No. 18 USC Football Hosts No. 2 Oregon|
Oct. 28, 2012
No. 18 USC enters the crucial month of November by hosting a much-anticipated showdown against No. 2 Oregon (the game sold out in mid-August) while simultaneously trying to bounce back from a wild shootout loss at Arizona. Three-time defending Pac-12 champ Oregon is riding a 12-game road winning streak and has scored 30-plus points in 21 consecutive outings. USC holds a sizable edge in its series with Oregon and scored an upset win in Eugene last season (UO has rolled off 11 consecutive victories since then). It is the ninth straight USC-Oregon contest in which both teams are ranked. Oregon has the upper hand against the Trojans when the Ducks come in ranked higher, but in games when both teams are ranked, Troy has the edge. The last time Oregon visited the Coliseum, it was ranked No. 1. USC is still seeking win No. 800. Trojan fans are encouraged to wear cardinal to the game.
Several Trojans turned in record-breaking performances in last weekend's desert defeat (both 2012 losses by head coach Lane Kiffin's team were by a TD or less). Soph WR Marqise Lee, who leads the Pac-12 in receptions, receiving yards, all-purpose yards and kickoff returns (all in the national Top 12), is garnering Heisman consideration after shattering the Pac-12 receiving yardage mark (345 yards) and having 469 all-purpose yards (second most ever in NCAA history). Fellow Heisman consideree QB Matt Barkley, already the Pac-12 career TD pass recordholder (he is 4 completions shy of that league standard), broke the school record for passing yards (493) and total yardage (497) in a game. WR Robert Woods, USC's career receptions leader, joins Lee as a Biletnikoff Award nominee. The Trojan offense also features Rimington Award nominee C Khaled Holmes, Penn State transfer TB Silas Redd and TEs Xavier Grimble and Randall Telfer.
USC's defense--in the national Top 25 in sacks, tackles for loss, scoring defense and pass efficiency defense--is led by All-American S T.J. McDonald (the team's top tackler), fellow Thorpe Award nominee CB Nickell Robey, LBs Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard and DE Morgan Breslin (he is among the nation's leaders in sacks and tackles for loss).
Oregon head coach Chip Kelly's squad, which blew out Colorado last Saturday at home for its 11th straight victory, features a potent offense that runs at breakneck speed and a defense that has proven stingy. UO is in the national Top 10 statistically in scoring (No. 1), rushing and total offense, as well as in the Top 20 in pass efficiency defense, tackles for loss, sacks, turnover margin and scoring defense. Redshirt freshman QB Marcus Mariota has stepped right in to effectively direct the Ducks' offense (he is 17th in the nation in passing efficiency). The Oregon ball carriers are super dangerous: RBs Kenjon Barner, the nation's No. 10 rusher and scorer who is nearing the 1,000-yard rushing mark in 2012, and multi-purpose De'Anthony Thomas, who is third nationally in punt returns. There is a slew of talented receivers, including WRs Bralon Addison, Daryle Hawkins and Keanon Lowe and TE Colt Lyerla. On defense, Oregon features LBs Michael Clay and Kiko Alonso, Ss Avery Patterson and Brian Jackson and DE Dion Jordan, who made the 2011 All-Pac-12 first team.
The game will air live nationally on FOX. A number of USC's other teams will be competing at home over the weekend, including the women's soccer team hosting UCLA on Friday and the No. 1 men's water polo team playing UC Santa Barbara 3 hours before kickoff on Saturday.