It was a dominating performance from beginning to end.
In the most anticipated conference game of the season, the No. 4 Oregon Ducks ( 9-0 / 6-0 ) trounced No. 17 USC ( 6-3 / 4-3 ) by a score of 62-51 and most certainly bounced them out of a possible re-match with the Ducks in the conference championship game.
The relatively close score doesn’t truly reflect how dominating Oregon was over the Trojans.
The Ducks dominating performance was led by senior running back Kenjon Barner who had a career night - running through and around the USC defense from the moment the game kicked at LA’s Memorial Coliseum in front of a sold out crowd of 93,607 fans.
The only time Barner was cornered all night was after the game outside of the Oregon locker room when dozens of media members surrounded him during his post game remarks when discussing his record setting night.
Barner rushed for 321 yards on 38 carries and scored 5 touchdowns. Not only was it Barner’s career best at Oregon, he also broke former Duck running back LaMichael James’ single game record of 288 yards and 4 scores which James set last year against Arizona.
“The offense,….we did a great job” said Barner in his post game briefing after the game. “From the offensive line, to the receivers, to the quarterback,…we just did a great job communicating and executing the way we needed to.”
From the outset, the Trojans couldn’t find an answer for Oregon’s blur offense, including Barner.
“It’s mind boggling. I’ve never heard of so many yards” said USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin after the game when asked about the Ducks 730 total yards of offense.
“They’re better than they were last year. O-line’s better. QB is definitely better. Barner is faster” said Kiffin
Oregon’s 730 yards and 62 points were the most ever allowed by USC, which began playing football in 1888.
On their first five offensive possession’s, the Ducks scored five touchdowns.
Three via air attack by Duck quarterback Marcus Mariota and two on the ground from Barner – one a 27 yard run early in the second quarter and the second a 5 yard TD run at the 11:27 mark of the second.
“I’m really proud of our guys and how they didn’t flinch” said Oregon head coach Chip Kelly after the game.
“When you go against one of the all time great quarterbacks in this league and in college football…and when you look at the numbers Matt put up and you look at those two receivers ( Woods and Lee ), they’re great players. We took their best shot,…but we were standing at the end of it like a heavyweight fight and we’re 1 and 0 on Saturday night and that’s all that matters.”
Barkley showed why he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Barkley was 35 of 54 for 484 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Robert Woods and Marquis Lee were as impressive. Lee ended his night with 12 catches for 157 yards and 2 scores, while Woods had 6 catches for 71 yards and 1 score.
In a statement game the Ducks desparately needed to improve their BCS standings, it was Barner who made a statement of his own to national Heisman Trophy voters who may not have been sold on Barner and this Duck team.
On the sideline Saturday evening was LaMichael James, Barner’s former teammate and current member of the San Francisco 49′ers.
Even James was mesmorized by Barner’s performance. “He’s one of the best players in the country” said James after the game near the Ducks locker room.
“I think he’s the best player. I think he deserves the Heisman. That was the best performance I’ve ever seen in my life.”
On a huge stage in front of a hostile crowd, Oregon redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota once again showed his poise, and his talent.
Mariota was flawless and was in complete command of the Ducks offense. Mariota threw four touchdown passes and was 20 of 23 for 321 yards. On the season, Mariota has now thrown 22 touchdown aerials and clearly improved his completion percentage.
“He’s a champ” said Barner after the game. ”
“He continues to prove me right. He’s extremely bright and the sky’s the limit for him.”
Not rattled and always one to share the spotlight, Mariota reflected on the teams win. “SC has a great team” said Mariota in his post game comments.
“I’m just proud of the guys in our locker room and how they played.”
Oregon head coach Chip Kelly was equally impressed with Mariota’s performance. “When we needed big plays, Marcus had them,” Kelly said. “He’s a great decision maker.”
When asked about controlling his composure in such a significant game, Mariota told reporters it was because of his teammates. “I have all the confidence in the world with the guys around me” Mariota explained.
“They make me feel comfortable. I just rely on them and they rely on me so it’s a good team effort.”
The Trojans’ defense simply couldn’t keep up with Oregon’s hyper-speed pace and flawless execution. Oregon took a 21-3 lead 12 seconds into the second quarter, but Barkley threw TD passes of 75 yards to Lee and 76 yards to Nelson Agholor in the second quarter.
Robert Woods also caught a scoring pass. The Trojans twice pulled within three points in the second half, but Barner was formidible on almost every drive.
“Everybody was questioning whether we could handle a fourth quarter challenge” said Barner.
“I think we did pretty well tonight.”