Oregon Vs. USC: Who has the Edge?

Tomorrow, the Oregon Ducks will face off against the USC Trojans at 12:30pm in what is expected to be a high scoring affair. Each team, who was ranked high in pre-season polls, fell from grace as they stumbled in the first half of the season. Now, the Ducks and the Trojans find themselves back in the top 25 with a whole lot to play for- mainly a Pac 12 Championship birth.

For Oregon, this is a must win game, if they want to stay alive in the hunt to the Championship game. They will also need a win next week against Oregon State and will also need a little help from Cal who faces off against Stanford tomorrow night (Make sure to watch that one Ducks fans)!

Meanwhile, USC controls its destiny and a win tomorrow night against the Ducks would book their ticket to Levi Stadium in December.

As we look toward tomorrow’s kick off, here is a quick look at the match up!

Fun Facts:

  • This will be the Ducks’ first meeting with USC since 2012 and the 10th consecutive time both teams have been ranked while playing each other.
  • This will also mark the first time Mark Helfrich has lead the ducks against USC as a Head Coach. The last time the Ducks faced the Trojans was in 2012. Helfrich took over the reins as Head Coach in 2013.
  • USC’s Defensive Coordinator, Justin Wilcox, was an Oregon defensive standout from 1996-1999 before embarking into the world of coaching, which has been very successful by the way.

Why the Ducks should have the upper hand:

Looking ahead to this game last week, I felt the Trojans would have the upper hand simply because they have a very good passing game, led by quarterback, Cody Kessler, and receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster. That duo matched against Oregon’s struggling secondary could spell disaster for Oregon. But, here’s the deal . . .A deeper look into the match up gives Oregon the edge in that they have the more balanced offensive attack.

Make no mistake, Kessler and Co. will put up points, mainly through the air. Though not terrible, their run game isn’t great. The opposite could be said for the Ducks, who will likely not only score through the air, but also by grinding it on the ground via Rollin’ Royce Freeman and up and coming stars, Kani Benoit and Taj Griffin.

What about USC’s defense you ask? Well, their secondary, though not as ugly as Oregon’s, isn’t outstanding, and injuries have plagued the linebacker backer depth.

The bottom line is this: Both teams will score through the air, but Oregon’s RB’s should be able to exploit USC’s defense without much problem. That will also allow the Ducks to keep the clock moving, hopefully minimizing the time Kessler and Smith-Schuster have to exploit Oregon’s porous secondary. Meanwhile, Oregon’s linebackers shouldn’t have as tough of a time stopping USC’s run game. Given Oregon’s all around offensive abilities should give them the edge in this match up.

X-Factor

Turnovers
The Oregon vs. USC matchup is always tough. Look for this game to be a high scoring affair coming down to turnovers.
Both QB’s come in with nearly identical quarterback ratings and both have thrown their fair share of interceptions this year. While Oregon will need Adams Jr. to live up to his “Big Play VA” nickname, they will also need him to play a cleaner game, especially in the red zone, where a good number of his interceptions have occurred- especially because USC has been very successful in scoring points on turnovers this season. 79 to be exact.

Players to watch:

Royce Freeman: Watch for Royce to rack up a ton of yards this week—just like every week–. He’s on track to beat a ton of records this year and is on the Maxwell Award watch list for good reason.

DeForest Buckner: Buckner is one of the conference leaders in sacks this season. Meanwhile, USC’s Cody Kessler, has been sacked an average of 2.5 times a game this season. Look for Buckner to put pressure on Kessler all day.

Charles Nelson: Not only will the Ducks look to Nelson to give them good field position on special teams—returning kicks and punts—they will need him to be solid in the secondary too. With injury woes in an already struggling secondary, Nelson brings a consistent dynamic and just seems to know where to go. His toughness and football IQ is giving this group a much needed boost. Look for him to contain a fairly potent Trojan passing game. Dare I say it? I feel a Nelson Interception coming on.

Like most Oregon games in November, there is a lot on the line. Brace yourselves. It’s gonna be a fun one!

Would we expect anything less from a Trojan visit?

Got a prediction? Send us your comments!

Find Nichole Brown on Twitter @UOgridirongirl

 

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