USC Football: Oregon Pass Defense Will Expose Matt Barkley

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IOctober 30, 2012

Oct. 27, 2012; Tucson, AZ, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley (7) looks on during the first half against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

Last season, Matt Barkley threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns in USC's 38-35 victory over Oregon.

It was a crushing defeat to a Ducks team hoping to make it to the BCS Championship Game.

Then again, this isn't the same Oregon pass defense this season, nor is this the same Matt Barkley.

Barkley's brilliance was undeniable last season as the Trojans went on to a 10-2 overall record. He averaged 7.9 yards per pass attempt while tossing 39 touchdowns to seven interceptions.

On the other hand, while Barkley's yardage per attempt has been up this season, so have his interceptions. The senior has eight interceptions in eight games, including two in last week's 39-36 loss to Arizona.

That could be a problem against the Ducks this season, who have notched 14 interceptions (tied for sixth in the nation with Alabama) while allowing just 5.3 yards per pass attempt (tied for sixth with Florida).

OK, so Oregon hasn't exactly faced the most formidable passing games thus far. Still, Arizona State had a strong passing game coming into the matchup against the Ducks in Week 8 and the Ducks held quarterbacks Michael Eubank and Taylor Kelly to 5.8 yards per attempt while allowing two passing touchdowns and notching four interceptions.

The ball-hawking ability of Oregon this season is for real, that much is certain. Nine different Ducks have notched at least one interception, led by junior cornerback Avery Patterson, who has three picks (he's run two back for touchdowns).

With offenses as electric as Oregon's and USC's, this Pac-12 clash will come down to who limits the other team more. I expect the Ducks to limit Barkley enough to emerge victorious. 

Don't expect a repeat of last season's matchup.


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