EUGENE, Ore. — Matt Barkley threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns and No. 18 USC held off No. 4 Oregon 38-35 on Saturday night when Alejandro Maldonado missed a 37-yard field goal to tie the game with five seconds left.
Trailing 24-7 in the third quarter, Oregon mounted a furious comeback and narrowed it to 38-35 with 7:05 left in the fourth quarter. Barkley led his team to the Oregon 15, but Marc Tyler fumbled and the ball was recovered by the Ducks with 2:54 to go.
Oregon marched down the field but Maldondado's kick, which was brought five yards closer because of a USC penalty, went wide left.
The loss snaps a 21-game winning streak for the Ducks (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) at Autzen Stadium, which was the longest in the nation. It also stopped Oregon's winning streak in conference games at 19.
Robert Woods, who was held out of some practices this week with ankle and shoulder injuries, caught seven passes for 53 yards and two scores. With the victory, USC (9-2, 6-2) kept the Ducks from clinching a spot in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game.
The loss had greater implications for Oregon after No. 2 Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State 37-31on Friday night, which is sure to shake up the BCS standings. The Ducks had jumped to fourth in those rankings after a decisive 53-30 victory over then-No. 3 Stanford last week.
But against USC, they were playing catch up from the start.
The Trojans scored first on Barkley's 59-yard touchdown pass to Marqise Lee in the first quarter, then added Barkley's 12-yard scoring pass to Woods early in the second to go up 14-0.
The Ducks didn't' look like themselves until an efficient scoring drive midway through the second quarter. Darron Thomas hit true freshman Colt Lyerla with a 35-yard pass before striking fellow frosh De'Anthony Thomas with a 29-yarder for the touchdown. The seven-play drive covered 88 yards in just 2:15.
But USC answered with Barkley's 4-yard touchdown pass to Woods. The TD, Barkley's 73rd, moved him past Carson Palmer for second on Southern California's career touchdown list. Matt Leinart had 99 for the Trojans.
The Ducks had a chance to narrow it before the half, but De'Anthony Thomas was out of bounds when he pulled down a Darron Thomas pass to the end zone. On the next play, James fumbled and the ball was recovered by USC.
James, who dislocated his elbow earlier in the season and missed two games, was hit in the arm on the play, and was holding the elbow as he was helped up by trainers.
The Trojans opened the second half with Andre Heidari's 26-yard field goal to make it 24-7, but Oregon again showed a flash of its usual speedy offense with a quick drive capped by Kenjon Barner's 10-yard touchdown run.
The Ducks, known for their second half adjustments, couldn't slow USC's momentum and the Trojans scored on the subsequent series with Marc Tyler's 3-yard run. Barkley added a 5-yard scoring pass to Randall Telfer to make it 38-14.
De'Anthony Thomas narrowed it again for the Ducks with a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and the Autzen Stadium crowd got back into the game with 3:28 left in the third quarter.
Barner had an 8-yard touchdown run to close the Ducks to within 38-27 with 12:44 left in the game. The Trojans ate a lot of time up with their next series, but Barkley was intercepted by John Boyett, putting the Ducks in business on their own 40. Oregon scored on James' 1-yard run, and the 2-point conversion was ruled good after review to make it 38-35.
Darron Thomas threw for 265 yards and a touchdown for the Ducks. Barner ran for 123 yards and two scores.
But USC still got its first victory in the state of Oregon since 2005.
The Trojans cannot play in the postseason because of NCAA sanctions. The league's southern representative is still up for grabs between Arizona State, Utah and UCLA.
There were cheers before the game started when NBA stars LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and several others showed up on the sidelines. James and Anthony even tossed around a football.
The players were have been working out at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., just outside of Portland.