In an attempt to set a new record in the "Longest Game Ever" category, the Oregon-USC game had to come very close in setting a new mark. After kicking the ball off at 7:30 p.m., the team battled each other, TV timeouts and the official replays and the game stretched out over four hours in duration finishing sometime just before midnight. For Duck fans it was an ugly sight. Oregon managed to move the ball well enough but simply could not finish off drives with points as the Ducks fell 35-10 to the Trojans. Oregon managed to put itself into scoring position on at least four drives but only managed a touchdown and field goal. Quarterback Dennis Dixon threw an interception and made a poor pitch that caused a lost fumble at the Oregon 12. The Trojans capitalized on both turnovers by scoring touchdowns in short field situations. Despite the two turnovers, Dixon played pretty well as he was 15-for-23, 130 yards and the solo pick but he also rushed for 44 yards (net 20 after being sacked twice) with a long of 20. Jonathan Stewart ran hard on his 14 carries for 42 net yards but the Ducks got away from the run game by the second half as they trailed 14-0 at halftime. Statistically the game was fairly even as Oregon had 358 yards of total offense and 25 first downs compared to USC's 343 yards and 21 first downs. Patrick Chung was the leading Duck tackler with seven (five solo) including a sack and Paul Martinez was 1-for-2 in field goals with one good from 22 yards out.
Defensive lineman Cole Linehan (broken foot) - out
Fullback Jason Turner (torn ACL) - out
Running back Chris Vincent (torn ankle ligament) - out
Defensive end Victor Filipe (elbow) - out
Running Back Andiel Brown (broken finger) - out
Wide Receiver Derrick Jones (right ankle tendon) - out
WHEN OREGON IS ON OFFENSE:
A healthy and confident Dixon is the ideal quarterback for Oregon's spread offense, when he is not turning the ball over. In the early part of the season, he was making good decisions and showed great confidence. In the three Oregon losses, Dixon has turned the ball over and made some mental mistakes such as the poor pitch last Saturday night. He has played much better in front of the home crowd and most likely the Ducks will flourish with multiple receiver sets with a powerful running game featuring Stewart and Jeremiah Johnson. When Oregon is successful, Stewart rushes for more than 100 yards and Johnson gets over 50.
All of Oregon's scholarship receivers are 6-1 or taller and in seven games this season one of those tall, fast receivers have had over 100 yards receiving. Jaison Williams is having a tremendous year with five games over 100 yards but Jordan Kent and Brian Paysinger also had big days too. Cameron Colvin has been hampered by nagging injuries and seems due for a breakout game.
WHEN UA HAS THE BALL:
Oregon has been a "bend but don't break" defense and has played well enough when they are not forced to constantly defend a short field. Defensive Coordinator Nick Aliotti's charges have battled injuries as much as opponents and are now as healthy as they been all year. The Ducks run a 4-3 hybrid defense. They will play four down linemen, two linebackers and an outside linebacker that they call a strong safety.
Matt Toeaina and David Faaeteete start and Jeremy Gibbs is rotating in as does Ra'Shon Harris at defensive tackle. Darius Sanders, Nick Reed and Dexter Manley are the ends and can disrupt an opponent's passing game when given to the green light to go after the quarterback.
Blair Phillips has been very impressive all yearlong is near the top of the Pac-10's leading tacklers (9.0 per game). Kwame Agyeman will be listed as a strong safety in the program but he really is an outside linebacker in the Oregon scheme. A.J. Tuitele is the weakside linebacker, and a tenacious tackler.
J.D. Nelson and Patrick Chung are big hitters out of the safety positions. Walter Thurmond starts at one corner and Jairus Byrd has been a solid at the other side.
The Ducks have remained the best pass defense in the Pac-10 at 145.5 yards per game. Too often this season the Ducks have been run over not only by the likes of Adrian Peterson (211 yards), Dwayne Wright (154) and Justin Forsett (167), but also by Ryan Torain (114), Dwight Tardy (145), Chauncy Washington (119) and even Portland State's Mu'Ammar Ali (139).
Place kicker Paul Martinez is 14-for-19 this season with a long of 48 and has one attempt blocked. Aaron Knowles is averaging 42.3 yards, and Patrick Chung is the punt return specialist.
OREGON CAN WIN IF:
Oregon will win if they do not give the Wildcats good field position early with turnovers. The Ducks are very good at Autzen Stadium. Dixon has come back from disappointing games with a vengeance and should do so Saturday too. Expect Stewart to go over 100 yards and one of the tall receivers to go over 100 yards rushing.
The forecast for Saturday is partly cloudy with a 10 percent chance of rain. In Oregon of course that could mean it would only be raining 10 percent of the time, however as the Autzen Stadium announcer Don Essig will announce, "it never rains in Autzen Stadium."
OREGON WILL LOSE IF:
Dixon makes poor choices and turns the ball over. Arizona is riding high after upsetting California, but perhaps calling it upset does not give proper credit to the Wildcats. They have been competitive all year long and are playing great defense and the special teams have been superb. If the Ducks allow Syndric Steptoe to have big returns giving Willie Tuitama short fields to work then Oregon will be in big trouble.
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