6-Points: USC 42, Syracuse 29

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On a wet and wild night in New Jersey, USC moves to 2-0 with Pac-12 play on deck next week.

Click here for the recap and final stats.

Click here for the full press conference.

  • Woods-SYR-CS.jpgBirthday Boy - On his 22nd birthday, Matt Barkley tied his own school record with six touchdown passes in a single game.  The Heisman frontrunner now has 10 TD passes on the season, but he was limited to mostly underneath throws against the Orange.  "I did have to be patient with the ball," said Barkley, who completed 23 of 30 for only 187 yards.  The QB took blame for "a poor ball" on his first interception of the season, but he was all smiles after the game thanks to a team serenade of "Happy Birthday" in the locker room.

  • Reversal of Fortune - Lane Kiffin sparked the rushing attack by calling a pair of reverses for his star wideouts.  Marqise Lee picked up a 4th down conversion on a 23-yard run in the first half and then Robert Woods helped break the game open with a 76-yard scamper in the final quarter.  "That's part of the run game," said Kiffin about reverses.  "Our running game really complemented us today," Barkley praised the group which picked up 258 yards on 7.8 yards per carry.  Silas Redd enjoyed his first 100-yard rushing game as a Trojan.

  • Out of the Woods - While Marqise Lee owned the spotlight against Hawaii, Robert Woods was the main attraction tonight.  When Syracuse closed the gap to 21-16, Woods put the team on his back.  He finished the day with 10 catches (2 touchdowns), a 31-yard punt return and a 76-yard run.  "That's why we get guys like 9 and 2," Kiffin said about his dynamic duo.  "Robert really stepped up."  Lee was pretty good too with three more TD catches.

  • MetLife-Warning-SYR-CS.jpgKick It Up a Notch - In an atmosphere that lacked energy, the Trojans received an emotional lift from the special teams, which dominated field position thanks to three Kyle Negrete punts downed inside the 20.  And in the absence of PK Andre Heidari, walk-ons Alex Wood and Craig McMahon filled in admirably.  Wood, who joined the team during fall camp, is relatively new to football after converting from soccer in high school, but he drilled all six extra points.  "It was surreal walking out there, but once the ball got down, it was the same as practice," Wood said.

  • MetLife Madness - A severe weather warning forced play to be suspended for more than an hour leaving the Trojans stuck in the locker room and the fans seeking shelter in the concourse.  "We don't have a lot of delays from thunderstorms in Southern California," Barkley quipped. "I thought our guys responded well after that long delay."  The coaches actually enjoyed the extra time to prepare for the second half, while the players just tried to relax and preserve energy.

  • The Corners - The win was not without warts.  The defense wilted at times in the second half as Syracuse QB Ryan Nassib attacked USC's corners not named Nickell Robey.  "They did a good job on offense taking advantage of us on the outside," said Kiffin, who used Robey primarily in the slot.  The Trojans gave up 322 yards passing, and the head coach was most disappointed with the fade routes that got over the top of the secondary.

Two-point conversion...

  • X-Man - Xavier Grimble had only one reception, but he made it count.  The sophomore tight end broke four tackles and lost his helmet on a beastly 22-yard catch and run TD, which changed the momentum of the game for good.

  • Holmes Injury - Late in the game, senior captain Khaled Holmes was carted off with an apparent ankle injury.  If the center misses any time, redshirt freshman Cyrus Hobbi will take his place.  USC also played the entire second half without defensive ends Wes Horton and J.R. Tavai and WR George Farmer.
(Photos by Chris Sanchez) 

Here is Dion Bailey, who stuffed the stat sheet with 8 tackles (one for loss) and two interceptions...

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