Last year, with a healthy Dennis Dixon, the Oregon Ducks beat USC in a 24-17 decision capped off by a Mark Sanchez interception in the closing minutes. Last week, USC failed their post-Ohio State quiz, and a nimble running back named Jacquizz Rodgers made their defense look pedestrian.
This week, everyone—including Vegas, since USC is a 16.5-18 point favorite—thinks that the Trojans will exact revenge on multiple levels against the Ducks.
In the words of that famous College GameDay personality Lee Corso, "Not so fast my friend!"
Do we believe that USC’s loss was solely a function of effort? I agree that the loss to Oregon State was largely due to their mindset (as evidenced by their second half comeback), but we have to also give Oregon State and Quizz Rodgers credit for executing a great game plan.
The most surprising thing about USC’s loss to Oregon State was their inability to stop the run. Quizz Rodgers ran around, through, and by would-be Trojan tacklers and embarrassed the USC front seven.
While USC will certainly be dialed in this weekend against the Ducks, the Trojans are also taking a step up in competition. Quizz is good, but the Oregon Ducks’ rushing attack is the best in the Pac-10, and it isn’t even close. Oregon averages 100 yards per game more on the ground than the second-best Pac-10 team, Cal.
Further, the Ducks defense could pose just as much resistance as Oregon State’s D, if not more.
Let’s compare Oregon and Oregon State statistically.
Oregon State: 143 yards per game (72nd in the nation)
Oregon: 308 yards per game (Fourth in the nation)
Oregon State: 28.5 points per game (57th in the nation)
Oregon: 47.4 points per game (Seventh in the nation)
Oregon State: 320 yards per game (40th in the nation)
Oregon: 330 yards per game (49th in the nation)
Oregon State: One per game (102nd in the nation)
Oregon: 3.2 per game (10th in the nation)
Oregon State: +0.25 per game (49th in the nation)
Oregon: -0.2 per game (69th in the nation)
Last weekend Oregon State won with ball control (they held possession for 35 minutes) and turnover margin (+2). If Oregon can run the ball effectively—and all of the stats say they can—the Ducks should be able to keep the powerful Trojan offense off the field.
Plus, given the absence of Rey Maualuga at linebacker, look for the Ducks to move the ball "surprisingly" well.
Further, Mark Sanchez will be pressured by the Oregon defensive line more than he’s been pressured all season. It will be interesting to see how Sanchez responds to the additional pressure since he’s only been sacked twice all year.
If the turnover margin is even or slightly in Oregon’s favor, Oregon should have no problem beating the point spread.
In the end, it’s likely that Oregon will lose this game due to turnovers and their inexperience at QB (aren’t they on their third or fourth string guy?!). I think that since this game is in LA, USC will ultimately win, but I’d be surprised if they win by more than 10 points.
USC 31, Oregon 24