USC vs. Oregon: 5 Things We Learned About the Trojans Win over the Ducks

Bill NCorrespondent INovember 20, 2011

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 19: Running back Curtis McNeal #22 of the USC Trojans celebrates after the Trojans upset the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Eugene, Oregon. USC won the game 38-35. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The No. 18* USC Trojans (9-2) shocked the No. 4* Oregon Ducks (9-2) 38-35 by getting a big enough lead to hold on for victory even with two turnovers in the last eight minutes as most of the 59,933 fans watched in disbelief.

Very few, except the USC players and coaches, believed the Trojans would beat the Ducks, who had won 21 consecutive home games, at Autzen Stadium. Oregon was favored by 16.5 points when betting opened.

Sorry for being a little off in the predicted score of USC 41, Oregon 38.

There is no longer any doubt that the Trojans can play with any team in the country just like Pete Carroll’s second season in 2002 when USC beat a favored Oregon in Autzen and Carson Palmer won the Heisman Trophy.

And you know what happened after that.

Some of us hope for the same type of results that the 2003 Trojans earned in 2012.

Only this time, USC has played with the handicap of the second worst NCAA sanctions in history.

This season, which may end up with a 10-2 record after a victory over the UCLA Bruins next week, is a testament to Lane Kiffin, his coaching staff and the Trojans players.

They have fought hard and probably improved more than any team in the country.

This was the real Pac-12 conference championship game and makes the official one a "lame duck."

Sorry Larry Scott, but this is karma after some of the things you have done to USC this season and your failure to do anything to support the Trojans during the NCAA travesty.


What are the five things the Trojans learned?

1. The Trojans are back and jumped to No. 10 in the AP ranking with prospects for a national championship in 2012. This has been done with one of the most inexperienced teams in the country at the start of the season, which bodes well for the future.

2. USC QB Matt Barkley (26-of-35, 323 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT) has improved more this season than either of his first two. However, if he returns to USC for his senior year, he will likely improve that much more and be better prepared for the NFL, possibly get drafted No. 1 and win a Heisman Trophy while breaking all the USC passing and total offense records.

3. The USC defense can stop probably the best offense in the country, but not for an entire game. If juniors safety T.J. McDonald and DE Nick Perry return, that won’t be an issue next season.

4. The strength of the USC special teams continues to be a difference maker in games thanks to coach John Baxter and the desire of the best players to contribute.

5. It is time for people to start giving Lane Kiffin and his coaching staff the recognition they deserve for putting in place a plan to address the USC sanctions and the related uncertainty, recruiting the right players, developing young players so quickly and putting together excellent game plans. And let’s also not forget the fans that supported the team and coaches during the first five games when the Trojans suffered growing pains.

A great night for QB Matt Barkley and the OL
A great night for QB Matt Barkley and the OLSteve Dykes/Getty Images


USC is now 2-0 with top recruit Arik Armstead on the opposing sideline. He was a guest of Oregon for this game and Notre Dame for the Trojans victory there.

You have to respect the Ducks for the way they fought back, but it was an especially great Trojan victory because Oregon is so good and it was at Autzen where they do not lose. USC deserved to win that game and the Oregon coaches and players seem to understand that.

Here are grades from ESPNLA’s Pedro Moura and unfiltered sideline and locker room video highlights.

The Trojans host the UCLA Bruins (6-5) on Saturday, November 26 at 7:00 p.m. PT (FSN TV). Perhaps the biggest challenge will be for the team to maintain their focus after this great victory and that will be another step in the learning process.

And keep the Bruins from playing in the "Pac-11" championship game.


*Week 12 AP ranking