Ducks Want to Make Good Impression

The Oregon Ducks (7-2, 4-2) travel to USC (7-1, 5-1) this Saturday to take on the Trojans in front a national television audience on FSN. According to Oregon's Mike Bellotti, the game will give the Ducks an opportunity to take a step forward and show the college football world the type of team Oregon is.

"We can make a big statement about the type of team we are and want to continue to be," said Bellotti of the upcoming match up with USC. "We want to go put our best foot forward."

The game gives Oregon a chance to advance on the momentum the team created with wins over Portland State and Washington. USC rebounded last week by beating Stanford, 42-0 after suffering its only loss to Oregon State two weeks ago. The Trojans turned the ball over four times and fell to the Beavers 33-31 at Corvallis.

The turnover theme sounds pretty familiar to Duck fans as Oregon has experienced the same problems in its two losses. The Ducks turned the ball over four times against California and three times against Washington State. Last week the Ducks goofed three times with two interceptions and a fumble, but that was against Washington – not USC.

This game then could come down to one common denominator – holding onto the ball. Turnovers killed the Trojans against Oregon State and certainly didn't help Oregon against the Golden Bears and Cougars. So the straightforward answer about what will be the key to the Oregon-USC game is turnovers.

"In our losses this year, we turned the ball over," observed Bellotti." In their loss, they turned the ball over, a very common thread throughout college football.

Bellotti believes that while on paper, the USC game looks one-sided, the contest must be played on the field. Much is made over the fact USC sits right in the middle of football's prime recruiting ground and generally have first chance at the very best football players coming out of high school. Many of the players on the USC roster are athletes the Ducks coveted.

In fact, by reviewing Scout.com's database, it appears at least 27 players whom currently are Trojans, listed Oregon in their final top-5 group. Among those are a considerable number that trimmed their list to just USC and Oregon. Names like Rey Maualuga, Cary Harris, Hershal Dennis, Travon Patterson, Jamere Holland, Vincent Joseph and Shareece Wright. However, Bellotti feels that is definitely old news and while the Ducks would like to have some of those names on the Oregon roster – they are not. Besides, the Duck headman likes the players he has.

While the number of players on the Duck roster is considerably less than the other way around, there certainly are Ducks that could have been Trojans if they had so chosen. USC offered Jonathan Stewart, Jaison Williams, Ed Dickson and Cameron Colvin but all decided Oregon was the place for them. Derrick Jones was nearly a Trojan had it not been for some entry requirements. Eventually he ended up in Eugene. There is no doubt that the Ducks have a large number of players from Southern California and they would love to go back to Los Angles and show their hometown what they can do.

"I'm really excited about the players we have, I think on both sides of the ball there are some young men that were overlooked (by USC) and are key playmakers for us," Bellotti mentioned. "That's what we've built this program on and will continue to do so."

Playing well in Los Angeles is going to be important for the Ducks for a number of reasons. First the game will help the Ducks determine where they will end up in post season play. Secondly there is the pride issue of playing well on national television. Finally, since the Ducks do concentrate so heavily on the talent-rich Southern California area, a win will do wonders in trying to convince this year's corps of prospective student-athletes to make Oregon their first choice instead of their second. This won't be the first time the Ducks have been center stage. Earlier this season the opportunity presented itself at Berkeley, but the Ducks fell flat on their face against California, 45-24. Last year at Autzen Stadium the Ducks actually led at halftime but USC did everything right in the second half and the Ducks everything wrong and lost 45-13.

"We didn't do a very good job at Cal this year when we had that venue that same opportunity," observed Bellotti. "We have learned from that and again we had the same opportunity last year here against USC. This will be a little more difficult going to their place."

The game is a hot item in Los Angeles. Bellotti indicated that he's had players come to him for tickets and since the game is sold out even he has been unable to help.

"They say it is a sellout and has been a sellout before the season began," Bellotti mentioned. "I have players calling me for tickets now. I can't even send them to our ticket guy because there are no tickets."

Fox Sports will televise Saturday's contest with Barry Thompkins, Petros Papadakis and Jim Watson as the broadcast crew. Oregon Sports Network Radio with Jerry Allen, Mike Jorgensen and Jay Allen will begin coverage at 6 p.m. and OSN will also replay the game on a delay basis at 11:30 p.m. with Joe Giansante and Anthony Newman.

Subscribers to eDuck.com can join in with other fans in Chat all week long (evenings at 9 p.m. Pacific) and during the game.

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