Kenjon Barner and the Oregon Ducks have a critical match-up with USC this weekend.
When the latest BCS standings came out, Oregon had kept steady at No. 4 despite a 70-14 win over Colorado.
Fans of the Ducks are worried that the powerhouse's national title hopes are in jeopardy due to a soft schedule. It looks even more dire after the losses that USC and Oregon State suffered this weekend. Those are two schools Oregon needed to win so that they would still be relevant when they matched up against the Ducks.
All things considered, though, all hope is not lost.
Oregon has a critical game with USC this weekend and a win could vault them up the standings. If the Ducks come out and dominate, it could change the polls because USC is still a very good team despite having two losses.
A big win could be all the Ducks need to take the next step and move to the top of the polls.
Sophomore cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu has had a superb year for a great Ducks defense.
You probably think that the Ducks are all about offense, which is true to an extent. Oregon leads the nation in scoring with 53.4 points per game—but it's the defense that has really turned this team from an up-tempo fireworks show to an explosive juggernaut on both sides of the ball.
Oregon's defense only allows 19.4 points per game and has been totally lost in the shuffle. Aside from a game against Washington, they haven't really given up a meaningful touchdown all year.
In what was supposed to be the Ducks' toughest matchup against Arizona, the defense held the Wildcats to zero points, or 32 below Rich Rodriguez's squad's season average.
USC is as powerful on offense as any team in the nation. Matt Barkley, Silas Redd and Marqise Lee are often unstoppable when they get in a rhythm. If the Oregon defense can stifle the Trojans' stars, it can prove to the nation that the team in Eugene is not a one-trick pony.
Kenjon Barner has been the surprise threat in the backfield, picking up chunks of yardage every time he touches the ball.
No team jumps on you and kills all hope like Oregon does. The Ducks are masters of taking down a team in the first five minutes and never looking back. Look no further than a recent game against Arizona State, where the Ducks grabbed a 43-7 halftime lead and didn't even have to score in the second half.
Oregon plays the game so fast that it's hard to gain any momentum against them early. And if you get a lead, it doesn't matter because Chip Kelly's squad will just march right back down the field and score. Then they'll do it again. And again. And again.
The Ducks will jump out to a huge lead against USC this weekend. I don't care who they're playing, there are only a few defenses in the country that can combat their offensive ability, and USC isn't one of them.
Expect the score to be somewhere in the 35-14 range at the half, with Oregon leading comfortably.
Freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota has been instrumental in leading the Ducks to an 8-0 record.
If there's something against Oregon in the polls, it's the lack of a legitimate opponent on their schedule. Their only ranked opponents were Arizona and Washington, hardly teams that are dominant.
Even though USC fell out of the top 10 this weekend, the Trojans are still the biggest threat thus far on Oregon's schedule. Add in the fact that this game is on the road and you have the makings of a very tough football game.
It doesn't matter how good of a team you are—going to Pasadena is tough and always will be. The Trojans are comfortable at home and that crowd is crazy.
There is no team that is as much of a threat to go on the road and score 60 points than the Ducks. Oregon will win handily in USC's own backyard, finally showing the polls that they belong on top of every other team in the nation.