SCORE: 34-24 At The Half
Making it look easy, Oregon again scored on USC to open the second quarter when Kenjon Barner blew past defenders for a 27-yard score. Up 21-3, it looked like the rout was on early in Los Angeles, something the Trojans were hoping to avoid.
But like they did not do on their previous possession, USC answered by way of a 75-yard bomb from Barkley to Lee that culminated in him trotting into the endzone. Heidari’s extra point attempt was good, and USC cut the score 21-10 in thirteen seconds.
For the Trojans’ momentum, this was huge.
Again though, Oregon used that break-neck speed they are known for to further wear down the Trojan defense. Barner, with 12 carries and 136 yards up to this point in the game, scored again with ease. Up 28-10, the Ducks have been playing with poise and absolutely no fear. They dare the Trojan defense to stop them, and they have yet to do so even slightly. To their credit, the defense has been making plays, but without forcing fumbles and by getting bad angles on plays, it has not been enough to even dent Oregon’s success.
Oregon scored on each of its first four possession, and looked as if they had no intention of slowing down.
RB Silas Redd continued to use his wheels to shred Oregon for yards, earning big first-down runs for the Trojans. Then fellow RB Curtis McNeal came in and did the same thing, eating up 20 yards to earn a third consecutive first down. The Trojans were knocking on the Ducks’ door again, nearing the endzone with each hugh run. on third and 11, Barkley hit Marqise Lee who stiff armed his way to the first down.
In the redzone, USC took care of business this time: Barkley, on third down and under duress, maintained his composure to not only avoid the sack, but to hit WR Robert Woods in the far corner of the endzone. Woods has had a quiet night thus far, but that was surely a big-time play from this Trojan receiver.
The Trojans continue to fight, chipping into the score again to bring it 27-17.
Then Oregon scored in 56 seconds. And all the Trojan momentum was gone again. Marcus Mariota took it up the gut for more than thirty yards and then he threw it to Daryle Hawkins on the next play for a 14-yard score.
On USC’s next drive, Barkley tried to make something out of nothing and it came back to bite him. He was easily picked off for the second time in the first half and the Ducks now had excellent field position to further their led. For the first time all night, USC’s defense stopped the Blur. The Ducks elected to kick and it was no good, allowing USC to get a leg back in this race.
Nelson Agholor must have still wanted his touchdown moment, and to alert everyone that he has arrived as USC’s third receiver. He split defenders, made, the catch and took it took it to the house for a 76-yard touchdown.
And with that, the USC/Oregon shootout was back on.
With the score now 34-24, Oregon took the field and as they were looking poised to score again, they turned the ball over and USC recovered. Their first turnover came at an inopportune time, as it put USC in a position to possibly further cut the lead going into the half.
Silas Redd picked up a Trojan first down on a 19-yard game, and the Trojans drew closer to being in scoring position. Then McNeal punched the Ducks some more with a 21-yard gain up the sideline, finally being brought down near the 30. 25 yards later, McNeal again blew up the Oregon defense and the Trojans were in the Ducks’ redzone.
Lee subsequently tried to make a big play for more positive yards but to no avail. He fumbled, and the Ducks took over with 15 seconds left. It would not be enough time for the Ducks to do anything with it, much to the relief of USC.
The Ducks and Trojans jogged off the field with the Ducks leading 34-24.
If you’re Lane Kiffin, you have to count keeping the Ducks’ off the board late in the half as a win, and be decently pleased with the way they closed it out. At points it looked as if Oregon would run away with it, but the Trojans almost always struck back. The defense responded, as did Barkley, who is not playing like he is afraid despite throwing two picks.
Neither team’s secondary is doing them any favors, and it seems like this game will come down to who does more with the possessions they get.
After two quarter, the Trojans have Ducks have put up more than 800 yards combined. Barkley is 17 for 26, 303 yards and three touchdowns, while Marcus Mariota is 14 of 16, 213 yards and three touchdowns as well. Oregon’s Kenjon Barner has 16 carries for 169 yards and two scores, and USC’s Silad Redd and Curtis McNeal have 101 yards between them.
It is imperative that the Trojans come out of the half prepared to capitalize on Oregon’s weaknesses, while trying to minimize those of their own. From here on out, the team that makes the least mistakes will certainly be the victor.