Updated 1:20 am
Tonight the #6 Oregon Ducks hosted the USC Trojans in their last match as members of the Pac-12, in front of a sold out crowd of 59,957.
Although tonight’s game perhaps lost a bit of its luster, with USC having lost three of their last four contests and dropping out of the top 25, this was still a much anticipated matchup between two elite Pac-12 programs that will be facing off in the B1G starting next season.
The Trojans won the coin toss and elected to receive. Caleb Williams and the Trojans offense had a difficult couple of downs, but were gifted a first down by a Ducks facemask penalty. USC pulled out a trick play, with Williams passing a screen pass to Mario Williams, who then passed it back to Caleb Williams for a 15 yard run and a first down. The Trojans stalled and were forced to punt after a third down sack.
The Ducks got the ball on their 17 and went right to work. After a Bucky Irving run, Bo Nix connected on a 77 yard TD pass to none other than Tez Johnson, who busted a couple of beautiful moves and outran the Trojan defenders.
On USC’s next possession, Caleb Williams did some of his scrambling majic on a couple of plays and was able to make Oregon pay for not containing him. One scramble turned into a 44 yard pass and the other scramble saw Williams avoid a sack and scramble for the first down at the Oregon 5 yard line, where MarShawn Lloyd ran it in for a score to tie the game, 7-7.
Starting on their 19, the Ducks found themselves in a pinch when Irving was tossed for an 8 yard loss. Nix couldn’t find a receiver and kept the ball for a 5 yard run, then connected on another explosive 84 yard pass play to Troy Franklin. The two-point conversion was not successful and Oregon was on top 13-7.
On the Trojans’ following drive, they picked up a first down but killed their momentum with a holding penalty and punted. An unnecessary roughness USC penalty put the ball on Oregon’s 25 yard line to start their next drive.
The Ducks began to pound the ball, with Bucky Irving running a cumulative 52 yards in Oregon’s 15-play, 75 yard drive. On 2nd and goal, Bo Nix tossed a TD pass to Terrance Ferguson. The Ducks attempted another 2-point conversion, which failed.
USC started their next drive on their own 9 yard line. The Trojans were able to drive to midfield, but Oregon was getting consistent pressure on Caleb Williams, and USC punted, pinning the Ducks on their own 1 yard line.
Oregon got out of trouble on their own side of the field with a pass to Ferguson on 3rd down on the 2 yard line, and then an Irving run for another first down. Box Nix connected to Troy Franklin for 63 yards that put the Ducks on the Trojans 15 yard line. Oregon then hurt themselves with penalties and had to settle for a Camden Lewis 33 yard field goal, and the Ducks were up 22-7.
With 1:59 to go to halftime, the Ducks gave up a 59 yard pass that led to Williams rushing untouched for the USC TD, making the score 22-14 at the half.
The first half felt somewhat disappointing in that it felt like Oregon left some points on the field that they should have capitalized on.
Bo Nix was 8-12 for 262 yards and three TDs. Oregon only put up 68 yards of rushing in the first half, led by Bucky Irving with 53 yards on 9 carries. The Ducks’ receiving leader was Troy Franklin, who had 147 yards in two receptions.
USC ended the half with Caleb Williams going 11-18 for 159 yards. The Trojans had only 31 rushing yards in the first half.
Oregon took the ball first in the second half, and drove the field after incurring a couple of penalties. The Ducks mixed run and pass plays, with Bo Nix capping the drive with a 21 yard TD pass to Tez Johnson. Oregon was up 29-14.
USC took the ball on their own 14, and only managed to reach their own 33 yard line. An attempt to go for it on 4th and 3 was torpedoed by a delay of game penalty, and the Trojans punted.
Oregon could not generate anything on their next drive, and a rare 3-and-out saw the Ducks punt, with the Trojans starting their next drive on their 25 yard line.
Three plays into the drive, USC fumbled on a handoff and Evan Williams recovered. The Ducks took over on the Trojan 48 yard line. Oregon drove to the USC 30 yard line with a Bucky Irving 11 yard run to end the third quarter.
Irving then opened up the 4th quarter with a fantastic 19 yard touchdown run.
That put Oregon ahead by the score of 36-14.
On their next drive, USC drove to the Oregon 9 yard line after a questionable pass interference call and blown Oregon coverage resulting in a 40 yard toss from Caleb Williams to Duce Robinson. On fourth down and goal, Williams pitched a pass to Brenden Rice for the touchdown, making the score 36-21 after the extra point.
Oregon took over with 11:27 on the clock at their 25 yard line. The Ducks were able to run 5:00 off the clock, but miscues including penalties and a fumble that they recovered caused the Ducks to attempt a FG, and Camden Lewis missed the 41 yard kick.
USC then made the defense look perfectly pedestrian, and had far too easy a time driving for their next touchdown. An unsuccessful 2-point conversion made the score an uncomfortable 36-27 with 3:44 remaining in the game.
The Ducks were able to use ball control to run down the clock, and after a driving to the USC 31, Oregon was faced with 4th and seven on the Trojans 31. Nix was able to connect on a 10 yard pass to Irving for the first down, leaving the Trojans no options as they were out of timeouts. Oregon took a knee to end the game 36-27.
USC finished the game with 379 yards total. Caleb Williams was 19-34 for 291 yards and one TD. Williams also ran for another touchdown. The Trojans ran for 79 yards, led by MarShawn Lloyd with 37 yards on nine carries. Brendan Rice led the USC receivers with 5 catches for 81 yards and one touchdown.
Oregon finished with 552 total yards. Bo Nix was 23-31 for 412 yards and 4 TDs, and certainly had a Heisman-worthy performance.
The Ducks ran the ball for 140 yards, led by a courageous performance by Bucky Irving’s 11 yards on 19 carries with one touchdown.
Both Tez Johnson and Troy Franklin had standout nights. Johnson had 7 catches for 126 yards and two TDs. Franklin ended with two catches for 147 yards and one touchdown.
Oregon’s defense pressured the USC offense all game, with five tackles for loss, four hurries of Williams and three sacks.
A troubling sign was the return to too many Oregon penalties. Even as one could question a few of them, Oregon’s 13 penalties for 120 yards is still too many.
When all is said and done, a win is a win and the Oregon Ducks are still in the hunt for a possible CFP spot. Take care of one game at a time - and win - and the rest will take care of itself.
Here are some player interviews, courtesy of Matt Prehm of Duck Territory: