EUGENE, Ore. — As the T-shirts worn in Oregon’s student section proclaimed, it was Fright Night at Autzen Stadium.
It certainly was for USC.
Jeremiah Masoli threw for 222 yards and a touchdown and ran for 164 more yards with another score and the 10th-ranked Ducks trampled No. 4 Southern California 47-20 Saturday night, the Trojans’ worst loss since 1997.
“I don’t know if we made a statement, this is just what we planned on doing,” Masoli said. “If it makes a statement it makes a statement. That’s just Oregon football and how we roll.”
Redshirt freshman LaMichael James ran for 183 yards and a score as the Ducks (7-1, 5-0 Pac-10) racked up 391 yards on the ground against the Trojans, who came into the game with the fifth-best rush defense in the nation (79.9 yards a game).
USC’s defense yielded a total of 613 yards to Oregon.
“It was a real mess for us tonight,” said Pete Carroll, who was handed his worst loss as coach of the Trojans. “Oregon did everything that they wanted to do.”
Southern California (6-2, 3-2) had not lost a game by more than a touchdown since a 27-16 loss to Notre Dame in 2001, Carroll’s first season with USC. The last time the Trojans were so soundly beaten was 1997, when they lost 35-7 to Arizona State and 27-0 to Washington.
Oregon remained alone in first and undefeated in the Pac-10. USC has won or shared the last seven Pac-10 titles. That streak is in serious jeopardy. The Trojans’ run of seven straight BCS games is also in danger.
The Ducks are now poised to take the crown after stomping the longtime Kings of the West Coast.
Oregon fans were decked out in special black “Fright Night” T-shirts with a duck-and-crossbones motif to commemorate the Halloween night game — billed as the Pac-10’s biggest game of the season. Afterward the fans swarmed the field, while a ring of blue-jacketed security guards circled the goal posts.
The Ducks have won seven straight games since an embarrassing 19-8 loss at Boise State in the opener, a game that got uglier when running back LeGarrette Blount punched a Broncos defensive end as he was leaving the field.
Blount was suspended for the season and Oregon moved on without him. James was his replacement.
USC freshman quarterback Matt Barkley, who earlier this week predicted he would feed off Autzen’s deafening noise, completed 21 of 38 passes for 187 yards and two scores. He was intercepted once.
Barkley shrugged after the loss.
“The biggest thing is realizing that there’s nothing we can do about this loss,” he said.
Masoli completed 19 of 31 for Oregon, which had never before scored as many points against the Trojans.
“I was as relaxed as I’ve ever been in my career,” Masoli said. “Even me and LaMike break a couple jokes every so often. It feels great.”
USC went up 3-0 on the its first series of the game on Jordan Congdon’s 28-yard field goal. Oregon answered with Morgan Flint’s 32-yarder, but the Ducks had squandered their opportunity after Kenjon Barner’s 77-yard kickoff return.
Masoli scored on a 3-yard run to put the Ducks up 10-3 late in the first quarter. USC tied it with Barkley’s 3-yard pass to Ronald Johnson early in the second.
Oregon went ahead again on Andre Crenshaw’s 1-yard scoring run. And USC tied it again at 17 on Barkley’s 4-yard pass to Damian Williams.
Masoli found Jamere Holland with a 17-yard touchdown pass to put the Ducks back up 24-17 at the half.
From that point, USC couldn’t keep up.
After Oregon extended the lead with Flint’s 35-yard field goal, USC narrowed it with Congdon’s 39-yarder.
James scored on a 5-yard run and fellow redshirt freshman Kenjon Barner ran for a 3-yard touchdown to make it 41-20 at the close of the third quarter.
Flint had a pair of field goals from 22 and 23 yards out to pad Oregon’s lead in the fourth quarter.
“It was just an overloaded ballgame by them. Masoli was ridiculously effective,” Carroll said. “We really had our chances to make things happen but we couldn’t tackle them in the backfield. the runs that he popped whether scrambles or by design just broke our back. It was a very, obviously, difficult night.”
Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott, who was at the game, said he planned to stay in Eugene to meet with Blount and school officials over possible reinstatement.
Scott says he’ll meet with Blount, Oregon counsel, university president Richard Lariviere, athletic director Mike Bellotti and coach Chip Kelly and members of his staff.
He says the university has not made formal moves to reinstate Blount and his role “completely depends on the university and whether they want the penalty revisited.”
The Trojans have lost four straight in the state of Oregon.
“It was intense,” Oregon cornerback Talmadge Jackson said. “Halloween, USC, crazy night game, it was everything everyone expected it would be.”