The Oregon Ducks have had one of the easiest schedules in recent memory up to this point in the season, which is the No. 1 reason they’ve been leapfrogged in the BCS rankings over the last few weeks.
A 62-51 defeat over the USC Trojans should begin to combat the criticism, as the Ducks BCS title hopes are as alive as ever.
This game wasn’t easy by any means, but if anything, that further solidifies the notion that the Trojans aren’t a bunch of scrubs. Their 6-3 record isn’t what most expected heading into to the year, but they gave Oregon a run for their money, and the Ducks will now take the momentum into their matchup next week with the California Golden Bears.
Offensive Game Ball
The Ducks found offense all over the field against the Trojans, but Saturday night belonged to the senior tailback who has officially entered the Heisman conversation, Kenjon Barner.
Kenjon Barner carried the ball 38 times for a school-record 321 yards. His 8.4 yards-per-carry average is nice to see on the stat sheet, but it’s his five rushing touchdowns against USC’s massive defensive line that proves he is worthy of Heisman consideration as the season nears its end.
Anybody can look at the stats and see that Barner played well, but for those who missed the game, you can’t understand just how valuable he was to the team in Los Angeles.
His willingness to bounce to the outside is where the big-play threat comes from, and his ability to read a defense and change directions is beginning to remind fans of the team’s most recent Heisman candidate, LaMichael James.
As great as Barner’s historic performance was, the guy didn’t win this game on his own. Marcus Mariota had as efficient a game as you can ask for from any quarterback in the nation and Josh Huff finally proved to his believers that he can be counted on as a No. 1 receiving option.
This offense is as potent as it gets in college football, and they’re doing everything in their power to get back to the BCS National Championship this season.
Defensive Game Ball
The Ducks’ defense had been solid early, holding USC to a field goal on their first possession, but it was the second drive that saw the game’s first huge play.
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu picked off Matt Barkley in one-on-one coverage in the back of the end zone to save a score. His physical play with the receiver wasn’t appreciated by the USC sideline, but the play held up and the Ducks took over with a 14-3 lead.
Kiko Alonzo also deserves mention for his performance. The linebacker was all over the field from start to finish, and he even had an interception of his own in the exciting first half.
The second, third and fourth quarters featured 48 points scored from each team, which means that Oregon’s 14-3 showing in the first is what set the pace and helped weather the storm when the Trojans fought back.
- Marcus Mariota—20/23 304 YDS 4 TD 0 INT
- Kenjon Barner—38 CAR 321 YDS 8.4 AVG 5 TD
- De’Anthony Thomas—5 REC 59 YRDS 11.8 AVG 1 TD
- Daryle Hawkins—3 REC 35 YRDS 11.7 AVG 1 TD
- Josh Huff—6 REC 125 YRDS 20.8 AVG 2 TD