(5) USC at (10) Oregon
By Contributing Fanspeak writer Geoff Nelowet
The Southern California Trojans have won seven straight Pac-10 titles. They hope – and are expected – to continue that streak, but they will have to come from behind this season, which is something they are unaccustomed to. They are also unaccustomed to having a starting freshman quarterback in Matt Barkley, but this season is an adjustment process in which the Trojans will be learning on the fly. Playing Oregon in Eugene is arguably the Trojans’ toughest task of the season, and should they win this game, and win out the rest of the season, they will have earned a Pac-10 title in very impressive fashion.
The Ducks boast a potent offense at 45.7 points per game and 484.7 yards, and this is bad news for USC because over the last few weeks, their defense has been shaky at best. The Trojans have given up 482 and 367 yards the past two weeks to offenses that are arguably inferior to the Ducks’ attack. USC narrowly defeated Notre Dame and Oregon State, so their hands will undoubtedly be full against tenth-ranked, 6-1 Oregon.
Oregon’s lone loss came at Boise State in the first week of the season. Oregon has won six straight – and they have won impressively. On September 26th, they took down then-ranked No. 6 California 42-3. The week prior, they beat then-ranked No. 18 Utah. In short, USC needs to bring their best performance to take down this flourishing Oregon unit.
Dual-threat quarterback Jeremiah Masoli leads the Ducks this season. He has accounted for 12 touchdowns this season – seven were on the ground. Since the Boise State game, LaMichael James has taken over at running back for the infamously suspended Legarrette Blount. He has rushed for over 700 yards and six touchdowns in his freshman campaign.
Barkley has shown he can lead the Trojans into a hostile environment and come out with a victory. He has done it twice now at Notre Dame a week ago, and at Ohio State early in the season. He will do it again against Oregon, but he will only play a partial role. The Trojan defense will correct its past errors, and they will contain the Oregon attack. Final score: USC 34 Oregon 24