LOS ANGELES – Southern California thought it had figured out how to stop Oregon’s high-octane offense when the Trojans took a third-quarter lead on the nation’s top-ranked team.
Turns out the Ducks were only pausing on the way to another convincing win.
LaMichael James rushed for 239 yards and three touchdowns, Darron Thomas threw three of his four scoring passes to Jeff Maehl and No. 1 Oregon roared back from a second-half deficit with a 53-32 victory over the 24th-ranked Trojans on Saturday night.
Thomas passed for 288 yards and Maehl had eight catches for a career-high 145 yards for the fleet-footed Ducks (8-0, 4-0 Pac-10), who racked up 599 total yards. Oregon trailed in the third quarter for just the second time all season after USC scored two touchdowns in 21/2 minutes to take a 32-29 lead.
“That’s a little different for us, especially in the second half, but we just kept pushing,” Maehl said. “We knew our offense would wear them down.”
FBS rushing leader James led the Ducks to 24 consecutive points to close their first win at the Coliseum since 2000.
Matt Barkley passed for 263 yards and Marc Tyler rushed for two scores for the Trojans (5-3, 2-3), who used trickery and big defensive plays to stay competitive until the third quarter.
“We thought we had this game in the bag, but they played a hell of a game,” said USC defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, whose interception set up the Trojans’ first score in the third quarter.
The role reversal atop the Pac-10 is essentially complete with this victory for the Ducks, who toiled for much of the past decade in the shadow of USC’s seven consecutive conference titles. Oregon shoved its way into the Rose Bowl last season after a 27-point win over USC on Halloween night, and these speedy Ducks finally outran the probation-afflicted Trojans in the rematch.
“We have a tendency to wear people down,” Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. “I’m not into statements. I’m just into winning games.”
Despite a vibrant homecoming crowd cheering on its underdog Trojans, USC lost at the Coliseum for the fourth time in seven games. Ronald Johnson caught a TD pass while making a handful of big special-teams plays for the Trojans, and freshman Robert Woods had seven receptions in what’s likely to be the biggest game of USC’s bowl-less season under NCAA sanctions.
“Their tempo is real fast, and they don’t slow down the whole game,” USC cornerback Shareece Wright said.
Lavasier Tuinei had seven catches for 78 yards and a score for the Ducks, who are likely to keep the first No. 1 ranking in school history for a third straight week and hold on to second place in the BCS standings behind Auburn.
After a slow start, James rolled to his third 200-yard game of the season. Thomas shook off a few early mistakes to go 19 for 32 with three TD throws of at least 30 yards.