The USC Trojans have a marquee matchup awaiting them against Oregon in Week 10. To get there, they’ll need to travel to Tuscon and take on the dynamic offense of Rich Rodriguez’s Arizona Wildcats.
It’s a trap game if ever there’s been one for the Trojans. If they survive, their matchup versus Oregon will determine their Pac-12 championship and BCS bowl fate.
In recent series history, the Trojans have dominated, winning the last five and nine of 10 matchups in Tuscon.
They’ve got some added motivation this time around. After coming off of two consecutive seasons with no bowl eligibility, this is a huge two-game stretch for the Trojans’ football program.
Arizona, on the other hand, is playing some of its best football. They’re coming off of a 52-17 shellacking of the Washington Huskies who are one-week removed from giving the Trojans a run for their money at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
But for all of the pizazz of the Wildcat offense in Arizona, they haven’t faced a defense like that of the Trojans. Despite their struggles, the hard-nosed and physical defensive unit is ranked No. 18 in scoring defense, allowing just 16.7 points per contest.
They’ve yet to face an offense like Rich Rod’s, though. Containing and defeating the spread-option and Wildcat formations that will be thrown at them will be a victory in itself and help prove their ability to do so.
It’ll definitely boost confidence for the defense in the locker room as they prepare to host the Ducks at the Coliseum next week.
However, it won’t be much of an indicator of how they will perform against Oregon because the Ducks run a much better version of the spread with a much better complement of athletes in the integral skill positions.
Then, there’s the Matt Barkley-led USC offense that will be asked to execute against a very suspect and pass-susceptible Wildcats defense. Last week, Barkley became the leading passer in USC history with a six-touchdown performance against Colorado.
This week he’ll take his pro-style offense equipped with multiple weapons into a hostile environment and annihilate the competition, thus building momentum heading into next week’s showdown with Oregon.
The Ducks are on the pond. Well, they will be soon.
Your move, USC.
Mike Hoag Jr. is a B/R Breaking News Team writer and covers the NFL, NCAA Football and the Cleveland Browns for the site. Follow him on Twitter for analysis and updates on the latest news and happenings in the sports world.