The trip to get there was largely unconventional, but Oregon captured the second straight Pac-12 championship Friday night by holding out another late USC win 31-24. USC entered 5-0 with a last-minute hat-trick of triumphs in their favor, but the Trojans were unable to break out of an early 14-0 hole, despite a late comeback attempt.
USC was a seven-time soccer delay in late fourth quarter, but Kidon Slovis’ third interception at night was costly. When the USC midfielder burst out of his pocket to evade the pressure less than three minutes before the end, he unleashed an unwise throwing down in the Oregon area instead of just throwing the ball away. The heroic attempts backfired when Oregon player Jamal Hill was able to control the ball and squeeze his toes to intercept after the soccer swayed initially.
Then, with Anthony Brown moving from Boston College to Quarterback, Oregon got its first touchdown, allowing the duck to run the clock down less than a minute before returning it to the USC. But the latest effort by the Trojans with no deadline yielded no results.
This was the conference title predicted in the pre-season media poll for the league. But Oregon wasn’t actually supposed to be here. Instead, Washington (3-1) was supposed to represent Pac-12 North in the title game. However, Oregon took second place nodding when Husky encountered COVID-19 problems that kept them from playing.
The Ducks rose to ninth in the AP Top 25 poll during a 3–0 start before losing streak Oregon Cale in recent weeks ended their chances of making a big splash on the national stage. However, Oregon appears to have put the horrors of those defeats far into the past as it flared out on Friday. The Ducks picked up Slovis twice in the first quarter to set up a touchdown pair as the ducks advanced 14-0.
Although the USC fought back during a landing three times, the Trojans could never come close. After a brief season of late-game tournaments, their clutch magic is finally running out.
Duck depth at QB factor
Brown did not play in the first five matches for the Ducks that entered Friday night, but entered and attempted the first pass in a big moment in the first quarter. Cornerback Deauseore Lenoir put Oregon inside the 10-yard USC line with the first USC chain intercept. The Ducks faced a third goal when Brown scored to start midfielder Tyler Schugh and hit Gaylon Reed for a relegation to put Oregon ahead 7-0. Brown also delivered a short touch pass in the third quarter to lift Oregon 28-14, capping 14 games. Although Brown only attempted four passes compared to Shough’s 15, his presence as a second midfield player in the game was effective and something the Trojans didn’t see on tape.
This wasn’t the only time a midfield player in Oregon had made an impact. Cale Millen, a freshman in a red shirt not listed as one of the Duck’s Top Three Midfielders, played in special teams and tackled kickoff coverage during the second quarter.
Oregon defensive sophomore Kayvon Thibodeaux won the MVP award. He made a major debut in the late third quarter after USC reclaimed a side kick while trailing from 28-17. Trojans seem to have stolen the game’s momentum by playing daring special teams. But Thibodeaux then sacked Slovis to lose nine yards in third place to force USC Punt and dominate the swing in the game in favor of Oregon. Thibodeaux finished with five full tackles and also had breakout passes while constantly pressing Slovis’ face. He will be a major factor in 2021 and among the country’s best defensive players.