The first of two 2011 USC games was just shown on ESPNU. First up: USC vs. Oregon on Nov. 19, 2011 up in Eugene. USC went on to win 38-35. Here are three retroactive thoughts from the Trojans' biggest win of 2011:
Matt Barkley had his best game... ever
Sure, he broke records in the Colorado and UCLA games. But through three years, this was Barkley's greatest game of his career. The team went up to one of the country's most intimidating venues -- with a 22-game win streak on the line for Oregon -- and Barkley and co. didn't blink.
"Matt Barkley is shredding this secondary," Brent Musburger said 13-and-a-half minutes into the game. At that point, he was already nine-for-ten with a touchdown. From hitting Marqise Lee on the opening 59-yard touchdown pass to finding Robert Woods twice in the second quarter, No. 7 was throwing lasers against Oregon's defense all night.
The blonde-haired captain finished 26-for-34 passing for 323 yards, four scores, one pick and a spot on top of the ladder to lead the fans and band in a rousing rendition of "Conquest."
Hayes Pullard is a bad, bad man
Of the strong linebacking corps, Pullard was the most active againstWarriors vs Trojans coverageWarriors vs Trojans coverage the Ducks. James run to the outside? Pullard's on the sideline making the stop. Draw up the middle? No problem for Pullard. Pass down the left? The then-redshirt freshman broke it up. He had two sacks, a forced fumble and a team-high 14 tackles. With his versatility, Pullard may be the most dynamic linebacker in the 2012 defense. Dion Bailey, Lamar Dawson and Pullard will be a fun trio to watch.
Defense's conditioning suspect
The Ducks' offense relies on its relentlessness to tire a defense down. Through three quarters, USC did a fantastic job of not letting the Quack Attack turn the game into a track meet. Then the fourth quarter happened. USC's offense slowed down and the defense could not deter James, Darron Thomas and Kenjon Barner's spread assault. Tackles were missed. The Trojans were aided by two Duck turnovers and were fortunate that Barkley and Tyler's fourth-quarter turnovers did not lose the game. But when Oregon comes down to the Coliseum this November, the Trojans must be ruthless in shutting down Barner and De'Anthony Thomas.
A few more thoughts
* Obviously, Marqise Lee was dominant. But that wasn't anything that new. He continued his stellar freshman campaign with an eight-catch, 187-yard, one-touchdown performance. It was a prelude for the next week, when he kinda-sorta played 2pac to UCLA's Biggie Smalls.
* Quick question: Is anyone still confused why Chip Kelly sat on all his timeouts in the fourth quarter? Yes, Oregon's tempo predicates on fatiguing the opposing defense, to prohibit substitutions. But did he really want this game to fall on the leg of his shaky freshman kicker?
* De'Anthony Thomas is stupid fast.
* Here's to never hearing, "This is USC's bowl game" unless it's actually USC's bowl game. (Vigorously knocking on wood.)