USC was the team to beat over the last decade, right up until the end, when it was Oregon. Both teams look poised to start in the top 5. Both will have prolific offenses. Both should have defenses capable of being top-25 units.
I am sure most of you have heard it already, but I am going to put it out there again: the depth of USC is a question mark. They have returned to a high level of competition while having to deal with sanctions, loss of scholarships and postseason bans.
This is believed to be the first year the loss of scholarships could be felt. From the looks of things, what they are not getting in quantity they are making up in quality. The Trojans are still pulling in highly ranked recruits.
Matt Barkley has a chance to be the best quarterback in the country this year. And with receivers like Robert Woods and Marquis Lee, USC could be throwing all over the field. The defense didn’t lose a whole lot and because of that they will be a defense to be feared.
Oregon has won the last three conference titles. They are the last ever Pac-10 champions and the first ever Pac-12 champions. They lost their starting quarterback, who is one of the winningest quarterbacks to play at Oregon, though Darron Thomas had a controversial final year.
When injury struck, Bryan Bennett stepped up very well. The spring game gave way to more competition with the emergence of Marcus Mariota. Oregon will be in good hands with whoever wins the position.
Also gone is one of the conference's all-time best rushers. Yes, some will say he did it because of the system, but to deny that LaMichael James was one of Oregon’s best players would just be wrong.
They will miss him, but Oregon will still be in good hands with Kenjon Barner and DeAnthony Thomas toting the rock.
The defense is an enigma because they appear to be average, but they also face more plays than the average team. When you break things down they actually stack up alongside some of the top defenses in the country in many categories. Rumors out of the spring are that this could be one of the best defenses Oregon has ever had.
Call it a cop out if you want, but both teams have too much going for them along with just enough questions to where even I, an admitted Duck homer, really have to sit back and look at USC and be impressed.