Saturday night’s USC vs. Oregon final score was a whopper, with the No. 7 Ducks blowing out the turnover-happy Trojans, 56-24.
The lowdown: Saturday night’s game can be split into two categories: the first quarter and then everything else.
USC dominated the opening act. They started with a 16-play scoring drive capped by true freshman Kedon Slovis patiently traversing the pocket before firing a touchdown pass to Drake London. Minutes later, they added a field goal set up by Isaiah Pola-Mao snagging Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert’s second interception of the season.
After 15 minutes, everything was going smoothly. The Trojans had held the Ducks to negative-11 yards rushing and also looked more than capable of scoring a bunch of points on a stout Oregon defense.
But then the second quarter happened, in which Slovis committed three turnovers. Oregon pounced. They capitalized each time like good teams do, scoring 21 charitable points in the quarter, including a 32-yard pick six by Brady Breeze. They also had a fumble recovery at their own seven-yard line, when the Trojans were threatening to score.
To make matters worse, USC’s most successful drive in the second quarter —a nine-play 74-yard touchdown drive with 20 seconds left to play make it 21-17— was immediately nullified by special teams coordinator John Baxter’s questionable decision to kick it deep on the ensuing kickoff. Mykael Wright promptly returned it 100 yards untouched.
It sucked the life out of the Coliseum and essentially killed off the game. From there on, it was all Oregon. They steamrolled a lifeless Troy in the second half, scoring 50-plus points in the Coliseum for the third time this decade.
Herbert completed 21 of his final 22 passes, and the Ducks led by as many as 39. It wasn’t until a late Slovis touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Kyle Ford that USC prevented this not being the worst loss to Oregon in school history. It ended as the second-worst, 56-24.
The embarrassing defeat runs USC’s record to 5-4 (4-2). They no longer control their own destiny in the Pac-12 South, unlike both Utah and UCLA.
The takeaway: Usually, saying the score isn’t indicative of how the game played out should be a credit to the losing team. That’s not the case on Saturday night, when USC sunk their own ship against the No. 7 Oregon Ducks.
They came out and punched Oregon in the mouth. The defensive line shut down the Ducks’ running game, they forced Justin Herbert into bad decisions and went up by double-digits. In the first half alone, the offense ran an incredible 55 plays, had a two-to-one time of possession advantage, only punted once, while keeping UO to just 16 rushing yards. That all should’ve been grounds for putting together another strong bid at upsetting a Top 10 team at the Coliseum this season.
But it wasn’t. Instead, USC shot themselves in the foot, stumbled and dug their own grave, before a more-than-eager Oregon team gladly buried ’em over and over and over again.
There were horrific turnovers. There were outlandish penalties. There was an inexplicable special teams gaffe. It was a greatest hits of the last frustrating decade of USC football.
So while the Trojans showed they absolutely can play with the vaunted Ducks in a potential Pac-12 Championship Game rematch, their mistake-riddled performance once again proved they’re snuggly secure in a purgatory of mediumness.
The blowout all but assured a program restart is coming.
Stat of the game: With 57 pass attempts, Kedon Slovis broke Todd Marinovich’s single-game school record. Marinovich had amassed 55 against Notre Dame in 1989.
Next on tap: The Trojans will look to bounce back with a road trip to Tempe to play the Arizona State Sun Devils next Saturday afternoon. With a 5-4 record, USC needs one more win to secure bowl eligibility.