For the 2nd game in a row, Matt Barkley threw for more yards than any USC quarterback before him ever registered in a single game. And for the second week in a row, Matt Barkley lost.
Barkley’s incredible 35-54 for 484 yards and 5 touchdowns against Oregon’s superb defense was one of the most impressive performances by any Pac-12 quarterback ever. But in this battle of two of the great offensive football teams ever assembled, Barkley was far from the standout player, and may not have even been the game’s most impressive quarterback.
The incomparable Oregon Ducks (who leave anyone trying to describe them sounding like the announcer for the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band) came into the toughest stadium in the Pac this side of Autzen and absolutely shredded USC’s star-studded defense.
Lane Kiffin said on Monday that USC didn’t want to take the strategy of trying to slow the game down to beat Oregon, noting that, “Teams that do that end up not scoring themselves. If we focus on slowing the game down when we have the ball, we probably lose 40-14.”
It was a strategy based on sound reasoning. Oregon scores lightning fast, and doesn’t care if its offense spends most of the game resting.
Chip Kelly took over as Oregon HC in 2009. In his first three seasons Oregon never finished higher than 2nd to last in the Pac in Time of Possession. During that stretch, Oregon averaged 43 points per game, had a record of 34-6, and made two Rose Bowls and a BCS Championship Game.
Kiffin’s idea was to unleash his incredible talent and show Oregon that there’s not just one big gun in the Pac. The result was arguably the two best offenses to ever face each other in a college football game, totally unleashed, and creating a scoring summary that reads like an entire season for a lot of teams in the Big 10.
It was a record setting day of 16 Touchdowns, 113 points and an incredible 1345 yards of offense. Oregon’s 61 points was the most ever scored against USC. And the previous record (Stanford in 2011) of 56 included 22 points scored in three overtimes. The Trojans also scored more points than they ever had in a defeat (51) breaking the record of 48 – also set last season against Stanford- 14 of which were scored after regulation time ended.
And remember Barkley’s eye-popping day that surpassed all other USC quarterbacks? His counterpart, freshman Marcus Mariota, had a passer rating of 255, nearly 100 points higher than Barkley’s mark for the day, and most importantly, did not throw an interception. On the other hand, Barkley, an experienced senior playing at home, threw 2 INTs leading directly to USC’s -2 turnover margin. In a game where each team scores more than 50 points and punts exactly once, turnovers are the difference.
Freshman QBs aren’t supposed to play near flawless in monster games with 93,607 going berserk at the Coliseum. All Mariota did was pass for 300 yards, and 4 touchdowns with an 87% completion rate (20/23). Mariota also rushed for 96 yards, averaging 6.4 per carry. Yikes. Even USC fans who support Obama are terrified when they hear “Four more years” this week.
Oregon’s path to the Championship Game isn’t totally paved yet. They still have to play a very good Stanford team, and this year’s Civil War is in Corvallis, but all season, everyone has looked at Oregon’s rapid fire wins and wondered two things: Can they win a big game when their Freshman QB needs to throw? And, can they sustain the fight for 4 quarters?
The answer to both is a big “Yes”, and Nick Saban is so scared, he’s campaigning to make their offense illegal. Oregon’s chances of winning the National Championship look better than ever.
Ahh, how the tables have turned. Last week we celebrated Arizona’s dramatic upset of USC and pointed out that if Oregon could hand USC a third loss on Saturday afternoon, the Arizona Wildcats would go into their game at UCLA on Saturday night controlling their own destiny.
Oregon indeed beat the Trojans and put the Wildcats’ paws directly on the steering wheel of their season. The Cats took that newfound control and immediately drove their chances at their first ever Rose Bowl off of the nearest cliff.
Arizona kicked off to UCLA to start the game and allowed a 9 play 75 yard scoring drive that took the Bruins all of two and a half minutes.
The Wildcats’ ensuing possession was a 3 and out that included 8 yards of offense and 17 yards of penalties. It ended with a punt that traveled only 18 yards before landing out of bounds at the Arizona 34. 1:34 later, it was 14-0 and UA was about to go 3 and out yet again.
By the time Arizona finally registered a 1st down, it was 21-0 Bruins and the game was over. UCLA lead 42-3 at half and the only interesting thing left to do was give Jonathan Franklin the game ball for becoming UCLA’s all-time leading rusher.
Arizona is now 2-4 in the Pac and has everyone wondering how they managed to beat USC and climb into the top 25. The Wildcats are a schizophrenic team. Still in the top 10 nationally in total offense (even though it appeared that no one on the UA team was aware they had a game on Saturday), but #108 in scoring defense.
Rich-Rod’s team only needs one more win to become bowl eligible and with Colorado on the schedule, they’re almost sure to get it. But obviously, the rebuilding project in the Sonoran still has a long way to go.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
The quarterback play alone in the Oregon @ USC game was enough to make for a spectacular day of offense, but we haven’t even discussed the two greatest playmakers yet. Marquise Lee launched himself into the Heisman discussion with his record-shattering day last week and followed it up with another huge day. Lee had 408 all-purpose yards (largely because Oregon refused to stop kicking off to him) and a pair of TDs.
But the brightest Star of the day wasn’t Lee or even the flashy DeAnthony Thomas. It was Oregon’s spectacular tailback Kenjon Barner who has been inexplicably absent from Heisman talk all-season long.
Barner was Oregon’s workhorse, and big play threat in one incredible package that has quite simply unstoppable all season.
If you are writing Barner off as a “system back” you need to look again. Oregon’s senior showed incredible feet on inside runs, burst out of his cuts and astonishing lateral speed that allowed him to get to the edge and turn the corner on USC linebackers all day long. PTR has NEVER seen anyone do that to USC.
Here is Barner’s day on Saturday by the numbers:
38: Number of carries. (One short of the all-time record for a USC opponent, set back in 1986).
8.4: Yards per carry; an insane number for someone who carried 38 times.
321: Rushing yards
33: Yards by which Barner bested Oregon’s All-time single game record (LaMichael James 2011 @ Arizona)
80: Yards by which Barner broke USC’s All-Time single-game individual record for rushing yards allowed to an opponent.
3: The number of significant All-Time, single-game records for USC opponents that Barner Set on Saturday:
Most points: 30 (24 by John Lattner of Notre Dame in 1953)
Most Touchdowns: 5 (4 Lattner, Notre Dame, 1953)
Most Rushing Yards: 321 (Curtis Enis, of Penn State, 1996)
1: The number of times in the storied history of the Coliseum that anyone, Trojan or visitor has rushed for 5 touchdowns.
OVERSHADOWED PLAYER OF THE LAST TWO WEEKS:
Marquise Lee and Kenjon Barner have made Player of the Week pretty tough to crack, but Utah’s Reggie Dunn set a career NCAA record this week with 4 career kick return TDs of over 100 yards. Three of which have come in the last two weeks (2 a week ago vs. Cal and another on Saturday v. WSU).
Dunn is averaging an insane 55.5 yards per return this year, which would lead the NCAA, if only Dunn’s 7 returns were enough to qualify. Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham says that the Utes have long known that Dunn had all the qualities to be a major threat in the return game, except one. He had a very hard time fielding the kicks.
The Utes have had Dunn on the Jugs machine before and after practice all season, helping him learn to judge the ball in the air. The first time they let him return a kick in a game this year was against USC, and Dunn didn’t get more than one return in a game until the Utes played Cal week ago and Dunn had 3 returns for 2 TDs and 222 yards.
On Saturday, WSU only kicked to Dunn once, but he made the most of it, returning it 100 yards for the score. The Utes are heading to Seattle this week for a date with Washington. We’ll see how many times Sarkisian’s crew allows Dunn to touch the ball.