The state of Oregon is known for it's unrelenting liberalism, it's gorgeous coastline on the Pacific Ocean, it's example-setting environmentalism, and it's quality of life.
But the state of Oregon should also be known for one other thing: its hostility towards the USC Trojans.
The Trojans have experienced extreme difficulty in terms of playing football in the state of Oregon in recent years.
In fact, the Trojans are riding into Eugene, OR for this weekend's marquee matchup with the Oregon Ducks on a three-game state-of-Oregon losing streak.
Three years ago, the Oregon State Beavers upset the Trojans in Corvallis, ending their BCS title dreams.
The following year, the Trojans rode into Eugene for a top-10 matchup with the Oregon Ducks, and left Autzen Stadium that day with a 24-17 defeat.
And finally, this past season, the Oregon State Beavers recreated another rendition of the "giant killers" game, upsetting the No. 1 ranked USC in Corvallis.
Much has been said of the Trojans' ability to prepare for "the games that matter." Unfortunately, much has also been said of their inability to prepare for the little games as well.
This was evident in the Trojans' conference opening matchup against the rebuilding Washington Huskies earlier this fall.
The Trojans were without starting quarterback Matt Barkley, who had sustained a knee injury. However, backup quarterback Aaron Corp could start for most other Pac-10 teams.
The Trojans came into the game overconfident, and thus walked out of an erupting Husky Stadium with a 16-13 loss to the Huskies.
Since then, the Trojans have rebounded quite well, riding on a four-game winning streak.
All eyes will be fixed on Autzen Stadium this weekend as the No. 10 Oregon Ducks host the No. 5 USC Trojans.
Both teams hold an overall 6-1 record, however Oregon remains the only unbeaten team in Pac-10 conference play.
There are three games to compare the Ducks and Trojans, as they have faced three common opponents: the California Golden Bears, Washington State Cougars, and Washington Huskies.
Looking at how both teams played against the Golden Bears, Oregon comes out as the stronger of the two teams.
Both teams held the Golden Bears to just a field goal scoring wise. But that is where the similarities end.
The Ducks put up 42 points and 524 yards of total offense on the Golden Bears compared to the Trojans' 30 points and 457 yards of total offense.
The Ducks held the Golden Bears to 15 first downs, and 207 yards of total offense. The Ducks also did not allow the Golden Bears to convert any fourth down attempts.
The Trojans held the Golden Bears to 17 first downs, and 285 yards of total offense. Like the Ducks, the Trojans also did not allow the Golden Bears to convert any fourth down attempts.
Simply put, the Ducks outperformed the Trojans on both offense and defense against a common opponent.
Moving onto the differences between the Washington State games, the Ducks again outperformed the Trojans on both offense and defense.
The Ducks put up 31 first downs and 514 yards of total yards of offense against the Cougars, compared to USC's 14 first downs and 403 total yards of offense.
In fact the Washington State Cougars outperformed the Trojans in one category: first downs. The Cougars gained 18 first downs to the Trojans' 14.
On defense, the Ducks held the Cougars to only 158 yards, while the Trojans gave up 229 yards.
Against the Huskies, both the Ducks and Trojans had fewer first downs than the Huskies. In fact, Oregon's and Washington's offenses both gained about the same yardage.
And yet, Washington scored only six points. Yes, the final score showed that the Huskies scored 19 points, but 13 of those came during garbage time, when the Ducks played their second and third team defenses.
This proves how efficient of an offense Oregon has. They did a whole lot more with the yards they gained than Washington did.
So, after comparing all the common ground games between the Ducks and Trojans, the Ducks appear to have a big advantage coming into Saturday's nationally televised game.
But if there is one thing that Oregon cannot afford to do, it is becoming overconfident. And that is something that Chip Kelly will not let his team become.
A telling sign of this came during Oregon's team meeting before practice on Monday. Chip Kelly gathered his team in the locker room and said "Congratulations men. You are now ranked 10th in the BCS poll."
Not a single player clapped. The Ducks could care less about national recognition and the spotlight. They just look forward to each and every game, and with an extreme focus and intensity that I have yet to see matched.
Oregon needs to cut down on the amount of mistakes they made last weekend. The nine penalties were the most that they've committed all season.
The keys to an Oregon victory are as follows: Continued strong play from the offensive and defensive lines, and the offense coming out firing.
The Oregon State Beavers showed that the armor of the USC defense has more than a few chinks in it. Oregon needs to capitalize on these chinks.
I believe that Oregon can, and will, win this game. Matt Barkley has been to some pretty tough houses this season and come away victorious.
The Horseshoe in Columbus, as well as Notre Dame Stadium, are tough places to play.
But Barkley will face his toughest test to date this Saturday. Autzen Stadium on Halloween night, combined with a forecast that predicts pouring down rain and cold temperatures could prove too much for the young quarterback.
It's going to be a great game.
LET'S GO DUCKS!
Oregon Ducks: 30
USC Trojans: 27
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