It took three games, but USC Head Coach Lane Kiffin finally appeared to be somewhat pleased after a USC victory.
“It was good to get the win today,” Kiffin said. “I was pleased that we are 3-0 heading into conference play. I’m pleased with that.”
The Trojans’ remained undefeated with a 32-21 win over the Golden Gophers, thanks to a solid performance on the defensive side of the ball and some big plays by backup tailback Allen Bradford and freshman wide receiver Robert Woods.
Minnesota got on the board first, putting together a 61-yard drive that included a 37-yard pass from Adam Weber to MarQueis Gray. DeLeon Eskridge finished things off with a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Trojans tied the score on the next possession, getting a spark on the ground from Allen Bradford, who had gains of 11 and 12 yards on his first two carries, and Marc Tyler capped the drive with a 3-yard run to make it 7-7.
“I was just waiting for the opportunity to knock on my door,” Bradford said. “I continued to watch film and continued to study.”
Once again, Ronald Johnson supplied the fireworks in the passing game.
Matt Barkley hit the senior wideout in stride for a 53-yard score on a play-action pass early in the second quarter to give USC a 13-7 lead.
Barkley completed 17-of-26 passes for 192 yards with a pair of touchdowns on the day. He also tossed his first two interceptions of the season.
Minnesota capitalized on one of Barkley’s interceptions early in the second half, and reclaimed a 14-13 lead, when Adam Weber connected with Da’Jon McKnight for a 31-yard touchdown reception.
The touchdown pass was 56th of Weber’s career, which is a new school record.
Robert Woods responded by taking the following kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown that gave USC a 19-14 lead and shifted the momentum of the game.
“It picked us up, and it helped the team get going,” Woods said. “I knew I had it when I first hit the hole, from the first block you could tell it was open right away.”
Lane Kiffin added: “It gave us a lift there with the 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.”
USC relied heavily on Allen Bradford late in the third quarter and he responded with bruising runs that helped set up another score.
After a steady dose of Bradford and Dillon Baxter got the Trojans into Minnesota territory, Matt Barkley connected with David Ausberry for a 21-yard score to give USC a 26-14 lead early in the fourth.
Bradford then put the game out of reach by slashing through the defense for a 56-yard score to give the Trojans a 32-14 lead.
“The running game was on fire,” quarterback Matt Barkley said. “It is good to know that you can rely on a solid running game like we have.”
Bradford had a game-high 131 yards rushing on 12 carries in the victory.
While USC has three wins this season, the players and coaches finally had something to sing about.
“It does feel good to win like this and singing the fight song in the locker room was great.”
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