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(Saturday, September 8th)
Final Score: (2) Southern California 42, Syracuse 29
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Birthday boy Matt Barkley tied his own school record with six touchdown passes as the second-ranked USC Trojans posted a 42-29 victory over the Syracuse Orange at MetLife Stadium.
Barkley, who turned 22 on Saturday, was the pilot of a high-flying USC (2-0) offense, completing 23-of-30 passes for 187 yards with one interception.
Trojan receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods combined for 21 receptions, 159 yards and five scores, while Penn State transfer Silas Redd paced the ground attack with 107 yards on 15 carries.
Ryan Nassib finished with 322 passing yards, two touchdowns -- he added another score on the ground -- and two interceptions for Syracuse (0-2), which suffered its seventh straight loss.
"I thought our kids went out there and competed," said Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone. "I feel very good about the direction we are going. We worked extremely hard. We had a good opportunity. There were some opportunities out there that if we could just make one play here or there and it could really change it. We were in it. We felt we were in this football game."
There was a 70-minute weather delay prior to the start of the third quarter. When play resumed, USC's Dion Bailey recorded his second interception of the game, securing a tipped pass on the third play of the second half.
The Trojans cashed in on the turnover as Woods hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass on third down, making it a 21-3 game.
Syracuse responded with a 78-yard drive and Nassib capped the 12-play march with a short toss to Marcus Sales in the end zone.
Barkley was picked off on the first play of the ensuing series and the turnover led to an 8-yard touchdown run by Prince-Tyson Gulley, who had converted a 3rd-and-short earlier in the drive with an 18-yard gain. The Orange trailed 21-16 with 3:42 remaining in the third quarter after a failed two-point conversion.
Syracuse appeared to gain more momentum by forcing USC to punt on its next possession. But the Orange went 3-and-out and a 31-yard punt return by Woods early in the fourth quarter placed the ball at the Syracuse 22. After throwing a pair of incompletions, Barkley hit Xavier Grimble, who shrugged off a trio of defenders before racing to the end zone.
"That was a perfect example of a guy who never stopped running," Barkley said. "He got contact, but kept his legs moving."
The dynamic duo of Woods and Lee highlighted the Trojans' next series as the former broke off a 76-yard run and the latter finished the drive with a 4-yard TD catch.
Nassib threw another touchdown pass to Sales and ran for a score later in the fourth. In between, Barkley and Lee hooked up for a third touchdown.
"We have one of the most explosive offenses in the country," Bailey said. "And they exploded in the second half like we thought."
The Trojans gambled on the game's first drive, opting to keep the offense on the field on a 4th-and-1 from their own 42-yard line. Syracuse's defense stuffed Soma Vainuku for no gain, but its offense couldn't capitalize on the short field.
Lined up in a shotgun formation on 3rd-and-1 at the 33, Nassib was under pressure as he rolled to his left. Nassib avoided being sacked by throwing on the run, but he was picked off by Bailey.
USC went for it again on fourth down on the ensuing series and converted this time as Lee scampered 23 yards on a reverse. The drive, though, stalled at the Syracuse 25 and the Trojans wound up turning the ball over on downs when Barkley's pass fell incomplete.
The Orange advanced the ball to the USC 32 on their next drive -- aided by a defensive pass interference penalty on third down -- before punting the ball back.
The Trojans' offense began to get some traction early in the second quarter, orchestrating a four-play scoring drive. Runs of four, 16 and 22 yards by Curtis McNeal set up Barkley's 13-yard touchdown pass to Lee.
Woods then made an impressive grab along the far sideline with a defender on him for a 29-yard touchdown two possessions later.
Syracuse got on the board as Ross Krautman kicked a 37-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. On the previous play, USC cornerback Brian Baucham had broken up Nassib's pass to Jeremiah Kobena in the end zone.
The game was dubbed as the inaugural New York's College Classic ... USC played in the state of New Jersey for the fourth time and first since 2000. The three previous games were played in Giants Stadium ... The Trojans have won all four meetings with Syracuse.
09/08 22:13:41 ET
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