Week 10 Predictions: Oregon vs USC

Oregon (3-5) vs Southern California (5-3)
Saturday, November 5th // Los Angeles, CA // 4:00pm PST // ESPN


Why we could BEAT USC…

We have Justin Herbert! All Hail Herbert! Our offense gets off to a fast start thanks to Herbert’s passing and Royce Freeman/Tony Brooks-James are able to slash through the USC defense. Meanwhile our defense continues to improve and is able to get pressure on SC’s own freshman star QB Sam Darnold.

USC has won four games in a row, but this is also the team that was embarrassed by Alabama, scored 10 points against Stanford and won a close one against Colorado while only scoring 21 points. Last year we had great success passing against them, and I don’t see why we can’t replicate that performance. Our young defense is getting experience, and if they can create some turnovers it will give us a chance.

Because Oregon is 4-1 in their last five games vs. USC, and that one loss is from when the Ducks had a bad kicker and I’m 100% sure Aidan Schneider ain’t missing that kick. (Wait, did I just jinx us? I take it all back! Schneider is terrible, I don’t trust him!)

Anyway, the last time Oregon played at USC a certain freshman QB helped lead the Ducks to a 62(!)-51 win. I don’t know if you guys know this or not, but Oregon’s current starting QB is also a freshman. Further, in 1994 Tony Graziani, who wore #10, made his first start at USC and led the Ducks to a 22-7 victory. Guess who else is #10? That’s right, Justin Herbert. It’s science, people.

Plus USC will most certainly be looking past the lowly, last-place Ducks, as a date with UW in Seattle looms next weekend.

Since Justin Herbert has taken over the Ducks have averaged 41.3 points per game, but when you look at those totals compared to the opponents it comes out to 21 (UW), 49 (Cal) and 54 (ASU).  I think the offense can put up some points, and if they can get up early on USC the Ducks could make the Trojans fold-up shop.  For that to happen the Ducks need to work the lateral run game and the deep-seem to get the Trojans athletes guessing on D.   And Oregon will need USC to let up… they might overlook the Ducks with their eyes on UW the following weekend, the Trojans have elite talent and a balanced offense but if they don’t Fight On then the Ducks have a chance to steal a win.

Here’s an ice-cold take: If we win, it won’t be because of the defense. Woah, woah, put down the torches and pitchforks.

Herbert has gotten noticeably better every game. He takes too many big hits, but his runs are smart and timely. He doesn’t manufacture plays the way Johnny Manziel or Vernon Adams did. He takes what he’s given, but isn’t a risk taker. His timing and chemistry with his receivers — particularly the tight ends — has benefitted greatly from a few extra weeks of first team reps.

I hope to see Taj Griffin get more involved on offense. Actually, what I really want is Taj to get involved on Special Teams. Charles Nelson has hands issues and Darren Carrington has hands but more importantly decision-making issues. I’d like a new face back there, particularly one that isn’t a vital part of the offense (like Nelson and Carrington are). Expect Tony Brooks-James to get somewhere between 12-18 carries, and Royce between 8-15.

Oregon needs to have a balanced ground and air attack throughout the game. USC’s defense is good and far better than anything the Ducks have seen since Washington. The offense should simply need to limit mistakes and costly turnovers. Herbiota will finally have a solid test after a few spectacular weeks under his belt and the time to learn and command this offense. Getting receivers into this game, along with the TE’s, will continue to spread the field for the rushing attack of LaMichael Brooks-James. A healthy-ish Royce Freeman would be a definite plus in this game, but we aren’t likely to see that for the rest of the season (poor kid). This will come down to defense and well, you know what we have. The defense must force turnovers. They have to play smart, they have to play disciplined. The time for dumb penalties has long since passed. If they can do all that, this game should be relatively high scoring and close throughout.

WE. ARE. ON. A. ROLL! Herbert is phenomenal and TBJ is the fastest duck I have seen in a while. I am not sure what the deal is with Royce but something is off and he just needs to sit out until he is better. I like what I am seeing from the D when they get fired up. Once they get some momentum they seem to be on the 3 and out train in consecutive drives. I think we need to take 2nd half kickoff if we win the toss and keep Nelson/Carrington conservative on returns. Fair catch if they don’t have a clear shot to make a decent run. Pharaoh also seems to have his fire back so hopefully he can make some big plays. This is our last game versus USC for two years so let’s make it count. GO DUCKS!

Why we could LOSE to USC…

The previously mentioned Sam Darnold has 18 TDs to 3 INTs this year, and leads a balanced offense that has two running backs who have combined for 1000 yards on a very healthy 6.4 yards per carry average. Our defense is getting gashed on the ground by passing teams like Wazzu and Cal, a balanced offense is the last thing the Duck defense needs to see.

The USC defense has been pretty good this year, and while I’ve seen improvement from our offensive line I’m afraid of seeing three and outs due to our running game sputtering. We’re all feeling better after beating up on an awful Arizona State defense, but this is a second baptismal by fire for Herbs and we should temper our expectations.

USC has a lot of very good players on offense, a bunch of 4- and 5-star kids at the skill positions. Against bad defenses like Arizona State, Arizona, and Cal, the Trojans have posted 40+ points. In those three games, they started fast, scoring no fewer than 27 first-half points. Their defense has somewhat quietly put together a good season. After the season-opening 52-6 debacle vs. Alabama, the Trojans have allowed 30+ points only once in seven games, and have given up just 23 total 1st half points in their last four games. In short, USC is most certainly not the same team that started 1-3 and looked like they were actively trying to get Clay Helton fired.

As quickly as Oregon can score the USC offense/special teams can return the favor.  If the Trojans win the field position battle and work with short fields they could dominate much like the UW game with the final result looking just as ugly.    Turnovers have been key this season, either with giving up the ball in key moments, or taking it ourselves.  A simple strip on a kick return or a fumble trying to get an extra yard on a run up the middle could be the blood in the water that makes Saturday a long day for the Duckies.  If Oregon can’t steal two or three possessions then USC wins easily. 

No point in sugar coating this: for the second time in three months, an Oregon defensive player was suspended indefinitely for violence against a woman. While one of those players stood to make a bigger impact than the other, that’s still a very, very bad thing. Hard to know the extent of an impact missing a backup LB will be, but any loss is a big loss at this point. In the interest of fairness, Eddie Heard pleaded Not Guilty at his arraignment.

Plain and simple: our offense is better but our defense is not. At least, not enough to make a difference. USC is USC. Even on a “down” year, they will always be one of the most talented teams in the country. This year is a middling year, but they are still loaded. Loaded enough that this one could get out of hand. Not 70-21 out of hand, but be prepared to see some empty Coliseum seats come 4th quarter.

USC comes in with a 40th ranked rushing attack, followed up with a 42nd ranked passing offense. Yes, they’re balanced. Oregon brings a knife to a gun fight, showing up with a rushing defense ranked 116th and a passing defense of 121st, for a whopping 127th out of 128 ranking in total defense. USC theoretically should be able to score at will on this team, by land, by air, by sea, by cheerleaders, et al. If Oregon can’t get USC’s offense out of rhythm by forcing turnovers or shortening drives, this could get out of hand very quickly.

If defense doesn’t have that fire we are going to have some issues. Also USC is 3rd in the P12S division. While they can’t win the division they do want to put themselves in a top 3 position. Like Oregon they have fallen and are trying to fight their way back to elite status.

The Picks… 

Oregon wins, 42-35. A big part of me thinks USC will treat our defense like a punching bag, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ducks leave LA with an upset win.

Oregon only wins this game if it’s a shootout, with both teams scoring 40+. Unfortunately for the Ducks, USC has shown no recent signs that their defense will play that poorly. I expect to see the Trojan offense start fast, and I think their defense will bring Justin Herbert back to earth a bit. No upset here, USC drops Oregon 51-27.

Oregon loses.  55-35

USC 55, Oregon 38

It’s gut check time. According to every USC honk, THIS IS OREGON’S SUPER BOWL!!111!!!11one!! This win is crucial to salvaging a lost season & continuing to push for bowl eligibility. Herbert needs to show that he’s not just a spectacular QB against bottom feeding defenses, he has to be solid on the road in The Coliseum. Oregon shows glimpses of being able to pull this off, but in the end, it’s not enough and the defense continues to be a raging dumpster fire. Oregon 37, USC 52


Oregon Wins by 3.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s