by: MICHAEL WORKMAN Tight end David Paulson barrels close to the goal line with a key fourth-quarter reception for the Oregon Ducks in their 38-35 loss to USC.

EUGENE - NBA stars showed up at Autzen Stadium for the USC-Oregon game Saturday, purportedly thanks to an invite from Nike founder/UO fan Phil Knight.

Among the notable players to make the trip, and an appearance on the sideline as the Ducks and Trojans warmed up: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul. Kobe Bryant was not among them.

Meanwhile, the Ducks (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) hoped to clinch the Pac-12 Northern Division title and the right to play host to the league championship game Dec. 2. The Trojans (8-2, 5-2), still under NCAA sanctions, hoped to derail UO"s quest, if only for a week, and make a statement about still being a power in the Pac-12.

The Ducks wore an all-black Nike uniform ensemble, but the colored numbers were unreadable from the press box.

Here's quarter-by-quarter track of the game:


Not exactly a thrilling start for the offenses: punts.

USC quarterback Matt Barkley fumbled a third-down snap, with the Ducks' Brandon Hanna recovering at the USC 20. But Oregon QB Darron Thomas threw a backward pass to De'Anthony Thomas, which was ruled an incompletion; on review, it was ruled a carry and a fumble, USC had recovered and took over at the USC 25.

The Ducks got the ball back on a punt; with an 11-yard punt return, LaMichael James became UO's all-time leading all-purpose yardage maker, passing Derek Loville.

USC pass rusher Nick Perry forced Thomas to fumble on third down; the Ducks recovered. And, Jackson Rice's 21-yard punt put USC at its own 41.

On USC's first play, Barkley found a streaking Marqise Lee, who beat Troy Hill for a 59-yard TD play. It was 7-0, USC.

The Ducks bounced back, moving into USC territory. But Thomas got nailed for a nine-yard loss on a sack and Rahsaan Vaughn dropped a pass on fourth-and-8 at the USC 33.

The Trojans moved into scoring position again. Barkley hit Lee for 14 yards on third-and-13. Later, it was Barkley to Robert Woods for 24 yards, and the Trojans faced third-and-3 at the UO 12 at the end of the opening quarter.


On the third-and-3 play, Barkley threw a 12-yard fade TD pass to Woods, who wrestled the ball away from Avery Patterson, and it was 14-0, USC.

The Ducks moved into USC territory, but the drive slowed with Hroniss Grasu's holding penalty. After a punt, USC went on the move again, but had to punt after Barkley's third-down pass was broken up by Terrance Mitchell.

The Ducks went 88 yards to get on the scoreboard. Thomas hit Colt Lyerla for 35 yards, and then found De'Anthony Thomas for a 29-yard TD pass.

Barkley and Lee torched Hill again, for 32 yards to the UO 6. On third down, Barkley found Woods for a 4-yard TD pass with 2:27 left in the first half, and USC led 21-7 as the Ducks were experiencing their biggest challenge since the season-opener against LSU.

Thomas hit David Paulson and Lavasier Tuinei on third-down passes as the Ducks tried to narrow the deficit before halftime. Thomas then hit De'Anthony for what officials ruled as a 18-yard TD pass, but the receiver's foot was out of bounds, and the call was changed on review.

James ran for nine yards and then he coughed up a fumble on the next carry, with USC's Jawanza Starling recovering at the Trojan 9. Big turn of events, as USC led 21-7 at halftime.

Barkley went 15 of 19 for 186 yards and three scores in the first half.

James had 70 yards on 17 carries.


Ouch, tough start for the Ducks in an ever-important first series of the second half. Thomas got stuffed on two runs and then fumbled (and recovered) on third down. The Trojans' T.J. McDonald blocked Rice's punt attempt and took over at the UO 12.

On third-and-3, Barkley threw incomplete. Andre Heidari hit a 26-yard field goal, making it 24-7.

The Ducks, needing a score, struck back. De'Anthony Thomas returned the kick 51 yards. The QB Thomas hit Josh Huff on a 28-yard catch-and-run play. And, Kenjon Barner had a 9-yard TD run, making it 24-14.

USC bounced back. Curtis McNeal rushed for 21 yards and Barkley found Lee for a 41-yard gain, the receiver breaking off safety coverage and beating Ifo Ekpre-Olomu for the ball. Marc Tyler scored on a 3-yard TD run, and USC led 31-14.

Huff dropped a third-down pass and UO punted.

The Trojans put more distance between themselves and the home team, going 65 yards on nine plays, surgically cutting through the UO defense, and scoring on Barkley's fourth TD pass, a 5-yarder to Randall Telfer. Score: USC 38, Ducks 14.

De'Anthony Thomas injected some life into the Ducks, faking a reverse and running 96 yards for the touchdown on the kickoff. The Ducks' two-point conversion pass was batted away, and it was 38-20, USC.


The Ducks' momentum continued, as they drove 79 yards on nine plays in 2:16 to score on Barner's 8-yard TD. The extra-point made it 38-27, USC, with 12:44 left.

USC ate up some clock, but John Boyett intercepted a Barkley pass over the middle near midfield.

David Paulson made a tough catch in traffic that got Oregon to the 1-yard line, and James punched the ball across on the next play, making it 38-33 with 7:05 left. Going for two points, Darron Thomas hit Lavasier Tuinei in the back of the end zone to pull the Ducks within three points.

The Trojans moved the chains through the air and got into scoring territory. Then they ran for another first down, putting them inside the Oregon 15.

But USC lost a fumble in the backfield, giving Oregon the ball with 2:31 to go at its 14.

Barner ran for a first down, but a sack of Darron Thomas forced third-and-11. Paulson got the first down on a screen.

Then came a completion to De'Anthony Thomas to the USC 43 with 1:20 left. An incompletion and a completed screen made it third-and-1 inside the final minute. Barner made the first down with a yard to spare.

USC called timeout with 38 seconds on the clock.

Barner ran for nine yards and then picked up the first down to the 18. Oregon threw incomplete with 14 seconds remaining. A pass in the flat to Tuinei lost yardage and brought the clock to eight seconds.

Oregon tried to take a knee but was flagged for a false start. Darron Thomas took a knee, and on came Alejandro Maldonado for a field-goal attempt - long for him at about 42 yards - to tie the game.

USC jumped offside.

Maldonado pulled the kick just left, and Oregon lost 38-35.