When it comes to USC football, it’s always about an abundance of talent and weapons. Whether it’s quarterback Matt Barkley, running backs Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford, wide receivers Damian Williams and Ronald Johnson, tight end Anthony McCoy, safety Taylor Mays, or linebacker Chris Galippo, all were showcased last Saturday evening at the Memorial Coliseum in this Pacific 10 Conference clash.
Facing Oregon State, and hoping to avoid a second crushing loss, the Trojans fended off the frisky Beavers, 42-36, before 89,718 fans.
A season ago, top-ranked USC fell to Oregon State, 27-21, and were hoping to avoid a similar fate.
USC (6-1 and 3-1 in conference) came in No. 4 in the Associated Press poll, No. 7 in the first Bowl Championship Series computer ranking, and are now No. 5 in the BCS standings.
No. 1-ranked Alabama needed a late blocked field goal to assure a 12-10 victory over Tennessee, while No. 2 Florida smacked Mississippi State, 29-19, and No. 3 Texas blasted Missouri, 41-7.
“I’d rather win a million games like that than lose 3-0,’’ said Galippo, who finished with seven tackles.
In six starts, Barkley hasn’t lost, and though not sharp, was effective enough to toss two first-half touchdowns, and run for another score.
Barkley was intercepted twice, and there was a third picks, but a late hit by linebacker Keaton Kristick nullified the play.
Barkley’s eight-yard touchdown pass to McCoy made it 7-0 with just less than 10 minutes left in the opening quarter.
The score was set up when tailback Jacquizz Rodgers (20 carries for 113 yards) fumbled at the Oregon State 24.
It became 14-6 with 12:53 left in the second quarter after Barkley (15 of 25 attempts for 202 yards) lofted a 22-yard spiral to Johnson (99 yards and six receptions) that ended an 82-yard, nine-play drive.
The Trojans were in command, 21-6, when Barkley ran it in from one yard out and just over two minutes left before the intermission, capping an 80-yard march.
Oregon State’s only points of the half came on three field goals by Justin Kahut, who converted a pair of 48-yard attempts in the first quarter, and a 33-yard kick in the second quarter, but was wide left on a 22-yard boot.
Much of the second half belonged to Bradford (career-high 147 yards and 15 carries), who tallied a two-yard run in the third quarter to make it 28-16 with 6:34 left, and then ripped off a sparkling 43-yard burst that closed out a 72-yard, five-play drive late in the same quarter to make it 35-23.
When Williams returned a punt 63 yards early in the fourth quarter that pushed the lead to 19 points, it seemed USC was on cruise control.
But that wasn’t the case, as Oregon State (4-3 and 2-2 in conference) scored the final 13 points when wide receiver James Rodgers (56 yards and seven catches), Jacquizz’s older brother, snared a seven-yard pass from quarterback Sean Canfield (30 of 42 for 329 yards), while the younger Rodgers added a one-yard run with 5:41 left.
“They spread us out when we played man to man, and they just picked away,’’ said Mays, who had 11 tackles.
Canfield’s 15-yard scoring toss to wide receiver Damola Adeniji (81 yards and five catches) with 3:18 left in the third quarter made it 28-23.
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a contributor to trufanboxing.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.