Oregon's Defense Impresses the Nation, Could Prove Too Much for USC

Caleb M.Analyst IOctober 29, 2009

During the game against Tennessee in which Alabama almost lost, Sports Illustrated was asked this question:

"Is this the least impressive set of BCS title contenders you have ever seen?"

It's true. When you think about it, there is no clear dominating team. Everyone in the top 10 has a shot at getting there. So many teams are making inexcusable, silly mistakes that most teams don't look like championship contenders.

Florida certainly added to the cause the way they played against Mississippi State. Then there is Iowa barely defeating Michigan State, and Boise State has gotten worse and worse ever since the Oregon game—not to mention USC's disappointing win over Oregon State.

Now people are recognizing and considering talent like Oregon, TCU, and Georgia Tech for BCS games. Honestly, Texas and Cincinnati are the most impressive to me thus far. 

If you read my article about how Oregon could be headed for the national championship, do you believe me now? Perhaps after the Ducks beat USC you will. 

Oregon is a top 10 team now. Florida, Boise State, Iowa, USC, and even Alabama last week did not play like championship-caliber teams. I mean honestly, they didn't.

But how 'bout them Ducks? After a seemingly traditionally bad first quarter, it was utter domination of the Huskies. Jake Locker looked quite bad in that game. The final score was 43-19.

Who really won that game? The defense. Special teams was spectacular too. Jeremiah Masoli led a rather successful offense sparked by the fiery and dynamic freshman running back LaMichael James. But the game was won with defense.

It's no surprise really that Florida, Texas, Alabama, Penn St., and TCU are the top defenses in the nation. We've somewhat come to expect that.

In Oregon's conference play (of which they've gone 4-0), the Ducks have allowed a measly 9.5 points. 

Yes, the Ducks football program is getting recognized for more than just flashy uniforms and crazy option plays. Oregon is known for a dominating defense and incredible special teams.

Consider this: Oregon has not finished in the top 40 defenses in the nation since 2004. This year, it ranks 19th, getting right up there with the likes of Florida, Texas, and the bunch.

Four starters were drafted only last spring, including All-Americans Patrick Chung and Nick Reed. T.J. Ward made his first appearance since the season opener last Saturday, and Walter Thurmond and Willie Glasper are both out for the season at cornerback.

Even so, Locker was sacked four times and picked off twice, including once by a freshman cornerback—Cliff Harris. The first touchdown allowed came in the fourth quarter, after Oregon had already gone up 36-6.

The defense, not the offense, as is the norm, will pose the biggest threat to USC this Saturday.

Oregon's defense secured a victory in 2007 by picking off Mark Sanchez twice and won 24-17. Should we see a similar result this week?

Matt Barkley is young. A tremendous freshman without a doubt, but a freshman nonetheless.

He makes mistakes, as we saw with the Oregon State game. He threw two interceptions and made some very bad throws throughout the game.

Oregon's defense is even better than Oregon State's. Nick Aliotti has done a beautiful job this year keeping up a mixture of zone blitzes, man to man blitzes, and many other confusing yet remarkable plays.

It sure threw Jake Locker off last weekend. It might very well do the same against the mighty Trojans.

USC is also playing in Autzen Stadium, which has proved one of the nastiest stadiums for many teams. Oregon has a huge home field advantage.

In any case, this proves to be possibly the most intriguing game of the week, as the result will affect the BCS and college football as a whole. 

If USC wins, they prove themselves No. 1 of the one-loss teams and push for a national title bid. They also secure themselves a minimum of a Rose Bowl.

If Oregon wins, the opposite happens. Oregon continues dominating the Pac-10 as USC has done in the past and they push for a title bid, and they also push USC almost completely out of BCS recognition.

Interestingly, it also helps Boise State's cause for a BCS bid, as well as Boise State doing well helps Oregon's cause. Funny how it all works out...

Currently, Sports Illustrated has Oregon playing in the Fiesta Bowl against Cincinnati—an incredible matchup between a fierce defense and the unstoppable Tony Pike.

However, it'll take a win against the USC Trojans to get there, or the national championship. Oregon can pull it off with the help of this incredible defense they have going on.


Oregon 31—USC 23