No. 18 USC upsets No. 4 Oregon 38-35
Long after USC derailed Oregon's hopes for a second-straight berth in BCS championship game, Ducks coach Chip Kelly headed for the Trojans' locker room.
He waited outside while the USC players celebrated, until Trojans defensive coordinator coach Monte Kiffin stepped out to greet him.
The two shared words, and Kelly congratulated Kiffin with a hug.
Congratulations were in order.
Matt Barkley threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns and No. 18 USC held off No. 4 Oregon 38-35 on Saturday night when Alejandro Maldonado missed a 37-yard field goal to tie the game with five seconds left.
The loss snapped a 21-game winning streak for the Ducks (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) at Autzen Stadium, which was the longest in the nation. It also stopped Oregon's winning streak in conference games at 19.
The Ducks were also poised to move up in the BCS standings after No. 2 Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State 37-31 on Friday night. The Ducks had jumped to fourth in those rankings after a decisive 53-30 victory over then-No. 3 Stanford last week.
''I don't know how to explain how we feel right now. This hurts.'' receiver Josh Huff said. ''We have to come back Monday and get back to work. We just thought we were going to come in and run over them, but they came out hard and we lost.''
Trailing 24-7 in the third quarter, Oregon mounted a comeback and narrowed it to 38-35 with 7:05 left in the fourth quarter on LaMichael James' 1-yard touchdown run.
Barkley led his team to the Oregon 15, but Marc Tyler fumbled and the ball was recovered by the Ducks with 2:54 to go.
Oregon marched down the field but Maldondado's kick, which was brought five yards closer because of a USC penalty, went wide left.
Robert Woods, who was held out of some practices this week with ankle and shoulder injuries, caught seven passes for 53 yards and two scores.
With the victory, USC (9-2, 6-2) also kept the Ducks from clinching a spot in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game.
The Ducks face Oregon State next weekend in the Civil War. The Beavers (3-8, 3-5 Pac-12) beat Washington 38-21 on Saturday.
The Trojans cannot go to the postseason because of NCAA sanctions.
''We got close, we just couldn't finish it,'' Kelly said.
Against USC, they were playing catch up from the start.
The Trojans scored first on Barkley's 59-yard touchdown pass to Marqise Lee in the first quarter, then added Barkley's 12-yard scoring pass to Woods early in the second to go up 14-0.
The Ducks didn't' look like themselves until an efficient scoring drive midway through the second quarter. Darron Thomas hit true freshman Colt Lyerla with a 35-yard pass before striking fellow frosh De'Anthony Thomas with a 29-yarder for the touchdown. The seven-play drive covered 88 yards in just 2:15.
But USC answered with Barkley's 4-yard touchdown pass to Woods. The TD, Barkley's 73rd, moved him past Carson Palmer for second on Southern California's career touchdown list. Matt Leinart had 99 for the Trojans.
The Ducks had a chance to narrow it before the half, but De'Anthony Thomas was out of bounds when he pulled down a Darron Thomas pass to the end zone. On the next play, James fumbled and the ball was recovered by USC.
James, who dislocated his elbow earlier in the season and missed two games, was hit in the arm on the play, and was holding the elbow as he was helped up by trainers.
The Trojans opened the second half with Andre Heidari's 26-yard field goal to make it 24-7, but Oregon again showed a flash of its usual speedy offense with a quick drive capped by Kenjon Barner's 10-yard touchdown run.
The Ducks, known for their second half adjustments, couldn't slow USC's momentum and the Trojans scored on the subsequent series with Marc Tyler's 3-yard run. Barkley added a 5-yard scoring pass to Randall Telfer to make it 38-14.
De'Anthony Thomas narrowed it again for the Ducks with a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and the Autzen Stadium crowd got back into the game with 3:28 left in the third quarter.
Barner had an 8-yard touchdown run to close the Ducks to within 38-27 with 12:44 left in the game. The Trojans ate a lot of time up with their next series, but Barkley was intercepted by John Boyett, putting the Ducks in business on their own 40. Oregon scored on James' 1-yard run, and the 2-point conversion was ruled good after review to make it 38-35.
Darron Thomas threw for 265 yards and a touchdown for the Ducks. Barner ran for 123 yards and two scores. James finished with 78 yards rushing.
''We lost a game,'' James said. ''Life goes on.''