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Kenjon Barner makes himself a Heisman candidate as Oregon makes it’s national championship case

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

Oregon running back Kenjon Barner made himself a household name during the No. 2 Ducks' 62-51 over No. 18 USC.

It's not like people didn't know him before -- he is one of the nation's most dynamic running backs -- but his accomplishments have often been muddled in the dizzying haze of Oregon's gaudy offensive stats.

But against USC, a game the Ducks needed to make a statement, Barner was at his best. He had 38 carries for a school-record 321 yards and five touchdowns. Barner broke the record of former star back LaMichael James, who was on the sideline for the game.

But was it enough to make himself a Heisman winner? Maybe not yet, but it definitely gets him high up in the conversation. Because Oregon's offense has so many weapons — namely quarterback Marcus Mariota and all-purpose back De'Anthony Thomas — it's easy for Barner's stats to get overlooked. Combine that with the lack of competition Oregon has played to this point and Barner will need to play this well throughout the rest of the season to make it to New York and fight for the bronze trophy.

But more important than individual awards, this was a game Oregon desperately needed. That cannot be overstated. The Ducks had been walloping opponents, which has impressed voters enough to make them No. 2 in the country, but it hasn't done much for the BCS computers. USC was the highest-ranked opponent the Ducks had faced and while the 62-51 shootout wasn't ideal, it was a still a statement that Oregon deserves a national championship spot.

The race for the top two spots in the BCS standings is going to go down to the wire and every little style point the Ducks can rack up will only help their cause.

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Video courtesy of The Big Lead

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