On Saturday, the No. 4 Oregon Ducks (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) will host the No. 18 USC Trojans (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12), as they continue their pursuit of a National Championship berth.
Both teams are currently atop their division of the conference, with the Ducks leading the North and the Trojans leading the South. The Ducks are coming off a huge 53-30 win over the Stanford Cardinal, which sent them to the No. 4 spot in the AP Top 25 and the BCS rankings.
Here’s a more in-depth look at the matchup.
Where: Autzen Stadium (Eugene, OR)
When: 8:00 p.m. EST on Nov. 19, 2011
Watch: ABC Regional/ESPN3
Betting Line: Oregon -15, according to SportsBook
The Ducks are desperately trying to make a charge for the National Championship game.
After losing their season-opener against the LSU Tigers, they’ve won every game by at least two touchdowns—including a win over previously No. 4 Stanford. The Ducks have a healthy LaMichael James, which will greatly help their cause.
Who Might Not Play for Oregon (According to College Injury Report)
The Ducks have no new injuries to report
Who Might Not Play for USC (According to College Injury Report)
Torin Harris (CB) is doubtful with a shoulder injury. He has not played in the last six games, and only had backup and special teams duties before that.
BCS/Top 25 Implications
USC is not bowl eligible this season.
The Ducks, on the other hand, are two regular season wins and a Pac-12 Championship away from one of the two top bowls. Only three teams are ahead of them in the BCS, and each has a huge game ahead.
LSU has to play No. 6 Arkansas in the final week on Nov. 25, Oklahoma State has No. 5 Oklahoma on Dec. 3 and Alabama has No. 24 Auburn on Nov. 26.
The Ducks have a very good shot at the National Championship game.
What They’re Saying
USC quarterback Matt Barkley is feeling confident heading into the game, as reported by Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times.
"I think Oregon is very good this year. But I think they were better when we played them in the past."
Oregon safety Eddie Pleasant fired back in an article by Aaron Fortress of The Oregonian.
“Ever since I’ve been here (USC players) always have something to say before we play them. We just can’t do nothing about that. We just have to go out there and play. And when he does get in here…we just have to do what we gotta do.”
Oregon Player to Watch
Thomas, a freshman receiver, is capable of big things because of his speed. Andrew Luck performed well against the USC defense on Oct. 29, so expect the Ducks to mix in some passes to open up space for James.
That’s where Thomas comes in.
USC Player to Watch
The Trojans will go as far as Barkley takes them. So far, he’s rarely faltered in his junior campaign. He’ll be up against a Ducks defense who just picked off Luck twice.
Will Barkley succeed against the Ducks secondary?
Key Matchup: Matt Barkley vs. Oregon secondary
Barkley will have to be special to keep his Trojans in the game against the high-powered Oregon offense. He’s getting some Heisman consideration, and this will be a make or break performance for him.
On the Hotseat
If the star Oregon running back wants a National Championship and Heisman consideration, he needs to come up huge in each remaining game.
Against LSU earlier this season, he was held to 54 yards on 18 carries. He did some damage in the passing game, but he didn’t take over. Against Stanford, he was dominant.
He needs to dominate USC.
Oregon 48, USC 28