Oregon outguns USC in a 62-51 win

By Isaac Rosenthal

Oregon outguns USC in a 62-51 win

LOS ANGELES — Two years ago, Chip Kelly famously said “I’m not into making statements, I’m into winning games.” Tonight, his fourth-ranked Oregon Ducks did both, handing USC their third loss of the season and improving to 9-0 for the second time in four years.

Oregon took down USC 62-51, scoring more points and gaining more yards than any Trojan opponent ever behind a record-setting night from Kenjon Barner and a career outing from redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota. Barner set a new Oregon record with 321 yards on the ground and five touchdowns while Mariota passed for more than 300 yards on 20/23 passing.

But as good as the Ducks were offensively, USC matched the Ducks almost punch for punch. Matt Barkley threw for 484 yards, Silas Redd added 92 yards on the ground and Marqise Lee had 408 all-purpose yards. The two teams combined for 1,345 total yards of offense and neither punter saw action until the fourth quarter.

“You watch (Marquise) Lee and (Robert) Woods,” Chip Kelly said. “With how accurate Matt (Barkley) was throwing, it was going to be one of those games where we had to continue to answer offensively. Those three guys are three all-time greats. You look at what Matt’s done in his career here, the all-time touchdown guy in this league and for a quarterback in this league that’s pretty special. I can’t say enough about Marquise Lee, he’s impressive on film but he’s even more impressive when you see him in person.

Oregon struck first, and quickly, driving 75 yards in 1:05 on their first possession, and USC responded with three points on their first trip down the field. The Ducks again drove 75 yards on their next possession and went up 14-3 by the end of the first quarter. From the second quarter on, however, the teams matched each other blow for blow.

“We felt like if we could hold serve, that was a big deal for us,” Kelly said. “If they answered, then we answered.”

 Turning Point. With Oregon leading 14-3 and USC marching down the field Ifo Ekpre-Olomu made a diving interception in the back of the endzone. From the second quarter on, the teams each scored 48 points, but the Ducks’ 11-point lead after 15 minutes of play — cemented by Ekpre-Olomu’s interception — proved to be the difference. USC would pull within three points on two occasions in the second half but could never put together a score and a defensive stop on consecutive drives.
“You can’t play someone expecting to score every time,” USC head coach Lane Kiffin said. “There’s a couple plays that could change the game.”
Kiffin said he was for the most part pleased with USC’s offensive effort, but he pointed to three drives which could have changed the outcome of the game.
“We kicked a field goal early,” Kiffin said. “No points on (Ekpre-Olomu’s) interception, and the fumble in the red zone — that makes a big difference.”
On the horizon. The Ducks take to the road again next week to take on a struggling California team that has lost three straight games and eliminated themselves from bowl consideration with a 21-13 loss to Washington this week. The Ducks then return to Autzen Stadium to play Stanford in their final home game of the regular season before traveling to Corvallis to end the year with a Civil War showdown with Oregon State.

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