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To my USC readers: please stop reading right now. You are not going to like this slide.
Yes, USC is back! Matt Barkley, Robert Woods, Marqise Lee et al are a really great group of college football players. And, yes, USC did beat Oregon last year, at Autzen Stadium no less.
But there is some evidence that USC snuck up on Oregon last year and it is unlikely to happen again. Oregon was just coming off a tremendous high, having leveled a major beat down of previously unbeaten Stanford the week before.
Plus, the Ducks knew that USC was still on probation for breaking NCAA rules and, therefore, couldn't go anywhere important at the end of the regular season.
Matt Barkley had the game of his life last year. He might do it again in front of the USC faithful, but I think the Oregon defense will be ready for him this year.
While the teams, on paper, look evenly balanced, I believe it will come down to defense. And this year, I think Oregon will have the stronger defense.
I also think it's likely there might be a loud contingent of Oregon fans in the Coliseum to help the Ducks feel at home. This game will be hyped to kingdom-come if both teams are still unbeaten (I think they will be). Oregon has had more experience over the past three years handling the big-game hype than this group of Trojans, and it will benefit them.
Finally, Oregon is the three-time Pac-12 champion and holds that crown until someone takes it from them. It's not going to be USC, at least not this year.