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Top 10 moments, No. 10: Woods' catch at Oregon

11/29/2011

Over the next two weeks, we'll be releasing our list of the top 10 moments of the 2011 USC football season -- one moment per day, each weekday. Our lists of the top 10 players of the season and the five biggest questions facing the Trojans in 2012 will follow.

We have judged our moments on three primary criteria: (1) overall impact on the season and the future, (2) impact on the game in which it occurred and (3) entertainment value. Here, then is moment No. 10:

The 10th-best moment of the Trojans' 2011 season was Robert Woods' four-yard touchdown catch from Matt Barkley with 2:27 to go in the second quarter of USC's 38-35 win over the then-No. 4 Oregon Ducks in Eugene.

Why so high for a short pass play that didn't feature an incredible throw or catch and didn't directly decide the outcome of a game? Two reasons.

It clearly demonstrated just how innovative of a play-caller Lane Kiffin can be. Faced with a crucial third-and-goal just before halftime, Kiffin didn't shy away from drawing up something original, putting Woods in motion to the right side with the goal of opening up some space for him. By the time the Ducks realized what he was doing, the ball had been snapped and Barkley's throw was probably halfway in the air to Woods. He caught it comfortably and stepped into the end zone, two Oregon defenders each four steps away from being able to make a play on the ball.

It also fostered by far the best celebratory moment of USC's season. When Woods got to the Trojans' sideline, television cameras caught receiver Brandon Carswell pretending to pour chalk onto Woods' gloved hands, and he proceeded to pull a LeBron James-esque chalk toss as James himself stood on the opposite sideline watching the game as a guest of Nike. Woods tweeted after the game, thanking LeBron for the "permission" to use his trademark move.

It ended up being a key score come the end of the game. Had USC failed to convert and been forced to settle for a field goal, the fourth quarter would likely have been much different -- and the Trojans wouldn't have gone into the locker room with nearly as much momentum at the half.

Woods had several highlight-reel catches this season, including his 82-yard scoring catch-and-run early against Arizona, his 45-yard catch for a touchdown off an unexpected Barkley scramble against Colorado and even his 12-yard grab earlier in the Oregon game. But this one was so subtly good and so important in the Trojans' biggest win of the season, it deserved a spot on this list.

Check back Tuesday for our ninth-best moment of the 2011 season, which happened in the Washington game earlier this month.