Ducks Strengthen BCS Case with 24-17 Defeat of USC
Oct. 27, 2007
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) -- Oregon can start seriously thinking about a national title run. As for Southern California, just winning the Pac-10 could be a long shot at this point.
Jonathan Stewart ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns and the fifth-ranked Ducks knocked off No. 9 USC 24-17 on Saturday.
Dennis Dixon completed 16 of 25 passes for 157 yards. He also ran for 76 yards and a touchdown for Oregon (7-1, 4-1). The Ducks, who came into the game ranked second nationally in total offense, had 339 yards against the Trojans' third-ranked defense. But it was turnovers -- including a fumble recovery and a pair of interceptions -- that gave Oregon the advantage over the Trojans (6-2, 3-2).
USC, which came into the season ranked No. 1 and a heavy favorite to play for a national title, now will need lot of help to defend the Pac-10 crown it's owned at least a share of for five straight seasons.
Mark Sanchez, making his third start for the Trojans in place of the injured John David Booty, completed 26 of 41 passes for 277 yards and two touchdowns, but the misthrows hurt him.
Trailing 24-10 with 4:44 left in the game, Sanchez narrowed the gap with a 14-yard touchdown pass to David Ausberry.
Sanchez led the Trojans to the Oregon 33 on their final drive, but he was intercepted by Matthew Harper -- who had also intercepted another key pass earlier in the quarter.
After the interception, fans rushed onto the field and even Dixon appeared headed to the locker room. But there were still 9 seconds on the clock, so the celebration was delayed while they cleared the field and played the game out.
It was the first time in Autzen Stadium's 41-year history that two top-10 teams played. The game drew a stadium record of 59,277 fans.
Booty, nursing a broken middle finger on his throwing hand, was suited up on the sidelines but the Trojans did not go to him.
Dixon faked a handoff to Stewart and ran 3 yards for a touchdown to put the Ducks up 7-0 with 2:50 to go in the first quarter. It was Dixon's eighth straight game with a rushing TD.
USC's David Buehler kicked a 30-yard field goal to narrow the gap, but Matt Evensen added a 41-yard field goal for the Ducks to put Oregon up 10-3 at halftime.
Sanchez hit Patrick Turner with a 9-yard touchdown pass early in the second half to tie it at 10.
Oregon capitalized on a turnover to go ahead 17-10. Defensive end Will Tukuafu stripped the ball from Trojans fullback Stanley Havili on the USC 16 and recovered the fumble. Two plays later, Stewart ran 16 yards for the score.
Stewart, a junior, became the first Oregon player to run for 1,000 yards or more in a season since Terrence Whitehead in 2004.
Harper intercepted Sanchez's pass intended for Anthony McCoy and returned it 27 yards, and the Ducks went on to score on Stewart's 1-yard run to make it 24-10.
USC had won the last three games against the Ducks, including last year's 35-10 victory in Los Angeles.
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