Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Matt Barkley threw a pair of first-half touchdown passes and No. 16 Southern California held on for an unimpressive 17-14 triumph over Virginia.
Barkley connected on 20-of-35 passes for 202 yards, pedestrian numbers compared to his 257-yard, five-touchdown showing in a 49-36 win at Hawaii to open the season last week. The Trojans (2-0) were outgained, 340-329.
Marc Verica threw for 190 yards with a TD and an interception on 17-of-36 efficiency for the Cavaliers (1-1), who were coming off a win over Richmond. Keith Payne rushed for a score and ended with 57 yards on 12 carries.
Robert Randolph missed a 45-yard field goal on Virginia's opening possession, then the teams traded turnovers on consecutive touches. Shortly after Barkley lost a fumble at his own 32, T.J. McDonald picked off Verica in the end zone.
It stayed scoreless until late in the second stanza. After Verica was stuffed on 4th-and-1 from the USC 45, Barkley hit Robert Woods on passes of 12 and 40 yards to get down to the four. On the next play, the QB found Jordan Cameron in the left corner of the end zone for a TD.
Virginia responded with a six-play, 68-yard drive that Payne finished off with a six-yard run over the goal line with 1:14 remaining in the half.
That left plenty of time for Barkley to lead the Trojans back down the field, as he threaded an 11-yard scoring strike on the run to Brandon Carswell with just one tick to go before the break.
The offenses failed to build on those productive drives in the second half. The Cavaliers penetrated USC territory on their first possession, but a holding penalty and sack forced them to punt.
USC's Joe Houston was wide right on a 48-yard field goal try with just over four minutes left in the third, and the teams traded punts until Houston atoned for the miss by splitting the uprights with a 34-yarder with 5:52 to go in the contest.
A pair of USC penalties and a Tim Smith reverse for 19 yards quickly brought the Cavs down into the red zone, but the team gained just one yard on the next three plays.
With under four minutes to go, Randolph was short on his 34-yard field goal attempt, proving costly, as Verica connected with Kris Burd for a three-yard TD with four seconds left in the game to fall just short.
This was Virginia's first game in California...USC crushed Virginia by a 52-7 final during the 2008 campaign in the only previous meeting between the two programs...USC committed 13 penalties for 140 yards, compared to nine for 101 for Virginia...Perry Jones ran for 77 yards on 14 carries for the Cavs...Woods ended with 64 yards on three catches, while Ronald Johnson caught five balls for 58 yards for USC.