Oregon Ducks Gameday: USC Preview

(4)Oregon vs. (17)USC

Saturday, November 3rd – at Los Angeles Memorial Stadium; Los Angeles, CA

Ducks: 8-0, 5-0 (1st in Pac-12 North) | Trojans: 6-2, 4-2 (1st in Pac-12 South)

  • Kickoff – 4:00 pm PT
  • Television – FOX
    Announcers: Gus Johnson (PxP), Charles Davis (commentary)
  • Radio – Oregon Sports Network (affiliate list)
    Announcers: Jerry Allen (PxP), Mike Jorgensen and Jay Allen (commentary) 
  • Weather – Mostly sunny/clear, 75-67 degrees (via AccuWeather as of Friday night)
  • Odds – USC is giving 7.5 points to Oregon at home and the total over/under is set 70.5 (via LVH as of Wednesday night)

Quick History

  • 59th meeting, USC leads series 38-18-2
  • Ninth straight meeting where both teams are ranked in AP Top 25 poll (Ducks are 3-5 during stretch)
  • Two years ago, Oregon came into LA undefeated and USC at two losses. Oregon won that game 53-32.
  • In Chip Kelly era, Oregon had 300 yards running in first two games they won. Last year, Oregon had 203 yards rushing in the loss.

Nov 19, 2011; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks running back De

It’s not this year’s “game of the century,” but it’s the biggest matchup in the Pac-12 yet this season.

Oregon comes into L.A. with a chip on their shoulder (no pun intended), not having the resume to beat out the other top three teams in the BCS rankings but many people expecting them to reach the national title game if they run the table.

[See also: Now the Real Season Begins]

It’s likely going to happen if it holds true. With three road games and three teams left that are ranked, plus another potential ranked opponent at home in the conference championship game, there’s not much either Kansas State or Notre Dame can do. The human polls still have Chip Kelly’s Ducks ranked number two even after the big upset against Oklahoma at Norman.

Sorry Fighting Irish, but that’s the last big victory if Oregon gets the job done at the Coliseum tonight.

With the running game facing it’s toughest challenge yet on defense, it will be up to the coaching staff and Marcus Mariota to balance out the offensive attack. Preparation is key for a game that will likely need a full 60 minutes from the starting lineup. That hasn’t been necessary in any game yet this season.

De’Anthony Thomas, or the Black Mamba as the kids call him, will likely be used more in a variety of ways on offense. Running back, slot receiver, wide out, possibly special teams…it will be interesting to see how Kelly implements the freakish athlete. He wasn’t a factor in the running game a season ago, but he had three receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown and a long 96-yard kickoff return that sparked a near-comeback late in the third quarter.

[See also: USC's Special Teams breakdown]

Injury Report

October 27, 2012; Eugene, OR, USA; Oregon Ducks cheerleader entertains at halftime against the Colorado Buffaloes at Autzen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-US PRESSWIRE

Luckily on defense, Dion Jordan is listed as “probable” after suffering a shoulder injury against Colorado. Jordan is second on the team in tackles for loss with 7.5 for 27 yards. Defensive back Troy Hill has missed the last two games and remains “questionable.” Hill has 20 total tackles on the year.

USC has quite the laundry list of injuries that have put even more of an impact in their depth, but the most important ones are listed this week. Curtis McNeal had concussion-like symptoms and missed the Arizona game, but he has been cleared to play against Oregon. Leading receiver Marqise Lee apparently is having academic problems, but he is still listed as “probable” for the game.

[See also: Three Biggest Storylines Going into LA]

Prediction

Oregon will finally get their chance to show people that they are legitimate, and they will have to do it against all the best run defenses in the conference. Pass defense, however, isn’t one of the Trojans strength. I expect Mariota to use his arm more in this game; Bralon Addison will need to be covered in the red zone, and expect the Black Mamba and Josh Huff to play a big role in the offense. If Kenjon Barner can get going early, this could be another big blowout early in the game.

Combine the offensive attack with a much-improved defense from a year ago, USC doesn’t match up well with a poor third down conversion rate. Mariota may get some butterflies early on and the team may sputter on offense early, but it won’t last long. Oregon will get comfortable and run their offense as they’ve had for the first eight weeks of the year. I expect the Ducks to pull away and hold onto the lead late.

Oregon 41, USC 27

[See also: Three Keys to Victory]

Take a look at our Q&A with Reign of Troy on the big showdown in L.A.

Brian Spaen is the lead editor for Autzen Zoo. See his banter with other FanSided writers and love for his favorite west coast professional teams by following him on Twitter.

Read his other work on the Iowa State blog, Clones Confidential, and Lacrosse the Web.

Topics: Football, Oregon Ducks, USC Trojans

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