Oregon Football: 4 Can't-Miss Matchups Against USC
Battle L.A. is no longer an action movie that flubbed at the box office.
The L.A. Coliseum will become a battleground more hotly contested than Ohio when the Oregon Ducks travel south to brawl it out with the USC Trojans to see who is the most dominant team in the Pac-12.
Everyone had Nov. 3rd circled on their calendars the minute Matt Barkley announced he was returning to USC for his senior season.
Tragically, with USC losing twice so far in the Pac-12, to both Stanford and Arizona, the game has lost some luster as a preview for the Pac-12 title game and to decide which team could possibly play in the national championship game.
Nonetheless, the Trojans and Ducks are going to treat this game the same as they would any other—a battle from start to finish that both teams must win.
Lee/Woods vs. Ekpre-Olomu/Mitchell
One of the top corners in the nation going up against one of the top, if not the top receiver.
Last season, the tandem of Woods and Lee torched the young, inexperienced Duck corners to score the upset against Oregon in Autzen Stadium.
This season, Ekpre-Olomu and Terrance Mitchell are much improved, and they have been able to shut down some of the Pac-12's best quarterbacks.
Matt Scott, now a dark-horse Heisman contender, was intercepted three times—twice by Ekpre-Olomu (including a pick-six)—against Oregon.
Keith Price was held to under 200 yards passing and was intercepted twice by the Oregon secondary while being held to zero touchdowns.
Taylor Kelly, the Pac-12 breakout player of the year in my mind, was intercepted twice by the Ducks despite playing in limited time.
While they have yet to see a wide receiver with the skill level that Woods or Lee have, with the exception of Marquess Wilson of Washington State, Oregon has done a great job at shutting down some great offenses.
Lee is coming off a great game—16 receptions for 345 yards and two touchdowns—against Arizona, but even with that performance, USC lost the game.
Keep your eyes on this one all night long.
Oregon Backfield vs. USC Defense
Yes, I am considering Marcus Mariota as a member of Oregon's backfield. His ability as a runner is that good and he is going to be the X-factor in this game.
The Trojans gave up a season-high 36 points to an Arizona Wildcat offense that runs a very similar style of offense to Oregon's, but with all due respect to Rich Rodriguez and Wildcat nation, Arizona can not even touch the Ducks when it comes to offense.
USC's defensive line was facing scrutiny heading into the season and their performance thus far has done nothing to help that. The depth issue means Oregon is going to come out running the ball, and running the ball fast to wear out the Trojans.
De'Anthony Thomas vs. TJ McDonald
De'Anthony Thomas returned to his normal form at the perfect time for the Ducks.
Thomas' big-play ability from any area of the field is going to be an invaluable advantage to Oregon, and his knack for getting into the open field to gain big chunks of yards means that safety TJ McDonald is going to be on "Thomas Watch" all night long on Saturday.
McDonald is the only thing holding this USC defense together, and I am fully expecting him to be leading the fight against the Ducks.
What is yet to be seen is how much fight he has in him.
Oregon Front Seven vs. USC Offensive Line
The success of Oregon's front seven has possibly been one of the nicest gifts that Duck fans received this season.
No longer is Oregon known just as an offensive firepower team, but now with this front seven putting such great pressure on opposing offenses, you see why the Ducks have only allowed 19.4 points a game and lead the nation in red-zone defense.
As of now, Dion Jordan is expected to play for the Ducks, and if not, Oregon has plenty of depth along the defensive line to get continued pressure on Matt Barkley.