Look, I know we’re all terrified of playing in the Coliseum. After all, it’s been a DECADE since the Ducks have won down there and SC is “the Most Talented Team in the League ™” So, get out your PANIC button, beseech Juju for favors, and ready your OMG! OH NOES! .gifs because this game is going to be arrhythmia-inducing.
There are two simple keys to this game:
1. Turnover Margin—if the Ducks are plus or even in this category, Oregon wins by double digits. If the Ducks are minus one or two, it’s going to be embolisms for everyone as the game comes down to the last second. We won’t even speak about what would happen if we turn over the ball more than that.
2. Offensive efficiency early in the game—if Oregon can consistently get first downs and not go three-and-out repeatedly, our pace will wear out USC quickly and we will take control of the game late in the second quarter.
USC receives the opening kick. Thanks to a missed tackle, Bradford breaks a run inside the 30, stopped only by a TD-saving tackle from Eddie Pleasant. The Ducks hold and force a FG. Oregon goes three-and-out. USC’s second drive looks entirely too easy as they march down the field, rolling 6+ minutes off the clock before punching it in. Fight On! plays repeatedly for the next five minutes and Brent Musberger starts verbally humping Barkley’s leg, not even bothering to conceal the obvious homoeroticism that the young QB has inspired in him. On the ensuing drive, Oregon gets a few first downs, but then fumbles the ball away. (OMG! PANIC!) SC drives again, but is forced to settle for a FG. The USC band gets some oxygen before playing Fight On! all the way through the quarter…just because. Oregon drives, but fails to punch it in and also settles for a FG. USC 13, Oregon 3
On the following SC possession, a receiver breaks free on a coverage mistake and scores on a long play. Musberger has to cover himself when ESPN cuts to a shot of the booth. (FLASHBACK TO STANFORD GAME! Several ATQ members pass out from lack of oxygen) DT and company come roaring back to answer in less than 90 seconds. Musberger stops talking about Barkley’s physique long enough to mention the score. Meanwhile, the Trojans get a first down. But then Barkley tests Cliff Harris one too many times, and he picks one off deep in Duck territory. (Matt Daddy’s keyboard fails from typing CLIFF HARRIS!!! too hard) Oregon starts driving again, but due to six different Trojans getting “cramps” after every play, stalls inside the 35 This sets up a fourth and 5 that gets stopped just short. USC 20, Oregon 10. The ATQ first half game thread crashes the internet due to the overwhelming influx of PANIC.
ESPN announcers talk about how the extra week USC had to prepare for Oregon’s “gimmicky” offense really paid off and how USC’s defense has really improved under Monte Kiffin and how Lane Kiffin who, despite looking and acting like a complete douche, really has his kids playing inspired football. Then they talk about the halcyon Glory Days of USC football and how the Trojans have owned the Ducks in the overall series, and how soon SC will return to Glory Days just as soon as they can get past this whole sanction mess. And, ohyeahbytheway, the score is still close, so you should stay tuned and watch the commercials—you know, just in case.
Ducks get the ball to open the half and score in 6 plays, using up all of 75 seconds in the process. Confused by the speed of Oregon’s offense and a lack of oxygen in their brains, the USC band strikes up a fifteen-minute rendition of Fight On! Meanwhile, the Trojans, led by Barkley, drive down the field and push the lead back to 10. Musberger leaves the announcer’s booth to try and cuddle his precious “Matty B” on the sideline, and ends up getting arrested, leaving a befuddled Herbie to call the game by himself. On the first play of the Ducks’ drive, LMJ
gets tossed for a three yard loss breaks free for a 76 yard td run, slicing though the SC secondary like a tornado in a Oklahoma trailer park.
USC falters on its next possession and is forced to punt, setting up the following by Jerry Allen: “Kenjon Barner, back to return the punt. The punt is high and long, angled to the corner of the endzone. The ball is GOING TO BE RETURNED! KENJON BARNER HAS THE BALL! TO THE 40, THE 35. KENJON BARNER IS GOING TO SCORE! KENJON BARNER IS GOING TO SCORE! TOUCHDOWN! THE MOST PROBABLE FINISH TO ANY PUNT RETURN VERSUS THE SC SPECIAL TEAMS!” Oregon 31, SC 27
USC goes three-and-out against the liability that is the Oregon defense. After LMJ rips off four straight runs, and four more USC players leave the game for one play with injuries, Jeff Maehl gets behind the SC secondary and scores. USC moves the ball again, but fails on a fourth down try, again failing to exploit a defense that hasn’t stopped anyone all year. Chip Kelly thinks for just a second about burning clock on this drive, but remembered that Lane Kiffin was on the other sideline and instead the Ducks go 65 yards in three plays and 37 seconds. Barkley leads the Trojans inside the Red Zone, but Casey Matthews pulls down a pass attempt over the middle and gets tackled inside the endzone. After twelve straight run plays, the Ducks run out the game clock. Final score: Oregon 45, USC 27.