USC vs. Oregon: Breaking Down Keys to Victory for Both Teams

Ryan DavenportContributor INovember 3, 2012

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback Matt Barkley #7 of the USC Trojans looks over the defense as Khaled Holmes #78 of the USC Trojans points out defenders in the fourth quarter of the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 19, 2011 in Eugene, Oregon. USC won the game 38-35. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Week 10 of the college football schedule is stocked with big-ticket matchups, and though the Alabama-LSU game will undoubtedly have the biggest impact on the next batch of BCS rankings, the USC-Oregon clash is a close second.

That's because despite the Trojans' crushing loss to Arizona in Week 9, No. 17 USC is more than capable of beating almost anyone, even the No. 4 Ducks (No. 2 in the AP Poll).

In fact, the last team to beat Chip Kelly's team was USC in November of 2011, when the Trojans upset the Ducks 38-35, but this Oregon squad is determined not to let that happen again.

With a win, the Ducks will almost assuredly move into the Top Three in the BCS rankings, but a loss would extinguish any chance Oregon has at a shot at a national title.

Heading into tonight's marquee game, here are the keys to victory for both the Ducks and the Trojans.



Continued Dominance on the Ground 

This season, no team in the nation has been able to keep up with the Ducks' vaunted rushing attack, and if they can continue that trend on Saturday, Coach Kelly's boys will remain undefeated.

Lead by Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas, who have combined for nearly 1,500 rushing yards through eight games, the Ducks' two-pronged ground game is a handful, especially when you have a quarterback like Marcus Mariota, who's capable of a 100-yard rushing performance when needed.

The Ducks' mark of 53.4 points per game ranks No. 1 in all of college football, and that's in large part due to Barner and Thomas' ability to consistently pick up big yardage on the ground.

If this game turns into a quarterback battle, USC's Matt Barkley has the tools to lead the Trojans to another upset at the Ducks' expense, but if Barner and Thomas deliver, Oregon will hand Lane Kiffin's squad its second consecutive loss.



Limit the Penalties, and Matt Barkley Outplaying Marcus Mariota

ESPN's preview of the game says it all:

The Trojans are the most penalized team in the nation with 10.3 per game.

"I'm open for any suggestions (on how to fix this)," Kiffin said. "I've tried it all."

Against the Ducks, the Trojans simply cannot afford to take that many penalties because an offense as high-powered as Oregon's will make them pay dearly.

Outside of that, USC's best hope at scoring an upset may depend on the performances of Matt Barkley and his talented tandem of wide receivers in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, who were unstoppable in the Trojans' stunning loss to Arizona last weekend.

Lee notched an otherworldly 345 yards receiving, while Woods registered 93 yards of his own, but it still wasn't enough to lift USC past the unranked Wildcats.

This week, the Trojans won't be able to keep up with the Ducks' running game, but if Barkley can match his 493-yard performance from last week, they'll have a shot at outgunning Oregon on the scoreboard.