A lot of people have doubted the Oregon Ducks since Boise State beat them the first week of the season. The subject has been beaten to death, resurrected, and beaten again.
Most have projected either losses, or close games in all of Oregon's games since. Well, what now?
A recap of how the Ducks dominated Washington Saturday.
First, the Ducks need to keep the rush defense consistent. Chris Polk had over 100 yards rushing. That just doesn't cut it. It wasn't even great runs, it was pathetic tackling. Oregon had Polk, and Locker behind the line several times and they somehow managed to rush for a first down.
If the Ducks have a prayer of hope of shutting USC and then OSU's Jacquizz Rodgers down, they better get it in gear.
Oregon's special teams dominates
Without Walter Thurmond around, Barner has stepped up big in special teams. He had some great runs on kickoffs. This isn't to mention Costa's fake field goal run for 20+ yards.
But in addition, the special teams defense was outstanding. That blocked punt for a touchdown? Incredible. I was worried for a second, but the point is they scored a touchdown.
Jeremiah Masoli is better than Jake Locker
A lot of people thought he would kill the Ducks. His stats?
Locker went 23-for-44, 266 yards, and two interceptions. Not exactly All- American quality.
He went 14-for-22, 157 yards, and a touchdown. He also added two touchdown runs accompanying his 54 yards rushing. Truly, he outplayed Locker (omitting the horrendous first quarter).
Also, reflect on this: It took the Huskies nearly 44 minutes to score a touchdown. In that time, Oregon had scored five.
LaMichael James is the workhorse for Oregon
He really is. James rushed for a school record for a freshman, 154 yards on 15 carries. Amazing. He busted out some big runs, and is looking better and better than LeGarrette ... who?
Oregon's defensive domination may be too much for USC
Oregon's blitz and zone mix, accompanied by some odd looking formations, made Locker all confused.
Now, Pete Carrol isn't new to playing in big games. Halloween is the biggest day of the year for Oregon, and other than Ohio State, it is for USC too.
Freshman Matt Barkley looked mediocre at best against Oregon State. If Oregon can pick up on what OSU did right, not make the same silly mistakes Oregon State did, they will pick up a win in the Autzen Zoo.
Throw in some of that defensive scheme that's been worked to perfection, and Barkley could be in for a long day.
Oregon State would have been leading the game most of the way through if not for some terrible penalty calls, fumbles, and miscommunications. OSU even picked off Barkley twice.
Penalties are a problem for Oregon
Nearly a football field of penalties were called against the Ducks Saturday. Outrageous. If they don't get this under control, Oregon could hand the game over to the Trojans without them having to do much of anything.
The Ducks don't have much miscommunication like Oregon State did. Fumbles, and bad playcalling are almost completely a thing of the past. Kelly did good running the speed, and power option plays multiple times.
I smiled as I thought of the good ol' days with Dennis Dixon and his duel tailback threat. That may very well be the case with Masoli, James, and Barner.
If they run the option and perform trick plays like they did against the Huskies, Oregon will beat USC.