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(Saturday, November 19th)
Final Score: (18) Southern California 38, (4) Oregon 35
Eugene, OR (Sports Network) - You can add Oregon to the list of teams whose national championship hopes have been dashed after No. 18 Southern California escaped with a 38-35 win over the fourth-ranked Ducks.
Oregon battled back from a 38-14 deficit and was looking to force overtime, but Alejandro Maldonado missed a 37-yard field goal as time expired.
Coming off last week's impressive victory against previously-undefeated Stanford on the road, Oregon wasted an opportunity to secure the Pac-12 North Division title. Despite their first loss since the season-opener to LSU, the Ducks (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) can still clinch the division with a win over Oregon State in next week's regular-season finale.
Matt Barkley threw four touchdown passes and his last one -- a five-yarder to Randall Telfer -- gave the Trojans (9-2, 6-2) a seemingly comfortable 24-point lead with 3:28 remaining in the third quarter.
"We didn't finish off our drives in the second half. That's why it became so close," said USC head coach Lane Kiffin.
De'Anthony Thomas ignited the Oregon comeback by returning the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. But the Ducks' deficit remained 38-20 heading into the fourth quarter after a failed two-point conversion.
Kenjon Barner ran for two touchdowns, including an eight-yard score that made it 38-27. Barkley was then picked off and Oregon converted the interception into a one-yard TD run by LaMichael James with 7:05 to play. Darron Thomas found Lavasier Tuinei in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion.
USC then committed another turnover as Marc Tyler fumbled the ball away deep in Oregon territory. Beginning with 2:31 showing on the clock, the Ducks marched down the field, but Maldonado's kick, which was brought five yards closer because of an offsides penalty, sailed wide left.
"You can't make the mistakes we made, especially against a good football team," said Oregon head coach Chip Kelly.
Oregon had won 21 straight home games, the longest active streak in the nation. The loss also snapped the Ducks' 19-game conference winning streak.
It was a defensive battle early in the contest, as the teams combined for four punts and traded fumbles on consecutive plays.
USC started its fourth drive from its own 41-yard line and Barkley opened the scoring when he hit Marqise Lee for a touchdown on first down.
After the Ducks turned the ball over on downs at the USC 33, Barkley converted a long third down with a 14-yard toss to Lee. The drive bled into the second quarter and, on the first play of the frame from the Oregon 12, Robert Woods hauled in a pass on a fade route in the right corner of the end zone.
Darron Thomas put Oregon on the board with a 29-yard scoring strike to De'Anthony Thomas, but USC quickly countered when Woods caught his second TD pass on 3rd-and-goal from the four.
The Ducks were looking to trim their deficit before halftime, driving deep into USC territory. However, the opportunity was thwarted when James fumbled the ball away at the nine-yard line.
The Trojans defense forced the Ducks to go three-and-out to open the second half and T.J. McDonald blocked the punt, setting up Andre Heidari's 26-yard field goal that extended USC's lead to 24-7.
Thomas returned the ensuing kickoff 39 yards to the USC 43, and Barner capped the four-play drive with a nine-yard TD run. But it took the Trojans just five plays to move 76 yards on their next possession, with Tyler running for a score of three yards.
The Trojans lead the Pac-12 South Division but are ineligible to compete in the conference title game because of NCAA sanctions...Barkley completed 26- of-34 passes for 323 yards...Curtis McNeal paced USC's running attack with 94 yards on 20 carries...Lee had 187 yards on eight receptions...Darron Thomas finished with 265 yards while completing 23-of-35 pass attempts...Barner gained 123 yards on 15 carries, while James rushed for 78 yards.
11/20 02:08:21 ET