Remember all that buzz around the Pac 12 conference last summer? The Triple Threat with Woods, Lee, and Barkley. USC predicted to play in the national championship game. Kiffin is legit. Sanctions have been lifted and they’re back… Last summer was a great time to be a Trojan. But when fall came, the leaves started falling off the trees - and USC followed.
This Saturday marks the first game for the Oregon Ducks (8-0; 5-0 Pac12) this season to be up against a ranked opponent on gameday. SC is coming off a disappointing 39-36 loss to No. 22 Arizona (5-3; 2-3 Pac12), a team that Oregon railroaded 49-0 in front of crowd of 58,000 fans at Autzen Stadium in late September.
AP Photo - Oregon
The only advantage USC (6-2; 4-2 Pac12) has in this much anticipated battle is home field advantage. SC is 10 for 11 at home; their most recent loss last season when Stanford defeated the Trojans 56-48 in triple OT. But the wounds are still fresh between Oregon and USC. The only loss that Oregon has chalked up the last 20 of 21 games was to the Trojans – a devastating 38-35 loss at Autzen Stadium that bumped them off the BCS national championship radar.
Last week the Ducks thumped the Bufffaloes 70-14, pulling their starting lineup midway through the second quarter. Oregon scored 4 TD’s the first 15 minutes of play, averaging less than 2 minutes per offensive possession. Oregon finished the day with 30 first downs resulting in over 600 yards of total offense, 425 of those coming on the ground.
SC also put up over 600 yards of total offense last week against Arizona, but only 125 on the ground. Early season Heisman hopefully Barkley was 31 of 49 for 493 yards in the air; connecting with Sophomore Marqise Lee for 345 of those on 16 passes. SC looked strong the final minutes of the fourth with four consecutive first down conversions, but ran out of time as they drove down the field hoping to force it into OT.
AP Photo - Southern Cal
This weekend expect more in the air with Barkley (25 TD passes for 2266 yards on the season) looking to connect with Woods and Lee (76 receptions for 1129 yards). The other area where SC may rack up some yards is with penalties. SC leads the FBS in penalties, averaging 20% more than any other team in the country. SC players tell you it’s a ‘pride thing’ when questioned about racking up 18 personal fouls this season. Call it what you want, but in close matchup that ‘pride’ may cost you the W in the end.
I expect Chip to push the quick snap and get points on the board as quickly as possible. If Oregon can defend SC’s passing game they should exit the Coliseum with healed wounds and continue their quest to the national title.