USC football vs. Oregon final score: Trojans lose sloppy game and let title slip away

USC football vs. Oregon. (Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)
USC football vs. Oregon. (Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) /

USC football played poorly as Oregon pulled the Pac-12 title out from under them

The 2020 season ended in disappointment for USC football as they fell in the Pac-12 title game to a two-loss Oregon squad at the Coliseum.

The Trojans had the chance to complete an undefeated campaign but were sunk by familiar mistakes and miscues.

Here’s how it went down…

USC football 24, Oregon 31

The lowdown: USC started slowly, even more so than last week’s lackluster opening against UCLA.

Kedon Slovis tossed two bad interceptions in the first quarter, setting up two Oregon touchdowns. A blocked punt set the Ducks up for another touchdown in the second quarter.

The Trojan offense was a mess in the early minutes, but Slovis started to hit his stride and managed to find Amon-Ra St. Brown wide open downfield after his defender slipped. The receiver leaped into the endzone to put USC on the board.

Drake London was key on the next scoring drive, setting up a short Markese Stepp touchdown run.

USC actually had the chance to go into halftime with the game tied. Kana’i Mauga picked off a Tyler Shough pass over the middle and returned it into dangerous territory. However, with flags flying on multiple plays, the Trojans settle for a field goal attempt, which Parker Lewis missed from 41 yards.

Oregon used up half of the third quarter on their first drive, taking advantage of a series of Trojan mistakes to keep their offense on the field. They scored a touchdown to take a two-score lead again.

USC responded with a methodical drive of their own, but they had to settle for a field goal.

Special teams delivered what felt like a game-changing play as Lewis dinked an onside kick into the arms of Bru McCoy. However, the Ducks swarmed USC’s offense and forced a punt.

The Trojan defense got a much-needed stop that was wiped out by an inexplicable roughing the punter penalty committed by Talanoa Hufanga. Oregon generated a field goal out of that to lead 31-17 in the fourth quarter.

USC mounted a touchdown drive capped by a fourth-down touchdown pass from Slovis to Bru McCoy.

With the Trojans trailing by seven, they needed a stop from the defense and they delivered. After three quick plays, USC’s offense was back on the field.

However, the Slovis magic was all dried up. While facing pressure, the quarterback tried to throw the ball away but left it too far inbounds. Oregon’s Jamal Hill bagged his second interception of the night with an impressive bobbling, toe-tapping catch on the sideline.

Even though USC had two timeouts, the Ducks were able to burn clock, punting the ball back to the Trojans with 30 seconds left. Slovis was twice overwhelmed in the backfield as the comeback attempt came to an end.

Oregon won the game, 31-24, and the Pac-12 title was theirs.

The takeaway: USC simply made too many mistakes in the biggest game of the year.

Slovis’ three interceptions were unforgivably bad. The first two were terrible throws. The third was a mistake of epic proportions. He wasn’t good enough throughout the game and USC’s offensive scheme didn’t do him any favors.

The Trojans’ decision to leave Kayvon Thibodeaux in one-on-one blocking situations so often was an all-time gaff. He finished with two tackles for loss, including a sack, a pass break up and constant pressure on the quarterback.

USC’s run game wasn’t good enough against a weak Oregon run defense. The wide receivers made huge plays, but also dropped too many passes and committed too many penalties.

Discipline as a whole was a problem as the Trojans were flagged nine times for 98 yards.

The defense committed their fair share of those, including huge mistakes by some of the best players on the field. Talanoa Hufanga was a monster all night, but his roughing the kicker penalty was killer.

Thus, USC’s penchant for playing with fire by falling behind and erasing deficits late burned them in the end.

Player of the game: Kayvon Thibodeaux, who harrassed Kedon Slovis all night and unsettled USC’s offense.

Stat of the game: Slovis completed just 53.8 percent of his passes, the lowest mark of his career.

Next on tap: USC will await a bowl opponent on Sunday.

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