On this date in Ohio State football: Sept. 12, 2009

Ray Stein
Buckeye Xtra
Cameron Heyward gets a hold of USC quarterback Matt Barkley in the third quarter. [File photo]

Taking a look back at a game Ohio State played on this date:

USC 18, Ohio State 15

Setup: Anxious times had officially arrived in the Jim Tressel era when No. 3 Southern California visited Ohio Stadium for a week 2 matchup in prime time. At that point, Ohio State had lost its past five games to top-10 teams, including two gut punches in BCS championship games after the 2006 and '07 seasons and a 35-3 haymaker from the Trojans the year before in the Coliseum. OSU fans were hoping — pleading, in fact — for a change of fortunes.

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Stars: Offensive fireworks were difficult to find on a night when the two defenses held sway, but the best quarterback on the field for sure was USC freshman Matt Barkley, who passed for 195 yards and displayed abundant leadership. OSU sophomore Terrelle Pryor, meanwhile, made a few decent plays but at least as many bad decisions. He finished with 177 yards passing and 36 rushing and a big frown on his face.

Turning point: Ohio State led 15-10 with 7:15 remaining when USC took possession at its 14-yard line — a first-and-10 that became a second-and-19 from the 5 after a sack and a false-start penalty. But Barkley hit Joe McKnight for 21 yards on third-and-8 and the Trojans were on their way, especially after Barkley bulled forward for a first down on a fourth-and-1 sneak. On the 14th play of the drive, Stafon Johnson scooted around right end untouched for a 2-yard scoring run with 1:05 left to give USC the lead and silence the raucous crowd. Barkley passed to McKnight for the two-point conversion to make it 18-15.

Impact: The Buckeyes again had failed in a big game, but they would lose only once more in the 2009 season, at Purdue, as Tressel loosened the reins on the offense. The six-game losing streak to top-10 teams ended in January when Ohio State pounded No. 7 Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

Quotable: "I knew our offense was going to score. We did struggle early on, but you've got to go in there with the mindset you're going to score. … I believed in it, believed in the play-calling, and when we punched it in, it was good to hear that silence." — Barkley, on the winning drive