Rich Kolbell

USC vs Oregon – Advanced Stats preview

We take an analytical approach to preview the match-up between the USC Trojans and the Oregon Ducks.

USC welcomes the Oregon Ducks into the Coliseum on Saturday for a homecoming bout between two familiar foes. Unfortunately for the Ducks they sit at 3-5 overall in what appears to be a rebuilding season for them. The Trojans are now winners of four in a row and have turned things around for the time being.

Below you’ll see two boxes showing a very high level S&P+ ranking for two Pac-12 teams. What’s amazing about these two teams is that they are seemingly mirror images of themselves, and one could even argue that they are in fact looking at the stat profile of the same team except in different weeks. No need to speculate any further, neither of these teams is USC.

Team A:

 

Team B:

When you take a deeper dive into these teams you see that Team A has the 28th best rushing S&P+ offensively and the 54th best passing offense. The even better stats come from Team B, which has the 24th best rushing S&P+ rushing offense and the 28th best passing offense. Defensively, though, Team A is 109th in S&P+ against the run and 60th against the pass, and team B is 124th against the run and slightly behind Team A at 66th against the pass. Both of these mystery teams perform and rank shockingly similarly, and without further ado, Team A is the Cal Golden Bears and Team B is the Oregon Ducks. The most surprising thing in looking at these two teams is the fact that Oregon is the better team throwing the ball. What may be even more shocking is how truly awful both teams are at stopping the run.

You would have to imagine that the USC game plan stays pretty similar this week vs last week. The Trojans should focus on the run, with just enough passing to take advantage of the Oregon safeties, and take advantage of one on one matchups on the outside. USC put up a whopping 604 yards of offense against Cal for an average of 8.05 yards per play and more importantly 8.7 yards per carry. Obviously expecting that exact output isn’t a rational thought, but the USC offense should not have issues moving the ball against an Oregon defense whose best player is a true freshman Linebacker in Troy Dye.

Defensively for USC, Justin Herbert brings a typical set of problems in this Oregon attack, he’s somewhat accurate, completing 63% his passes. On the other hand he is averaging a healthy 7.3 yards-per-attempt, signs of a young quarterback having some success but not lighting the world on fire. His biggest red flag though is the fact that he’s been sacked 8 times, giving hope to a mediocre USC pass rush. Oregon teams of the recent past have been great because of their running attack, and while it’s good this year, Royce Freeman hasn’t been his normal self so they’ve had to rely more on other runners like Tony Brooks-James. The USC defense should by no means sleep on this Oregon offense, even though it might not be the behemoth of years past.

(stats provided by footballstudyhall.com) 

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Saman Djabbari graduated from USC in 2008 and is a weekly contributor to uscfootball.com and co-host of the Traveler Hates Thursdays' podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @samandjabbari.


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