While quarterback Bo Nix believes No. 6 Oregon’s offense is among the nation’s best, he’s still wary of this final stretch of the season.
Nix threw for 412 yards and four touchdowns and No. 6 Oregon held off a late USC rally for a 36-27 victory on Saturday night, effectively eliminating the Trojans from contention for the Pac-12 championship game.
“I just think we’re still putting things out there to where we can be even better,” Nix said. “I think that’s the part that keeps you coming back on Monday and making you go back for another week, because we know we’re not there yet. One of my biggest fears is that we’ll become complacent. So we just have to do a really good job of finding ways to grow.”
Tez Johnson caught seven passes for 126 yards and two scores, and Oregon racked up 552 yards in total offense. It was the fourth straight win for the Ducks (9-1, 6-1 Pac-12, No. 6 CFP), who are undefeated at home.
Caleb Williams threw for 291 yards and a touchdown, and ran for another score. USC (7-4, 5-3 Pac-12) has lost four of its last five games after winning their first six.
Austin Jones scored on an 13-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter to get the Trojans within 36-27 with 3:44 left, but the two-point conversion failed and USC couldn’t get closer.
“We knew they were dangerous and had the ability to come back, so I don’t thing anybody felt relaxed,” Oregon coach Dan Lanning said. “Disappointed a little bit with our finish, because I think we’re a much better team than we showed down the stretch.”
The Trojans fell out of the AP’s Top 25 for the first time in coach Lincoln Riley’s tenure after a 52-42 loss to No. 5 Washington last weekend. USC has one game remaining next weekend against UCLA.
Led by Nix, Oregon is playing arguably its best stretch of the season after a humbling 36-33 loss to the Huskies on Oct. 14. Oregon’s fifth-year senior has climbed into the Heisman conversation with 29 passing touchdowns and five scoring runs. He’s only been intercepted twice.
Nix went into the game with a 78.1 completion percentage and was on pace to break the NCAA record of 77.4, set by Mac Jones at Alabama in 2021.
“I have nothing to do with that,” Nix said about the Heisman chatter. “All I can do is go out here and be efficient and win games.”
With just one loss, Oregon sits just below the undefeated Huskies in the conference standings with two games left — next week at Arizona State and back home over Thanksgiving weekend against rival Oregon State.
It was USC’s first game since firing defensive coordinator Alex Grinch on Sunday. The Trojans gave up 52 points and 572 yards in the loss to the Huskies. Defensive line coach Shaun Nua and inside linebackers coach Brian Odom were named USC’s co-defensive coordinators for the rest of the season.
Adding to the defensive woes were injuries. Linebacker Eric Gentry, nickelback Jaylin Smith and cornerbacks Ceyair Wright and Jacobe Covington were all absent.
“Tonight they were a deeper football team. I thought tonight they played better on the lines of scrimmage than we did. We got some good shots in there, but there’s some depth issues that showed up,” USC’s Riley said. “We’ve got to continue looking big picture, we’ve got to continue to make gains. We know that.”
Oregon scored on its first series of the game. Nix found Johnson who spun off a defender and dashed down the field for a 77-yard reception. Johnson had 12 catches for 180 yards and two scores last week in the Ducks’ 63-19 rout of California.
The Trojans’ answered with MarShawn Lloyd’s 5-yard scoring run before Nix combined with Troy Franklin for an 83-yard TD reception. Nix’s third touchdown of the night came on a 15-yard pass to Terrance Ferguson. The two-point conversion failed.
Camden Lewis made a 33-yard field goal to pad the Ducks lead but Williams scored on a 2-yard keeper for the Trojans to make it 22-14 at halftime.
Johnson, who was taken in by Nix’s family as a teenager, added a 21-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.
Oregon running back Bucky Irving appeared to injure his left ankle in the third quarter, but he was treated on the sideline and returned a short time later and ran for a 19-yard touchdown early in the fourth.
Franklin caught two passes for 147 yards and a TD. Irving finished with 118 yards rushing.
Williams threw a 9-yard TD to Brenden Rice in the fourth quarter to close the gap to 36-21.
USC: Lloyd returned after missing last week’s game against the Huskies with an undisclosed injury. He leads the Trojans with nine touchdowns this season. … USC was flagged in the fourth quarter for using disconcerting signals.
Oregon: It was the first time since 2015 that USC had played at Autzen Stadium. … Oregon Heisman winner Marcus Mariota (2014) was at the game. … Oregon had 330 yards of offense in the first half alone. … The Official attendance: 59,957.
USC: Hosts rival UCLA on Saturday in the final game of the season.
Oregon: Visit Arizona State on Saturday.