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USC vs. Minnesota: Trojans 32, Golden Gophers 21 (final)

September 18, 2010 |  1:00 pm

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A skeptic will note that Minnesota, a loser against South Dakota a week ago, led USC in the second half Saturday.

Anyone else will point out that the lead lasted all of 12 seconds.

That's how long it took freshman Robert Woods to return a kickoff 97 yards for a third-quarter touchdown. The return put USC (3-0) up 19-14 and the Trojans continued to run away after that, tacking on a 21-yard scoring reception by David Ausberry and a 56-yard touchdown run by Allen Bradford.

Minnesota made the score respectable on Adam Weber's 22-yard touchdown pass to MacQueis Gray, who got behind USC safety Drew McAllister, with 11 seconds left in the game.

It marked the second consecutive week that the Trojans' defense gave up a late touchdown to make the final score close. Last week, Virginia scored with four seconds to play.

Minnesota (1-2) struggled most of the game to move on offense. Before the final drive, the Golden Gophers had averaged 2.2 yards a run and 6.9 yards a pass.

Matt Barkley completed 16 of 25 passes for 192 yards and two touchdowns for USC. But the sophomore quarterback had two passes intercepted -- his first of the season.

A turnover also marred what otherwise was a breakout performance by Bradford, who ran for 129 yards in 13 carries one week after getting just three four-quarter carries against Virginia.

USC at least managed to cut down on penalties and costly mistakes. The Trojans were penalized a season-low seven times for 71 yards.

--Mike Hiserman

USC 32, Minnesota 14 (midway through fourth quarter)

Allen Bradford is making a case to be what he was at the end of spring practice and the start of summer training camp: USC's No. 1 tailback.

Bradford just scored on a 56-yard run to increase the Trojans' lead. USC once again failed on a two-point conversion try when Marc Tyler was stopped short of the goal line on a run up the middle.

Bradford has rushed for 129 yards in 11 carries. Tyler has gained 33 yards in nine carries and Dillon Baxter has 25 yards in six carries.

USC 26, Minnesoota 14 (early in fourth quarter)

The Trojans appear to be taking control.

Matt Barkley's 21-yard touchdown pass to receiver David Ausberry capped an 11-play, 88-yard drive that featured hard running by senior tailback Allen Bradford and a key third-down run by junior Marc Tyler.

Bradford has gained 75 yards in nine carries while rotating with Tyler and Dillon Baxter.

Barkley has completed 16 of 23 passes for 183 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

USC 19, Minnesota 14 (end of third quarter)

Senior tailback Allen Bradford is asserting himself and now has 71 yards in eight carries.

The Trojans are in the midst of a drive that has seen Bradford carry four times for 39 yards. They will start the fourth quarter with a first down at the Minnesota 37-yard line.

Matt Barkley is 15 of 21 for 162 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

USC 19, Minnesota 14 (late in the third quarter)

Freshman Robert Woods just returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown -- and USC failed on another two-point conversion.

The Trojans' first failed two-point try appeared to loom large when Minnesota receiver Da'Jon McKnight caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from Adam Weber to put the Gophers ahead, 14-13, with 5:47 left in the third quarter.

But Woods caught the ensuing kickoff near the right sideline, cut back across to the field and outsprinted the Minnesota coverage team to the end zone.

Barkley's pass to David Ausberry on the two-point try was broken up.

USC 13, Minnesota 7 (early third quarter)

Matt Barkley's passer rating is starting to suffer.

The sophomore just had another pass intercepted, this time by Gophers cornerback James Manuel.

Barkley is 14 of 20 for 158 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Minnesota has a first down at its own 35-yard line.

USC 13, Minnesota 7 (halftime)

USC quarterback Matt Barkley and Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber came into the game with no interceptions.

They ended their streaks on consecutive possessions late in the second quarter.

USC safety Jawanza Starling picked off a pass by Weber with 36 seconds left in the half.

But Starling's first career interception was wasted when Barkley's pass on first down was intercepted by safety Kyle Theret.

USC wasted an earlier opportunity when officials ruled that a punt by Jacob Harfman hit the foot of a Minnesota player and then was recovered by Michael Morgan, giving the Trojans a first down at the Gophers' 38.

But Barkley was sacked for 11 yards and the drive stalled, forcing a punt.

Barkley has completed 10 of 14 passes for 135 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Weber is three of eight for 49 yards with an interception.

USC 13, Minnesota 7 (early second quarter)

See what happens when there's no holding penalties?

Last week, USC had a long touchdown pass from Matt Barkley to Ronald Johnson nullified by one of its 13 penalties.

The Trojans just went ahead of Minnesota on a 53-yard touchdown pass from Barkley to Johnson.

No flags in sight.

Mitch Mustain came up short on a run on the two-point conversion try.

USC 7, Minnesota 7 (end of first quarter)

That sure looked like a tailback by committee.

The Trojans answered with contributions from Dillon Baxter, Allen Bradford and Marc Tyler.

Baxter ran the first play, Tyler the second and Bradford the third.

Bradford keyed the 13-play, 60-yard drive by rushing for 23 yards in two carries.

Matt Barkley's two-yard sneak on a fourth-and-one play from the five set up Tyler's three-yard touchdown run with 1:47 left in the quarter.

Minnesota 7, USC 0 (midway through first quarter)

On its second possession, Minnesota sure didn't look like a team that lost to South Dakota last week.

Quarterback Adam Weber completed a 37-yard pass to receiver MarQueis Gray to key a 69-yard, nine-play scoring drive.

A holding penalty against USC cornerback Nickell Robey on third and one from the eight-yard line kept the drive alive.

Running back DeLeon Eskridge finished it with a one-yard touchdown run with 7 minutes 15 seconds left in the first quarter.

USC 0, Minnesota 0 (early first quarter)

Not a terrific start for USC on offense.

The Trojans' defense forced Minnesota to go three and out, and then Matt Barkley completed a 23-yard pass to tight end Rhett Ellison on USC's first play from scrimmage.

But the drive stalled at the Minnesota 31-yard line and Joe Houston's 48-yard field-goal attempt was wide left.

Houston has made one of three field-goal attempts this season.

Pregame

It's about an hour before kickoff here at TCF Bank Stadium and the sun is out on a partly cloudy day.

The year-old stadium holds 50,805 but a recorded announcement repeated outside the gates indicates tickets are still available, so it probably won't be a sellout, especially with the first-place Minnesota Twins playing the Oakland Athletics in a day game at brand-new Target Field.

The atmosphere at the baseball game last night was about as good as it gets.

The new stadiums here offer quite a contrast to L.A. and the venerable Coliseum and Dodger Stadium.

--Gary Klein

Photo: USC quarterback Matt Barkley passes under pressure against Minnesota in the first half on Saturday. Credit: Andy King / Associated Press

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