The Coliseum is one of the most historic football venues in all of college football. Football legends like O.J. Simpson, Marcus Allen, and Reggie Bush have dominated opponents that entered into the arena. After getting set up before the evening's main event I decided to cruise around the place. Check out the views. See the history. Heck I even touched some of the history. Heisman trophies were won in this building. National titles were built here. The Coliseum is college football. The pageantry, the tradition, the legends of previous eras it is all found inside the hallows of The Coliseum.
Oregon running back Kenjon Barner bounces into the end zone for his 5th touchdown.
Kenjon Barner and the Oregon Ducks said hello to that history and simply swept all the history books off the table and set rewrote the records as they beat USC 62-51 Saturday night inside the Coliseum.
"This is the best offense I've ever seen in my life," said former Oregon running back sensation LaMichael James in a tunnel of the Coliseum following the game.
James was right. This was the best offense he'd ever seen and this was the best offense USC and their historic program has ever seen. Not any of the 60s or 70s USC offenses could touch Oregon's. Not a Pete Carroll coached team and yes not even that 2005 USC team that included last names like Bush, Leinhart, White, Smith, and Jarrett. None could even come close to Oregon's offense Saturday.
Oregon's offense racked up 62 points and 730 yards of total offense - both records for opponents against USC dating all the way back to 1888 when the Trojans first started playing college football.
In the echoes of the Coliseum you can hear Kenjon Barner's name being called time and time again. Marcus Mariota carving up a USC defense. Josh Huff spinning and fighting his way out of tackles and into touchdowns. Oregon's offense was unstoppable Saturday night against USC even when everyone knew what was coming.
“Obviously they moved the ball," said a disappointed Lane Kiffin. "They were moving on us. They had really good players who played great today."
Heisman Trophy winners have starred on this field and six* USC players have been gracious to win it. Saturday night we may have found USC's number seven* in Marqise Lee but maybe we see Oregon's first Heisman winner in Kenjon Barner first.
For three years Barner sat and waited behind James as the now former Duck claimed the Doak Walker Award, was invited to New York for the Heisman, and dominated fall Saturdays. Now in his final season Barner got his chance to be the man at Oregon and on Saturday night in front of friends and family Oregon saw a performance unlike any other.
"He's a warrior. He's had an unbelievable impact on this team," gushed Chip Kelly after Barner ran for 321 yards and five touchdowns against USC. "Offensively there's not many seniors on this team. We're young on the offensive line and at receiver, have a freshman quarterback. He's the one leader of that group and he's really embraced that role and our guys follow him. Not only does he talk about it, but he lives it. It's the same way in practice. He had a great summer and really capitalizes on it. I am really glad he decided to come back for his senior year."
Oregon had 14 possessions and only two of those possessions ended because USC stopped Oregon. Once on a fumble by Mariota in the first half and then late in the fourth quarter with just three minutes and change remaining and the game all but over the Ducks punted. Oregon's two other non-scoring drives? Oregon taking a knee to end the half and to take a knee to end the game. Let that one sink in a little bit.
"We knew it would be a shootout," said USC's Matt Barkley. "I felt like we had to play perfect on offense and score every drive."
Oregon's offense almost accomplished the feat and the Trojan offense couldn't go blow for blow with the heavyweight power from the north.
"That's what this deal is all about," Kelly said of each team's offensive performances. "You take their best shot and live with it."
Everyone and their Grandma had been waiting to see what an Oregon offense would be like when forced to play a full four quarters and most importantly with the game on the line. Saturday night the nation got their wish and to be fair it was pretty much like any other week for Oregon's offense - unstoppable.
"It's just Oregon football,” Barner explained. "We put up points and you've got to stop us."
If there was a moment where you could sum up how good Barner and the Oregon offense were Saturday night one would look to the last few minutes when Barner looked to have ran in his 5th touchdown of the night but to have it called back on a holding penalty. 300 yards looked out of the picture as time dwindled away but on a third and long just two plays later there was Barner out running a tired USC defense for 22 yards, 301 yards rushing, scoring the 61st point for the Ducks, punching in his career high fifth touchdown, and leaving one last mark on the Trojan defense to show how dominate Oregon's offense was Saturday night.
"Everyone was questioning whether we could handle a four-quarter challenge and I think we did that tonight," said Barner post game.
Yes Kenjon yes you did.