tailback Jonathan Stewart showed why he is considered the best running back in the Pac-10 gaining 103 yard on 25 carries including two touchdowns.
Stewart's biggest play came on 3rd and 14 late in third quarter. The bruising tailback took a handoff and broke several tackles on his way to a 15-yard gain and a first down. "I was just trying to get to the line. I saw I had a long way to the sticks, so I had to give a little extra effort," said Stewart.
Oregon's dual-threat quarterback Dennis Dixon beat the Trojans with his quick feet and his strong arm. The senior quarterback rushed for 76 yards on 17 carries and also passed for 157 yards.
Dixon looked like a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate leading the Ducks to an impressive victory.
Three Second Half Turnovers Cost USC
Three second half turnovers proved to be too much for the Trojans to overcome this Saturday against the Oregon Ducks.
USC came out of the locker room and began the second half with an impressive 10 play 62-yard touchdown drive to tie the game 10-10. But the Trojans turned the ball over on their next two possessions and quickly fell behind 24-10. USC fullback Stanley Havili fumbled the ball on the Trojans second possession of the half and Oregon quickly responded with a 2 play 16-yard touchdown drive.
The next time the Trojans had the ball Matthew Harper intercepted a Mark Sanchez pass and the Ducks again turned the turnover into 7 points. Harper also intercepted Sanchez while the Trojans were driving with a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Harper's interception ended the Trojans comeback chances and sealed Oregon's 24-17 victory.
Patrick Turner Looks Good in the Loss
USC wide receiver Patrick Turner had his best performance of the season in Saturday's loss to the Ducks. Turner hasn't lived up to expectations so far this season but today's performance showed that he has the ability to be a dominant player for the Trojans.
Patrick Turner and Mark Sanchez looked very comfortable with each other today. On the opening drive of the second half, Sanchez hooked up with Turner three times for 52 yards including a 9-yard TD strike.
On the day Turner had 7 receptions for 107 yards and a TD.
Hopefully, Saturday's performance is a sign of things to come for the big wide receiver.
USC Offense has No Rhythm
One of the real shocks while looking over the box score was seeing that USC out-gained the Ducks 378 yards to 339.
That is surprising because when you watched the game, Oregon's offense had a consistent rhythm throughout the day. The Ducks game plan seemed to have a purpose behind it. Oregon wanted to spread the athletic USC defense out and attack them with Jonathan Stewart up the middle and have Dixon dance around the outside.
By contrast, the Trojans didn't look like they had any set plan of attack. The Trojans didn't try and establish the run early, something they should have attempted with a healthy offensive line. The Trojans also didn't attack the Oregon defense with any deep passes. Granted, Mark Sanchez is only starting his third game, but the young quarterback has a cannon for an arm, so why not at least attempt some deep throws to keep the defense honest.
As has been the case for most of the year, USC wasn't able to establish any identity on the offensive side of the ball. The coaches have fallen in love with the short passing game, which allows defenses to play tight coverage on the outside and crowd the line of scrimmage. With a young team I can definitely understand playing conservative to begin the year, but at this point in the season the Trojans game plan has gone from being conservative to simply unimaginative.
Special Teams Looks Sharp for USC
The Trojans definitely succeeded in outplaying the Ducks on special teams. USC caused two turnovers on special teams and managed not to make any major mistakes of their own.
On the opening kickoff of the game USC reserve wide receiver Brad Walker recovered a Andre Crenshaw fumble and the Trojans appeared to be in business. The Trojans got possession at the Oregon 21 yard-line but were stopped on 4th and 1 when freshman Joe McKnight was hit behind the line on an end around play.
The Trojans were able to convert the turnover into three points when David Buehler connected on a 30-yard field goal.
The USC coaches have really made it a priority to spend more time on special teams in practice lately and it showed with a very good performance against Oregon.
Bye, Bye BCS
With today's 24-17 loss to the Oregon Ducks, the Trojans look like they will not make a BCS bowl game for the first time since 2001. The Trojans have been on a remarkable run under Pete Carroll playing in 5 straight BCS bowl games.
A Family Affair
Three sets of brothers (Mathews, Rowe's and Tupou's) were on opposite sides of the field Saturday in Eugene. Alfred Rowe had 2 tackles for USC, Clay Mathews had one. Casey Mathews added 2 tackles and Kenny Rowe saw action for Oregon.
Senior offensive tackle Sam Baker left the game early because he re-injured his ailing hamstring. No word on the severity of the injury. SCPlaybook will keep you updated as soon as we get more news.