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Reliving the Season: USC

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Leaders:

UO | USC

Passing:

Dixon: 157 | Sanchez 277

Rushing:

Stewart 103 | Washington 42

Receiving:

Dickson 69 | Turner 107

It was finally here. We had been gaining noteriety beating up on Fuskies and Cougars, but here was our chance to play with the big boys. SC was coming to town and, for the first time since Joey manned the offense, we had the horses that we EXPECTED to win. It was easily the biggest game in Autzen history up to that point. A win put us atop the leaderboard in the run for the roses, and made us a serious national championship contender. With our team firing on all cylinders, and John David Booty out for the Trojans, we were feeling pretty good. After all, they did lose to Stanford.

All of our optimism was quickly squashed.

Andre Crenshaw promptly fumbled the opening kickoff at the 21, giving USC the ball in prime scoring position. Giving our penchant for blowing big games the last few years, this had all the early makings of a big SC win. But our defense--our glorious, glorious defense, held. And, of fourth and one, Pete Carroll made a rare coaching blunder trying to have Joe McKnight hit the outside on a sweep instead of powering up the middle. McKnight never made it to the line of scrimmage, and the early crisis was averted.

This started a defensive showdown that lasted most of the game. Dixon managed to ride Snoop down the field for a touchdown late in the first quarter, and the teams swapped a pair of field goals in the second, to give the Ducks a 10-3 lead at half. Being is such a low scoring game wasn't exactly a familiar situation, and we surely weren't comfortable, but we did lead on the scoreboard.

That didn't last long.

SC came out firing to start the second half. Patrick Turner had his way with our DBs for three catches and about sixty yards on the drive, and came away with a score. The Ducks couldn't respond, despite a pitch to 305 lb. Geoff Schwartz, and nerves kicked in again. Fortunately, SC this time had the crucial turnover, at their own 16. And JStew quickly cashed in with a 16 yard score. It looked as if Matt Sanchez was going to respond, driving SC down the field, but Matthew Harper picked off a pass at the Oregon 15 with a minute left in the quarter.

We were 15 minutes away from slaying the Trojans.

Our hopes got even higher as Snoop hit paydirt on the first possession of the fourth quarter. Ducks now up two touchdowns, and teams are trading three and outs for much of the next ten minutes.

But you know SC wasn't going easily.

The Sanchez hooks up with David Ausberry with 5:25 to go and, after holding Oregon to another three and out, SC starts driving again. I'm really showing off my impressive vocabulary of four letter words at this point, but to no avail. My TV will not respond, and the Trojans keep marching down the field.

Until Matthew Harper goes all Kenny Wheaton on us and ends everything. Autzen explodes, Ducks beat SC for the first time since '01, and Dave slowly lowers his heart rate to life sustaining numbers. Our offense wasn't great, but for our defense to step up with their best performance of the year. To force three turnovers and hold Tailback U to barely over 100 rushing yards won the game on a day where SC was the only defense that we faced with the speed to go toe to toe with our offense.

2/3 of the season complete. 7-1, with really only one test to go. If we beat ASU, we KNEW that we'd be playing in New Orleans. After all, UCLA, Arizona, and OSewe were no match for Mr. Dixon.

It was shaping up to be Oregon's best season in program history.

GO DUCKS!!!

--Dave (addictedtoquack@gmail.com)