Pac-12: Ducks-Trojans-110312

Video: Oregon LB Michael Clay

November, 4, 2012
11/04/12
9:00
AM ET

Oregon linebacker Michael Clay talks about the Ducks defense and his offensive teammates after the 62-51 win over USC.
LOS ANGELES -- Hi. I'm the computer component of the BCS standings and, well, I'd like to apologize to Oregon.

There are six of us -- by us, I mean, six computer formulas used to help determine the BCS standings -- and we haven't exactly been quacking up the Ducks. Truth is, we weren't buying what Oregon was selling.

Two of us have calculated Oregon as the fourth-best team in the country. And we were giving the Ducks the benefit of the doubt.

Three of us have Oregon rated fifth and one of us -- I'm not going to say who (yeah, I will: Jeff Sagarin) -- has the Ducks eighth. That gives them a computer average of No. 5 and an overall No. 4 BCS ranking.

And then they played USC on Saturday night in the Coliseum.

I'm good at numbers, but I don't even know where to start after watching this Ducks-Trojans game. Neither did the press box stat crew. When asked if there were postgame notes, an official said, "They're typing them up right now. There are so many records, it's taking them a long time."

OK, let's start with something simple, such as the score: Oregon 62, USC 51. You read that right: USC scored 51 points at home … and lost.

For Gene Wojciechowski's full column, click here.


LOS ANGELES -- Oregon turned in a singular, historic offensive performance against USC in the Ducks' 62-51 victory on Saturday in front of 93,607 fans in the Coliseum. No team has ever gained 730 yards or scored 62 points on the Trojans.

That's in 120 years of football. Heck, it's 107 yards more than Notre Dame piled up in 1946 in setting the mark that lasted 66 years.

The man at the center of this Ducks feeding frenzy is an unassuming guy who just earned his emphatic "hello world" moment: Running back Kenjon Barner. And by "hello world," we mean, "Here's your ticket to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony."

Said one observer, "I think that he's the best player -- that's singular, not plural. I think he deserves the Heisman. He should be right up there with everyone else. He's been doing it day in and day out. If they weren't beating people so bad, he'd probably have 2,000 yards right now. He's great."

That observer would be LaMichael James, a former Ducks running back and Heisman finalist himself, and he was reacting to Barner shattering James' team single-game rushing record of 288 yards, set last year against Arizona. Shattering? Barner rushed for 321 yards and five touchdowns against a Trojans' run defense that entered the game ranked 29th in the country, giving up 123 yards per game. That defense gave up just six rushing touchdowns in its previous eight games.

Barner and James, now with the San Francisco 49ers, just happen to be best buddies who talk frequently.

"I'm happy that he broke that record," James said. "Anytime your best friend can break your record, it means more. It's like, 'Man, my record got broken. But Kenjon broke it, so it's OK.'"

Barner entered the game ranked 10th in the nation in rushing. He now has 1,295 yards on the ground, and his 143.88 yards per game would have ranked second last week. He now averages 7.23 yards per carry and has scored 19 touchdowns, numbers that will rank among the very best in the nation this week.

With a potential injury to Collin Klein, Kansas State's multi-talented field general, it's possible Barner could even become a threat for the Heisman front-runner position.

Barner, who also caught two passes for 26 yards, including a 12-yard reception that converted a key third down in the fourth quarter, would hardly rate as euphoric after the game. He didn't seem too surprised with the way his and the Ducks offense's evening went.

"I've said it before and I'll keep saying it. People doubt, I don't," he said. "I know what I'm capable of. I know what this team is capable of."

Barner had 169 yards at halftime and 250 yards entering the fourth quarter. Of his 38 carries, he lost yardage on only one.

And, yes, he'd like to get Heisman consideration.

"It would absolutely be meaningful," he said. "Who doesn't want to get invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony?"

Barner's touchdown runs covered 27, 5, 9, 5 and 22 yards. He sliced the Trojans from the outside and diced them inside. The 5-foot-11, 192-pound senior simply couldn't be stopped.

"He's a warrior -- he's had an unbelievable impact on our team," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "He's the one leader of [the offense] and he's really embraced that role and our guys follow him. Not only does he talk about it, but he lives it. It's the same way in practice.'

And Barner is a true believer in the Tao of Chip Kelly. Ask him about big-picture questions, the kind of query that Kelly knocks away with a smirk, and he doesn't even sniff the bait.

Such as: Did he and the Ducks make a statement by running all over the Trojans?

"There is no statement to be made," he said. "We just come out and play football. If you come out playing with a mindset of your having to make a statement, you're not focused on the task at hand."

At 9-0, and on the cusp of moving up in the BCS standings, Oregon again looks like a national title contender. While Barner won't look past the next weekend, or attempt to sell his team to national pollsters and pundits, he will make clear what he thinks of the 2012 Ducks.

Said Barner, "I feel like we're the best team in the country on any night."

Maybe. It's becoming increasingly clear that the Ducks might be -- again -- the best offensive team in the country. And that Barner may be the best offensive player.

Video: Oregon RB Kenjon Barner

November, 4, 2012
11/04/12
12:15
AM ET


Oregon running back Kenjon Barner talks about his 321 yards rushing in the Ducks' 62-51 victory over USC.

Instant analysis: Oregon 62, USC 51

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
10:52
PM ET

The Oregon-USC matchup lived up to all of the hype and more. In what will go down as a classic Pac-12 shootout, the No. 4 Ducks survived a motivated and offensively potent USC squad 62-51 in Los Angeles. Here's how it went down:

It was over when: USC failed to convert on a fourth-and-5 deep in its own territory with 3 minutes left in the game. On the ensuing Oregon drive, running back Kenjon Barner went 22 yards for his fifth rushing touchdown of the game.

Oregon game ball goes to: Barner justified his Heisman hype with an explosive performance, rushing for 321 yards and five touchdowns on 38 carries. It was an Oregon single-game rushing record.

USC game ball goes to: There should no longer be a question of who is the best wide receiver in the Pac-12 -- or the country for that matter. It’s Marqise Lee, who had 157 yards on 12 catches with two touchdowns and 408 all-purpose yards.

Stat of the game: 1,345. Total offensive yards combined between the teams.

Stat of the game II: 2. The total number of punts.

Unsung hero: After missing time with a bad wrist, Oregon linebacker Kiko Alonso had nine tackles (two for a loss) and an interception.

What it means for Oregon: For starters, legitimacy. For all those waiting to see if Oregon could do it against a quality opponent on the road, those questions were answered. The defense gave up a lot of yards and points -- not exactly surprising, though, considering the opponent. But the offense ran up 730 yards of offense -- the most ever by a USC opponent. And I think we can put all the talk about Marcus Mariota being young and overwhelmed by the moment behind us. He was 20-of-23 for 304 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

What it means for USC: With a third conference loss, the Trojans aren't out of the Pac-12 South hunt yet, but they are at the mercy of Arizona -- at least for now -- which holds the tiebreaker over them following last week's 39-36 Wildcats victory. Should USC win the South, it'll probably get another crack at the Ducks for a chance to go to the Rose Bowl. This might also be the dagger in Matt Barkley's Heisman hopes.

Halftime: Oregon 34, USC 24

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
8:50
PM ET
LOS ANGELES -- It was a first half full of offensive frenzy and turnovers, but Oregon and USC head into the locker room with the Trojans within striking distance, trailing 34-24.

USC gets the ball to start the third in a game where you can't waste too many possessions because the defenses are struggling.

The Trojans had three first-half turnovers, including a pair of Matt Barkley interceptions, but Barkley also threw three touchdown passes, including strikes of 75 and 76 yards. He completed 17 of 26 passes for 303 yards.

At 27-10 Oregon early in the second quarter, it looked as if the Ducks might run away with it. They still might. But not yet.

Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 14 of 16 passes for 213 yards with three touchdowns, but he had a fumble late in the second quarter at the USC 15-yard line after he seemed to get shaken up on the preceding play.

Oregon running back Kenjon Barner is headed toward a big night. He has 169 yards and two scores on 16 carries.

It figures that turnovers and precious defensive stops will be the key in the second half.

Video: Oregon-USC pregame

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
6:00
PM ET

ESPN.com's Ted Miller and Gene Wojciechowski preview Oregon's visit to USC.

Will the 'good' USC show up?

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
5:26
PM ET
LOS ANGELES -- In August, the thought was USC-Oregon and LSU-Alabama would give the college football nation an epic Nov. 3 weekend featuring a simultaneous matchup of four unbeaten, top-five teams in college football's two best conferences. It didn't quite work out like that.

Alabama and Oregon held serve, and LSU is fifth in the BCS rankings, the top-ranked one-loss team. But USC has flopped, losing a pair of games and often playing sloppy and inconsistent football.

USC is last in the nation in penalties, and it gave away five turnovers in a loss at Arizona last weekend. That's not what anyone expected from a team that welcomed back 19 starters from a 10-2 team.

"Everybody is really disappointed in Saturday," USC quarterback Matt Barkley said this week. "There were so many times when we could win the game, and we really screwed up time and time again."

And yet, Barkley adds, there is still plenty for the Trojans to play for. While the national title is no longer in play, the Pac-12 title and the Rose Bowl are respectable consolation prizes.

Barkley and the Trojans, if they play smart, efficient football, have the talent to beat the Ducks. Heck, they have the talent to beat anyone.

The question is whether it all comes together this evening.

On the other side of the football, is Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, a redshirt freshman. He's passed every test this season with flying colors, mostly because no team has really tested the Ducks, who have yet to play a game with any second-half intrigue. It's fair to wonder how he might react in front of 94,000 fans in the fourth quarter of a tight game.

After playing a soft early schedule, Oregon hopes to announce itself as a full-on national title contender, the best team to play Alabama or the eventual SEC champion. USC, which dumped the Ducks' national title hopes a year ago, is playing the role of spoiler, trying to position itself for the South Division title.

That would mean a spot in the Pac-12 title game, and perhaps in a rematch against Oregon, with the Rose Bowl on the line.

While this game no longer lusters, it certainly will be revealing. Or unmasking.

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