If Arizona put up 39 points on the USC defense, how many will Oregon—the top-scoring team in the country—score against the Trojans?
And for that matter, can the Oregon defense withstand its first major test of the season and shut down the playmakers on USC's offense?
If you want a shootout, you'll want to be tuning in on Saturday night.
Of course, this game has serious implications for the BCS picture. An Oregon win keeps them in the running for a national championship, while a loss would make things very interesting in the race for the Pac-12 title. Remember, the Ducks still have to play Stanford and Oregon State.
I don't need to tell you why you should be watching this game, however. Outside of that little showdown in the SEC, this is the best game on tap this weekend. Let's take a closer look at what promises to be a fun contest.
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena and Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA
When: Saturday, November 3 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Listen: Oregon affiliates; ESPN LA (710 AM)
Betting Line: Oregon (-7.5), according to Bet Online
Oregon Injuries (via USA Today)
DB Troy Hill, Knee, Day-to-Day
USC Injuries (via USA Today)
T Aundrey Walker, Undisclosed, Day-to-Day
TE Christian Thomas, Hip, Day-to-Day
USC kept Oregon from a probable spot in the National Championship Game when they beat them 38-35 last November. This year, the Trojans have the chance to play spoiler once again. But the Ducks also have the chance to exact their revenge.
Oregon has continued to win yet has gone from No. 2 in the rankings to No. 4 given their strength of schedule (or lack thereof). But that changes this week. A win over USC will surely catch the attention of the voters, and a convincing win would likely bump them up the rankings.
Oh, and a loss pretty much ends their shot at a national championship. So yeah, the stakes are pretty high.
What They're Saying
Against Arizona, the Trojans were their own worst enemy, with five turnovers and 13 penalties. According to Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times, head coach Lane Kiffin took an interesting approach toward limiting the penalties this week:
With second-ranked Oregon coming to the Coliseum on Saturday, Kiffin showed his team video of every major Trojans penalty this season so that players could "see the magnitude of what these things do."
"That was basically our team meeting," said Kiffin, whose team has averaged a nation-worst 10.3 penalties a game. "We kind of talked afterward that, I think seeing all that together, that we're not protecting the team with our decision-making. There's some selfishness in there. And a lot of it is over-aggressiveness toward the opponent."
Meanwhile, Ricky Widmer of Sports Illustrated's Autzen Zoo says it's all about the running game for the Ducks:
The rushing game still fuels the Oregon offense. In the game against Colorado, the Ducks ran for 425 yards. Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas, and Bryan Bennett led the attack for Oregon. Barner led the team with 104 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns. Thomas was second in rushing yards with 73 on five carries and a touchdown while Bennett was third with 73 rushing yards on ten carries, but had three touchdowns. Oregon is currently fourth in the FBS with 2,645 rushing yards this season. If teams are going to let the Ducks run like this, there is no reason why they will not be undefeated this season.
Oregon Player to Watch: The Entire Offense
Seriously, you try to pick a player to highlight from this group. The Oregon offense is like Masaharu Morimoto running a sushi buffet—there's more good than you can possibly handle.
Running backs Kenjon Barner (974 rushing yards, 15 total touchdowns) and De'Anthony Thomas (717 yards from scrimmage, 8.6 yards per carry, 11 total touchdowns) are impossible to slow down.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota (1,482 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, five interceptions; 378 rushing yards, three touchdowns) is a dual-threat nightmare for opposing defenses.
Seven receivers have double-digit totals in receptions. In total, 10 different players have scored touchdowns for this Ducks' offense on the season. The Ducks come at you from every angle, and they come at you from those angles at breathtaking speeds.
Go ahead, focus on Barner, Thomas or Mariota—someone else will beat you while you're catching your breath. The USC defense should have fun trying to keep up with this unit.
USC Player to Watch: Matt Barkley, Quarterback
Let's be honest—if USC is going to compete in this game, it won't be because its defense totally slows down Oregon's offense. It will be because the USC offense keeps up.
And whether or not they can do just that falls on the right shoulder of Matt Barkley.
Barkley has been good this season, but he hasn't quite been Heisman good as many folks expected. He's thrown for 2,266 yards, 25 touchdowns and a 65.3 completion percentage, but he also has eight picks on the year and seems to receive mixed reviews after each game.
But he has the talent and receivers (more on that below) to ruin Oregon's season for a second consecutive year. Barkley will need to have a gem of a game, limiting his turnovers and torching Oregon's secondary down the field, and I certainly wouldn't put it past him.
Key Matchup: Marqise Lee and Robert Woods vs. Oregon's Secondary
Oregon may run the ball at will on most opponents, but few teams (if any) have as talented a pair of wide receivers as USC boasts in Lee and Woods.
Lee is having a huge year (76 catches for 1,129 yards and 10 touchdowns) and might be a dark-horse candidate for the Heisman if USC hadn't already dropped two games. Meanwhile, Woods is a devastating second option for Barkley, catching 55 passes this year for 585 yards and nine touchdowns.
If the Oregon secondary lets this pair get loose and beat them down the field regularly, USC not only will keep pace with the Ducks' electric offense, they might just win this game. The key to this game is on the outside for USC.
This is a well-rounded Oregon team, and the biggest difference from a year ago is that they play some defense. While USC will keep things close early, Oregon's playmakers and blistering pace will eventually be too much for USC's limited depth to handle. Oregon wins, 42-31.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are clutch like Romo. Sergio Romo, that is.
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