The game had long since ended, yet the right-hand number on the scoreboard was still glowing, just below where the Olympic flame was still burning.
On this most scorching, chilling of nights, they looked identical.
the Coliseum? By a football team other than USC?
“We knew we had to get a stop, we had the attitude that we would get a stop ” said an exhausted T.J. McDonald.
Nine touchdowns? In front of more than 90,000 screaming fans? By the guys who were being screamed at?
“We just kept feeling, we'd make a stop, we'd make a play ” said a befuddled Lane Kiffin.
They didn't. They couldn't. For nearly four long hours, they wouldn't. With their once-proud defense decimated like Pop Warner kids playing against pros, the Trojans fell 62-51 to second-ranked Oregon in a breakneck game that can best be described in italics.
Huff catch, Barner run, Huff catch, Lyerla catch, Thomas catch, boom! OK, that was their scoring drive on their first possession, took barely a minute.
Barner run, Hawkins catch, Mariota run, Barner run, Barner run, Mariota run, Barner run, Huff catch, wham!
That was their next possession, a scoring drive that took about as long as it took you to read the previous three paragraphs.
The game was both breathtaking and bewitching, and will long be remembered by Trojans fans with a bit of pride and a heap of shame.
There was pride in an offense that attempted to match the Ducks blow for blow, with Matt Barkley jabbing for five touchdown passes and Marqise Lee reaching for a dozen balls and the Trojans slugging for 615 total yards.
But there was shame that the offense was given no choice.
“I felt we had to play perfect on offense and score every drive,” said Barkley, who was exactly right.
As I was walking back up to the press box after postgame interviews, a wide-eyed fan approached me and said, “I don't think anybody here has ever seen this before.”
He's also right. They haven't. The Trojans haven't allowed this many points or this many yards — 730 — in the history of a program that began playing football in 1888.
Of 14 Oregon possessions, only two of them ended because of USC, one punt and one lost fumble. Two more times, the Ducks were halted by the end of the first half and the end of the game. That's right, it was so bad, the clock stopped the Ducks as much as the Trojans.
It was so bad, Ducks running back Kenjon Barner ran right into the thick of the Heisman Trophy race after breaking the Trojans opponent rushing record in the third quarter while finishing with 321 yards and five touchdowns.
“Yeah, I'd have to say that was the best offense I've seen,” said McDonald. “I can't change that.”