The Rundown: Oregon vs USC

Games are often given titles that they don't deserve and often fail to live up to the hype. The game on Saturday night against the Ducks and Trojans could potentially be a program-changing game.

USC football overall is a stellar program. Their history is completely unmatched compared to any other program out west. The Trojans are facing some tough times ahead as they won't be allowed to participate in the post season and will lose a significant number of scholarships over the next three years. This loss of scholarships will cast forward into the future as the limit of 25 recruits allowed per year will limit their ability to play catch-up.

Coming into the 2010 season, Trojan football was already fifteen scholarship players short of their allotted limit. The lack of overall depth has been apparent with a lot of close games and two losses on the last drive of the game. If you look at the numbers the Trojans are a solid football team, but have lacked the ability to put away good teams late or to really put the hammer down on lesser teams……until last week. The Trojans came out with their hair on fire and demolished the Cal Golden Bears at the Coliseum. Before we look too far into the win over Cal let's be fair and tell the tale of the Bears outside of Berkeley. Under Head Coach Jeff Tedford Cal is under .500 on the road while having lost a total of six games at home. The Ducks have Cal in Berkeley this year, but that's for another week.

The scenario for the Trojans this weekend couldn't be any better. This is the biggest game of their season. No matter what happens after Saturday it won't be nearly as meaningful. The natural motivation is there as the #1 team in both human polls is coming to their house. If the Trojans can win this game it will send the message to all of the youth in Southern California that even while USC Football is down, it's still good enough to beat anyone in the nation. The men of Troy will need all the help they can get in the future, especially with Colorado and Utah now poised to be added into the recruiting pool in Los Angeles when the Pac-10 goes to twelve teams next year.

On paper the Oregon Ducks are about as good as it gets. You'd have to look back to the Michael Vick days at Virginia Tech when the Hokies lead the nation in scoring offense and defense to find a better looking team. The Ducks score the most points on offense, gain the most yards, and have the most productive running back. For the great stat line Matt Barkley is making for himself, Darron Thomas' numbers are almost identical.

The Duck defense has been nothing short of impressive this season as well. The passing yards are fairly inflated because the Oregon offense usually builds a huge lead forcing the opponent to pass a great deal just to make it look like they got off the bus on the scoreboard. In all of college football the Ducks are leading in Turnover Margin, they are second in total Red Zone Defense, and number twelve in scoring defense. To showcase their athletic ability they are ninth in tackles for loss, twentieth in sacks, and twelfth in 3rd Down Defense. Being ranked 30th in Overall Defense isn't exactly elite, but when you're backing up one of the best offenses in the history of the game, it's more than sufficient.

Before the Pac-10 additions of new teams and a conference championship game the Ducks can take a huge step towards their first national title and show the northern division can compete with the southern. It doesn't take an expert to know the bulk of recruiting talent for the conference is located south of the Pacific Northwest.

The Ducks have the natural motivation of playing USC at the Coliseum and the confidence of battling back from adversity. Look for Coach Kelly to send a message to the rest of the conference and the nation as the Ducks put the throttle down from start to finish.

Trojan Keys to Victory
Successfully run the football on 1st down
Convert on 3rd down to keep the Duck offense on the sideline
Hold LaMichael James to under 150 yards
Don't run out of gas in the 4th quarter

Duck Keys to Victory
Have an average game

Prediction: Oregon 58, USC 31

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