Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 20, 2011
Three Plays That Made the Difference: USC

A week after upsetting the Stanford Cardinal on the road, teh Ducks returned to the friendly confines of Autzen Stadium. Maybe it was too friendly as the visiting Trojans jumped out to a 24 point lead in the third quarter before holding off a furious comeback attempt in a 38-35 victory over the Ducks. Three plays really stand out that made the difference in the outcome of this game


1st Quarter, 7:00
For the first three possessions of the game, the Ducks and Trojans had traded off two punts and a fumble on each side. Through those first three possessions the Ducks had out-gained USC 21 yards to just 8 yards. But on that third possession, Jackson Rice had only gotten off just a 22 yard punt giving the Trojans exceptional field position at their own 41. Immeidately, Matt Barkley went down field to Marquise Le, Troy Hill was not in good position for defending the pass and was not able to stop Lee once he had the ball in his hands. The result was a 59 yard touchdown on the first play of the possession.


2nd Quarter, 0:44

Trailing 21-7, the Ducks were marching down the field on the final possession of the first half. A score late would provide momentum for the second half as the Ducks would have the ball to open the third quarter. On a 3rd-and-1 play from the USC 9-yard line, LaMichael James took the hand-off and went up the middle. Finding no room, he attempted a spin move to gain the extra yard he needed for a first down. as he was moving forward, his el;bow brace was hit from behind and he lost control of the football fumbling it to the Trojans. Instead of going into the half with momentum and only trailing by 7 points after being outplayed in the first half, the Ducks went to halftime trailing by 14 with seemingly no wind in their sails.


4th Quarter, 0:19

After a very fortuitous fumble from Marc Tyler allowed the Ducks to continue their frenetic comeback attempt, the Ducks proceeded to march the ball from their own 14-yard line 68 yards to the USC 18-yard line. Victory was close to their grasp. After an incomplete pass on first down, with three timeouts left, Darron Thomas dropped back to pass and threw a quick out to Lavasier Tuinei that resulted in a 2 yard loss. With the length of time the play took and the Ducks choice to not take an immediate, quick timeout, by the time the next play was run there were only 7 seconds left on the clock. Without enough time to take a shot at the end-zone, the Ducks attempted a 37 yard field goal that was ultimately missed. But it is the second down play that haunts this series as a shot to the end-zone, with the Trojans on their heels might have made the difference in this game. Instead, the difference was a 2-yard loss that sapped most of the time from the clock.

In the end, though the Ducks could not complete a miracle comeback, this was a great college football game worth every penny and every ounce of energy the fans put into their cheers. It's too bad that the rest of the nation thinks that a 9-6 game ought to be replayed. If you ask me, this game is the game that should be replayed. All the drama and more entertainment. SEC defenses may be the best on the land and they may be able to beat most teams around the country in a one game situation, but the USC-Oregon game is what college football should be about.


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