National title hopes crushed, Ducks move on

EUGENE — Following the lead of pragmatic coach Chip Kelly, the Oregon Ducks quickly put their loss to USC behind them and looked forward to the finale against Oregon State.

Any chance of a repeat appearance in the BCS championship game is gone, but the Ducks still need a victory in the annual Civil War rivalry game to clinch the Pac-12 North and host the league's inaugural championship game.

A victory there, and it's on to the Rose Bowl.

"Our plan and what has made us so successful in the last couple of years doesn't change," Kelly said following a 38-35 loss to the Trojans on Saturday night.

As a result, Oregon (9-2, 7-1) fell five spots in the AP Top 25, from fourth to ninth.

In the latest BCS standings, the Ducks fell from fourth to 10th.

There were hopes before the game that, if everything went their way, the Ducks could vie for another national championship berth. Then-No. 2 Oklahoma State fueled that optimism after losing to Iowa State 37-31 on Friday night.

The Ducks, who were bunkered in the team hotel before facing the Trojans, watched the Cowboys' loss and celebrated afterward. Receiver Josh Huff suggested that perhaps his team got too cocky.

"I was hearing about it and our players were running around in the hallway, but I was laying in bed," he said. "I was really upset with them because we had a big game (against USC) and they weren't acting like they were ready for a game."

Oklahoma State dropped from No. 2 to No. 5 after the loss. LSU, which beat the Ducks in the season opener, remained No. 1 in the AP poll, followed by Alabama and Arkansas.

The Trojans moved up in the rankings from 18 to 10. USC (9-2, 6-2), with the best record in the Pac-12 South, cannot play in league championship or a bowl game because of NCAA sanctions.

"We need to move on and put this behind us," said Ducks running back Kenjon Barner, who ran for 123 yards and two scores against the Trojans. "We shot ourselves in the foot when we shouldn't have. It stings a lot."

The Ducks trailed 38-14 in the third quarter but rallied to come within 38-35 with 7:05 left on LaMichael James' 1-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Matt Barkley led the Trojans on a drive to the Oregon 15, but on the next play tailback Marc Tyler fumbled and the Ducks took over.

Oregon's march downfield stalled on the USC 25 with 5 seconds left in the game. Alejandro Maldonado's 37-yard field goal to tie it went wide left and preserved the Trojan victory.

Maldonado buried his face in his hands after the miss.

The loss snapped a 21-game winning streak for Oregon (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) at Autzen Stadium, which was the longest in the nation. It also stopped a 19-game winning streak in conference games.

Barkley threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns, prompting praise from Kelly, who said the junior quarterback was the best Oregon had faced all year.

A week before, Oregon had visited Stanford and Heisman-hopeful quarterback, Andrew Luck, and came away with a 53-30 win — which had also boosted the Ducks hopes for an appearance in the national title game in New Orleans on Jan. 9.

Stanford, ranked No. 4 in Sunday's AP poll, defeated Cal 31-28 victory in the Big Game on Saturday, preserving a chance at the Pac-12 championship as the North's representative — should Oregon lose to the Beavers in the regular-season finale.

Kelly maintained after the loss that it should have never come down to a game-tying field goal.

"I told our guys I was proud of their effort, but against a good football team we can't make the mistakes that we made," he said. "We have to clean that up. But the great thing about this game is that we have another shot. We have to come back."

The shot comes on Saturday against the Beavers (3-8, 3-5 Pac-12), who defeated Washington 38-21 in Corvallis this weekend.

The Ducks beat Oregon State 37-20 at Reser Stadium last season in route to the national championship game against Auburn. It was Oregon's third straight victory in the Civil War rivalry game, which dates back to 1894.

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