USC is one of the most prestigious football schools in the history of the sport's existence. Countless big names have shined in the Coliseum dawning the unmistakable cardinal and gold.
From O.J. Simpson to Reggie Bush, USC has dominated the competition for the better part of the last few decades both in on-field success and off-field hype.
How quickly things change.
USC's latest great coach Pete Carroll has moved on to greener pastures and NCAA sanctions now haunt the program and will continue to do so for the next several years. The program saw an unfathomable amount of success under Carroll, who also brought that patented swagger. Celebrities of music and screen dawned the Trojan sidelines for each and every exposé of USC domination.
Enter new head coach, Lane Kiffin, who is unproven and unimpressive thus far. Exit 25 scholarships and a few junior and senior linebackers. What's left? A lot of big time recruits up front with little depth behind them. The result has been the definition of an up-and-down football season. It's been a long time USC had two losses this early into the PAC-10 schedule.
And they're about to get a third.
Oregon comes into this game boasting if not the best, certainly the fastest scoring offense in the nation led by a Heisman candidate running back and a fleet-footed first year starter at QB in Darron Thomas. Their defense, often under-appreciated, is 13th in the country in yards per play and thrives on offensive miscues.
The Ducks came into this game last year looking for signs they could contend with a traditional power. They did a lot more than that with their 47-20 romping of the then top 10 Trojans. What was last year's surprise upset has become this year's expectation.
On paper, the Trojans shouldn't be able to compete with the Ducks, at least not for very long. Oregon averages almost a point per minute and they will score, USC's job is to keep pace with them. Seven teams have tried and failed at doing just that. Even teams like Tennessee, Arizona State, and Stanford who all had early leads on the Ducks could not keep pace as Oregon eventually wound up winning those games, two of which were away from Autzen, by a combined 67 points.
Should Oregon go out and dominate from start to finish like they did last Thursday night against UCLA, it will only cement what most college football pundits already believe, that Oregon has the best team in the country.
A win, however, by itself will signify a changing of the guard in the PAC-10. USC's decades of dominance have hit a speed bump both in NCAA sanctions and improved competition. Stanford, Washington, Oregon State, Arizona, and Oregon now can compete with the Trojans on any given day in any arena.
Oregon, though, holding victories over all those opposing teams in the past two years, looks like the new powerhouse. And, it's beginning to show in the recruiting rankings as the Ducks have picked up major speed for the future in Tacoi Sumler and Jarrard Randall.
Chip Kelly's offense has paved the way for what was formerly simply referred to as "Nike U" to become the new dominant force in the PAC-10 and college football for the immediate future. When Chip has the Ducks in a row and flying together, it's a beautiful thing to watch.