LOS ANGELES Oregon certifiably proved its college football standing on a record-breaking Saturday night against USC at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Ducks' offense soared to another level, led by quarterback Marcus Mariota and running back Kenjon Barner, propelling and powering its way up field on eight drives en route to the 62-51 win over the Trojans before a sold-out crowd of 93,607.
Barner ran 39 times for an Oregon-record 321 yards and five touchdowns, and Mariota threw four touchdown passes as the UO offense produced 732 yards.
The UO offense had to be its best, because USC's Matt Barkley, Marqise Lee and friends took Oregon's punches and kept coming back.
The Ducks led 21-3 in the first half, and the Trojans rallied. Time after time, the Ducks tried to distance themselves, only for the Trojans to rally.
USC scored with 5:27 left in the game to pull within 55-45.
The Trojans went for an onside kick, but recovered the ball of bounds, giving Oregon possession at its 49-yard line. The Ducks failed to make a first down, and Oregon punted for the first time in the game, giving USC the ball at its 15 with 3:35 left and needing two scores to tie or win.
When the Trojans failed on a fourth-and-5 pass, the outcome was all but sealed.
But before it was over, Barner broke loose on a 22-yard TD scamper as Oregon pushed its points total above 60.
USC drove to the Oregon 3 with five seconds remaining and got a closing TD on a pass from Barkley to Lee.
Oregon (9-0, 6-0 Pac-12), ranked No. 2 in polls and No. 4 in BCS standings, play at California on Saturday, Nov. 10.
The Trojans, the preseason Pac-12 favorite, fell to 6-3, 4-3.
The Ducks threatened to blow out the Trojans in the first half with long drives and 460 yards offense but the Trojans kept bouncing back. Oregon led 34-24 at halftime, setting up a potentially great second half.
USC cut into the deficit, thanks to a couple UO pass-interference penalties and some run-pass balance on a five-minute possession.
Silas Redd's 8-yard carry put the Trojans at first-and-goal at the UO 8. Barkley threw a couple incompletions, and another on third down on a slant-route pass intended for Lee in the end zone, but UO's Ifo Ekpre-Olumu got called for pass interference. Redd's 2-yard TD run made it 34-31.
Barner, topping 200 yards rushing, helped the Ducks go ahead by two scores again, as Oregon marched 75 yards on 13 plays. He and Daryle Hawkins (on a pass reception) converted fourth downs. And, Barner scored on a 9-yard TD run that put Oregon ahead 41-31.
But Lee broke off an 82-yard kickoff return, a touchdown saved by a hustling Troy Hill at the UO 16. Barkley hit Lee for 11 yards on third-and-8. Redd scored on a 3-yard TD run, and it was 41-38 Ducks.
Oregon's offense kept up its superb play. Barner rushed for 21 yards and Mariota threw a pinpoint, 37-yard TD pass to Josh Huff. Oregon led 48-38 after the quick 74-yard drive. It was Mariota's fourth TD pass.
The Ducks had 614 yards offense through three quarters, barreling down at the school record of 720 against New Mexico in 2010. Barner had 250 yards, only 38 yards shy of LaMichael James' record of 288 (versus Arizona in 2011).
The UO defense forced a rare punt, as Barkley threw incomplete on second down and Ekpre-Olomu nearly picked off the third-down pass maybe the key sequence of the game. And, Oregon went into lead-protection mode, while also continuing to churn up field; by the end, it was an 85-yard scoring drive, capped by Barner's fourth touchdown, a 5-yard run. The Ducks led 55-38 with 9:15 left.
The Ducks stole momentum about as many times as they scored in the first half, and they scored a lot touchdowns on their first five drives, appearing unstoppable, before a missed field-goal attempt and a lost fumble.
USC did not go away, and only a fumble inside the UO red zone prevented a closer score than UO's 34-24 halftime lead. It was a terrific first 30 minutes of football the Ducks scoring on drives of 75, 75, 80, 88 and 81 yards (460 yards offense!), and Barkley and his receivers showing off their big-play capabilities, throwing for 303 yards in the first half.
Mariota came out slinging the ball, and threw a 16-yard TD pass to De'Anthony Thomas on the first drive. The Trojans responded for the first time appearing to score on a Barkley-to Nelson Agholor TD pass, but a review showed that Argholor bobbled the ball and he fell out of bounds. In a game where USC had to match scores, the Trojans fell behind immediately, scoring on Andre Heidari's 39-yard field goal.
The Ducks drove and scored on Mariota's 21-yard TD pass to Huff, making it 14-3. Ekpre-Olomu made an early big play, picking off Barkley's pass intended for Lee in the end zone; 80 yards later, it was 21-3 after Barner's 27-yard TD run a play after Lamar Dawson dropped a potential interception.
But Barkley rolled out and found Lee, who beat Brian Jackson for the ball and scored on a 75-yard TD pass.
A Michael Clay personal foul penalty left Oregon at the UO 12 after the kickoff, furthering USC's momentum. But Mariota made play after play, and Barner scored on a 5-yard TD run, making it 27-10 (the Trojans blocked Rob Beard's extra-point attempt).
The Trojans drove 77 yards to score, with a scrambling Barkley finding Robert Woods on a 7-yard TD pass. Again, UO fired back, as Mariota kept on an option for 58 yards and he threw a 14-yard TD pass to Hawkins. The Ducks led 34-17, and a play later, they had a golden opportunity to build a three-touchdown lead. Kiko Alonso picked off a Barkley pass, with pressure from Terrance Mitchell.
But, on third-and-14 at the USC 32, the Ducks opted to run the ball, with Barner picking up only eight yards. Beard missed a 41-yard field-goal attempt.
On USC's ensuing play, Argholor caught a Barkley ball against Mitchell and Avery Patterson, and ran for a 76-yard TD reception score, cutting the home team's deficit to 34-24.
The Ducks' offense, unstoppable for five drives, sputtered again, despite a pretty 32-yard, Mariota-to-Keanon Lowe pass. UO moved to the USC 13. Just after being hit hard by Hayes Pullard on a run (hurting his shoulder at the same time), Mariota mixed up a handoff with Barner, and the Ducks fumbled.
The Trojans chugged forward, with a pass and a couple big runs to the UO 15 as the first half wound down. Barkley threw incomplete (Lee drop) and then Lee, after receiving a pass, tried to make a play, only for the ball to be jarred from him by Dion Jordan, with UO's Erick Dargan recovering.
Barkley went 17 of 26 for 303 yards in the first half. Barner had 16 carries for 169 yards. Mariota went 14 of 16 for 213 yards and three scores, and rushed for 72 yards on 11 carries.
The most penalized team in the country, USC had one penalty in the first half.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
OregonÂ 14Â Â Â Â Â 20Â Â Â Â Â 14Â Â Â Â Â 14Â Â Â Â Â Â --Â Â Â Â Â 62
USCÂ Â Â Â 3Â Â Â Â Â Â 21Â Â Â Â Â 14Â Â Â Â Â 13Â Â Â Â Â Â --Â Â Â Â Â 51
UO De'Anthony Thomas 16 pass from Marcus Mariota (Rob Beard kick) 13:55
USC Andre Heidari 39 FG 8:04
UO Josh Huff 21 pass from Mariota (Beard kick) 4:53
UO Kenjon Barner 27 run (Beard kick) 14:48
USC Marqise Lee 75 pass from Matt Barkley (Heidari kick) 14:36
UO Barner 5 run (kick failed) 11:27
USC Robert Woods 7 pass from Barkley (Heidari kick) 5:59
UO Daryle Hawkins 14 pass from Mariota (Beard kick) 5:03
USC Nelson Agholor 76 pass from Barkley (Heidari kick) 2:37
USC Silas Redd 2 run (Heidari kick) 9:59
UO Barner 9 run (Beard kick) 5:14
USC Redd 3 run (Heidari kick) 2:32
UO Huff 36 pass from Mariota (Beard kick) 1:19
UO Barner 5 run (Beard kick)
USC Â Randall Telfer 3 pass from Barkley (Heidari kick) 5:27
UO Â Barner 22 run (Beard kick) 1:58
USC Â Lee 3 pass from Barkley (pass failed) :01
Att. 93,607 (sellout)