After losing 62-51 to the No. 2 ranked Oregon Ducks, it might be easy for the Trojans to look to make excuses. There was a pass to Nelson Agholor in the endzone that was ruled incomplete, a blown defensive pass interference call on Matt Barkley’s first quarter interception, a costly Marqise Lee fumble going into the half, and a review on an onside kick that went Oregon’s way late in the game.
But despite those moments collectively making an argument for the difference in the game, the truth of that matter is that the Trojans couldn’t stop Oregon, making all of that irrelevant.
Even though the Trojans could have taken a second half lead if Lee didn’t fumble before the half, Oregon would have likely responded just as they did all night long: on three plays and in 47 seconds.
USC forced Oregon to punt just one time all night, in addition to forcing one turnover and a missed field goal. The latter two came in the first half, cancelling out a Barkley interception and giving the Trojans a chance to cut the Ducks’ lead to three to start the second half.
Had they forced the Ducks punt once in the first quarter, they just may have won the game. Had they stopped Oregon two more times at any point of the game, they surely would have won.
Despite the Trojans pushing Oregon, and doing so better than anyone has all season, it was Oregon’s ability to score on each of their first five drives that crippled USC and put them into a hole that they couldn’t get themselves out of, even had they had a break go their way offensively.
Oregon was always going to score. Marqise Lee not fumbling doesn’t change that. They were always going to score.