Trojans are knocked defenseless
Welcome to their nightmare.
USC’s hopes for a berth in the Bowl Championship Series title game are over.
So, almost certainly, are the Trojans’ chances of winning an eighth consecutive Pacific 10 Conference title.
Both ended Saturday night at Autzen Stadium when 10th-ranked Oregon handed fourth-ranked USC its worst loss of the Pete Carroll era, a 47-20 pounding before a delirious Halloween night crowd of 59,592.
On a cold night in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and running back LaMichael James chilled the Trojans to the bone with outstanding performances for the Ducks, who are in complete control of the Pac-10 race with designs on a BCS bowl game bid.
“That was a real mess,” Carroll said outside the Trojans’ locker room after the Ducks manhandled a Trojans team that was fifth in the BCS standings.
USC players appeared stunned after the Ducks rolled up 613 yards, the second-most ever yielded by the Trojans.
“They hit us in the mouth and kept hitting us in the mouth,” senior safety Taylor Mays.
The Trojans, who fell to 6-2 and 3-2 in the Pac-10, had no answer against an Oregon team that is 7-1 and in the Pac-10 driver’s seat at 5-0.
After being exposed in the second half of victories over Notre Dame and Oregon State, USC’s defense went from bent to broken.
“I never thought it would happen to us,” defensive end Everson Griffen said. “They came out and played at a whole different level.
“We couldn’t match their intensity and they kept making big plays.”
Masoli made many of them.
While it’s hard to fathom anyone running the Ducks’ spread offense better than Dennis Dixon in 2007, Masoli did just that.
The junior, from Hawaii by way of City College of San Francisco, operated the no-huddle offense to perfection and rushed for 164 yards and a touchdown.
“The runs that he popped, whether they were scrambles or by design, just broke our back,” Carroll said.
So did Masoli’s passes.
He completed 19 of 31 for 222 yards, and added insult to injury by throwing a second-quarter touchdown pass to wide receiver Jamere Holland, a former USC player who transferred to Oregon.
James was even more unstoppable.
The 5-foot-7 redshirt freshman made like Oregon State’s Jacquizz Rodgers and darted his way to a career-best 183 yards, slipping tackles with ankle-breaking moves and surprising power.
James and Masoli led the way as the Ducks, who punted only once, amassed 391 rushing yards, the most surrendered by the Trojans since Texas A&M; ran for 486 in the 1977 Bluebonnet Bowl.
James, a native Texan, was happy to contribute to the cause.
“They were talking a little bit of smack,” James said of the Trojans amid the crush of fans who stormed the field.
“But it’s all good. You see the score?”
The 47 points were the most scored by Oregon against USC in the history of a series that dates to 1915.
It also was the most scored against a Carroll-coached Trojans team.
“Oregon did everything it wanted to do,” said Carroll, who is now 0 for Oregon in his last four trips to the Beaver State.
Oregon, which has won seven consecutive games since a season-opening loss at Boise State, took a 24-17 halftime lead on Holland’s touchdown and then broke open the game with three scoring drives in the third quarter.
The Trojans pulled to within 27-20 on a Jordan Congdon field goal midway through the period, but James and Kenjon Barner scored on short runs on consecutive possessions to push the lead to 21 points going into the fourth quarter.
“That was one of the best rhythms I think we’ve been in,” Masoli said.
The Ducks added two of Morgan Flint’s four field goals for good measure, while stuffing a Trojans offense that managed only three second-half points.
“We ran out of juice to finish the game,” Carroll said. “We needed some plays, we needed some things to happen and they weren’t there.”
Carroll and his players said they would begin to look forward, that they could come back and get a few breaks to salvage the season, much as they did in 2007 when they lost here.
Whether they believe it, after what happened Saturday, remains to be seen.
As Carroll said: “We’ve never been in something like that.”
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Most points given up in the Pete Carroll era and the most USC has given up since a 48-41 overtime loss to UCLA in 1996
Largest margin of defeat under Carroll (previous was 11 against Notre Dame in 2001; previous largest Pac-10 loss: 7 points)
Yards rushing for Oregon, the most USC has given up since 1977 Bluebonnet Bowl vs. Texas A&M; (486). USC had been giving up 79.9 yards a game on the ground.
Total yards for Oregon, the second-most in USC history (after 623 against Notre Dame in 1946).
The last time Oregon played in Rose Bowl, but the Ducks (5-0 in Pac-10) have the inside track.
Consecutive Pac-10 titles for USC, a streak that seems unlikely to reach eight.