Oregon Ducks vs USC: Battle of Quarterbacks to Decide Season


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24th USC takes on 23rd ranked Oregon Ducks in a game where both teams have identical records (7-3, 5-2 Pac-12). Oregon with a win and a Stanford loss to Cal would give them a chance to win the Pac-12 North. USC is currently first in the Pac-12 South. Many experts have the Trojans as the favorite in this game. Despite Oregon’s upset win over then ranked 7th Stanford last week 38-36, the Ducks have been playing well with Vernon Adams back at quarterback.

This is where the game comes down to the battle of quarterbacks. Cody Kessler leads the Trojans in his final season behind center. He has been having an up and down season, coming up big in games then falling apart in others. Kessler however has put up big numbers and is still one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12. He is 213 of 310 for 2,715 yards, 23 touchdowns and six interceptions. He is the reason many have the Trojans as the favorite it the matchup.

Kessler’s favorite target is Sophomore wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. The man who wears number nine has been having a great season with 63 receptions for 1,160 yards and 10 touchdowns. Whenever he is on the field you want to pay attention because at any time he could be going for six. His longest reception of the season is an 75 yard touchdown catch. In only his second season he is already a game changer, he can only get better. So Ducks fans will have to worry two more seasons about him having big games against Oregon.

On Oregon’s side of the ball Vernon Adams is providing leadership to a potent Ducks Offense. Adams is 107 of 177 on the season, for 1,673 yards, 16 touchdowns and five interceptions. The numbers don’t seem very big,  they would be bigger had he not been hurt. He however has been the reason for Oregon’s late season run for the Pac-12 North title, the upset of Stanford and a four game winning streak. The Oregon Ducks need another big game from Adams to beat one of their most heated rivals USC. Adams in the Ducks late season push has been able to extend plays that result in first downs and touchdowns. Had he been at hundred percent the Ducks might have a shot at the College Playoffs.

The Ducks have a Doak Walker semi finalist in Royce Freeman to lean on and take pressure off of Adams. Freeman is one the best running backs in the country, and has carried the team on his back during all their struggles. He has 210 carries, for 1,392 yards and 12 touchdowns. Once Freeman gets going, he opens up Oregon’s playbook for play action passes and option reads. Adams and Freeman play well together with a hurry up offense, they are one of the most dangerous offense’s in the country. If they can find chemistry again this game, USC is in big trouble as it doesn’t matter how much they score, Oregon will just out score them.

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In purely quarterback vs quarterback match-up Kessler wins how down, as an overall team Oregon is the better team. Adams no doubt would have bigger numbers had he been healthy all season. Oregon has a chance to win this if they keep mistakes down to minimum on the offense side of the ball. USC defense is like Oregon’s and shows up when it wants to. So expect a high scoring game with the Oregon Ducks winning 56-42. Game time start at 12:30pm on ESPN Oregon plays host.