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ROSE BOWL FYI

Kenjon Barner is the lone bright spot for Oregon

While other Ducks are kept in check, the freshman return man from Riverside proves tough to stop.

January 02, 2010|By Mike Hiserman

Ohio State put the clamps on Oregon's run-and-fun offense throughout Friday's Rose Bowl, but there was one player the Buckeyes never got a handle on -- Kenjon Barner, a redshirt freshman from Riverside Notre Dame High.

Barner ran for 64 yards in seven carries, caught a 13-yard pass, returned a punt for 28 yards and took back four kickoffs for 122 yards, including a long of 39 yards.

Barner was a star running back in high school, but Oregon recruited him as a defensive back.

He was switched to offense last spring -- at first on an experimental basis.

"It only took a couple of plays when I knew he wasn't going back," Oregon Coach Chip Kelly recalled.

Beyond Barner, Oregon's potent offense, which came in averaging nearly 38 points a game, didn't do much. The Ducks were held to a season-low 81 yards passing and their 260 yards of total offense was their lowest since they had 152 in a season-opening loss at Boise State.

"You know, the great thing about tonight, and I know there's a lot of negatives about tonight," Kelly said, ". . . but I get to spend three more years with Kenjon."

Pac sacked

Oregon's loss left Pacific 10 Conference teams with a 2-5 record in bowl games.

Last season, conference teams were 5-0.

The league's only two victories this season: USC over Boston College in the Emerald Bowl and UCLA over Temple in the EagleBank Bowl. Oregon State, Arizona, California and Stanford lost their bowls.

Senior moment

Ohio State's senior class finished with a record of 44-8, a school-record number of wins. The Rose Bowl victory was also the group's first bowl victory after losses in three consecutive Bowl Championship Series games.

"It was pretty surreal," senior linebacker Austin Spitler said of mounting the platform to accept the Rose Bowl trophy. "It's been so long since we've won that big game."

Added senior defensive tackle Doug Worthington of his career: "It's a blessing. I can't say no more. We never lost to Michigan. We won a Rose Bowl. I mean, what else can you ask for?"

Kicking themselves

Oregon's decision to try a field goal on a fourth-and-one situation when trailing by nine points with about five minutes left prompted some questions after the game.

Morgan Flint missed from 44 yards out and Ohio State ran out the clock.

Kelly's logic: Either way, Oregon needed two scores.

The thinking was seconded by Ohio State's Jim Tressel.

"They figured, 'Why not get it now?' " Tressel said. "It looked like a sound decision, but when you miss that, it really puts the pressure on."

Flint had made 13 straight field goals, 16 of 18 this season and 23 of 27 in his career, but his long was 43 yards.

His kick had plenty of distance, but was wide right.

Big as ever

Kelly, who lost out to Ohio State trying to recruit Terrelle Pryor out of high school:

"When I saw him in high school he was a man amongst boys, and at times tonight he looked like a man amongst boys. He's a lot bigger, stronger and more physical. He looks like a defensive lineman."

Fly over

Twice during the game a plane swooped low over the field, from north to south.

A private jet violating airspace laws?

Not according to a Pasadena police spokeswoman Janet Pope Givens, who said the aircraft was an Environmental Protection Agency plane taking air samples as part of a routine preventive safety check. Other federal agencies also had crafts hovering over the stadium, she said, but at higher altitudes.

Etc.

Ohio State ran 89 plays, the third most in Rose Bowl history, while Oregon's 53 were the eighth fewest. . . . Ohio State kicker Devin Barkley tied a game record with three field goals. . . . Oregon defensive end Kenny Rowe, a junior from Long Beach Poly High, tied a Rose Bowl record with three sacks and was voted the game's top defensive player. . . . LaMichael James had his streak of 100-yard rushing games snapped at seven, but he still led Oregon with 70 yards rushing in 15 carries.

mike.hiserman@latimes.com

Times staff writers Kevin Baxter and Anna Gorman contributed to this report.

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