USC Football Begins November Play By Hosting Oregon|
Oct. 30, 2016
As Trojan alums return to campus for Homecoming activities, USC begins November play welcoming Oregon to the Coliseum for the first time since 2012. After a string of 10 consecutive USC-Oregon games in which both teams were ranked, this year sees neither in the national polls. In fact, it's the first time since 1982 that USC will face an Oregon squad that owns a losing record. The Trojans won't play the Ducks again until 2019 due to the Pac-12 schedule rotation. Although USC has captured nearly twice as many games in the Oregon series as the Ducks (including winning at a near-75% clip at home), the series has been tilted to the Ducks since the mid-1990s. The Trojans haven't defeated Oregon in the Coliseum since 2008. USC, coming off a dominant Thursday night victory over California, is riding a 4-game winning streak after starting off slowly in 2016. Troy is undefeated in its past 7 games in the Coliseum. The Trojans are playing one of the nation's toughest schedules. All 3 of Troy's losses in 2016 have been to AP Top 25 teams away from home. USC coach Clay Helton saw his team go undefeated in October thanks to a revitalized offense and a more aggressive defense. The offensive rise (500-plus total yards in each of the past 4 contests) coincided with the entry into the lineup of redshirt freshman QB Sam Darnold, who threw 16 TDs and just 2 picks in the last 4 games. He is seventh nationally in passing efficiency (his 173.1 mark is well above the USC season record) and in the Top 20 in completion percentage (.674) and passing TDs (a USC freshman season record 18), all leading marks for freshmen signalcallers in the nation in 2016 (his ESPN Total QBR is second best among all classes of QBs). WR JuJu Smith-Schuster is moving up the Trojan career Top 10 receiving chart and WR Darreus Rogers has played big this year. Young TBs Ronald Jones II and Aca'Cedric Ware combined for 353 rushing yards last game (223 by Jones), with equal credit due to the play of USC's offensive line. USC's defense, now dialing up more pressure, is thriving behind defenders like LBs Cameron Smith, Michael Hutchings and Porter Gustin, along with CB-WR-RET Adoree' Jackson, who also stars on special teams (he's in the national Top 10 in punt returns and kickoff returns). Coach Mark Helfrich's club is suffering through a rare down season in 2016, but posted a win at home over Arizona State this past weekend to snap a 5-game losing skid. The Ducks, who have scored at least 20 points in their past 38 games (a national best), are in the national Top 25 in rushing offense (248.0), total offense (519.1), scoring offense (40.5) and passing efficiency (157.4). QB Justin Herbert is Oregon's first true freshman quarterback since 1983. RBs Tony Brooks-James and Royce Freeman, a 2015 All-Pac-12 first team pick who has 19 career 100-yard rushing outings and is second on Oregon's career rushing chart (3,762 yards), carry the ground attack, while WRs Charles Nelson, another 2015 All-Pac-12 first teamer (as an all-purpose player) who is 12th in the nation in all-purpose running, and Darren Carrington are the key pass catchers. Leading the Duck defense are a pair of true freshmen, LB Troy Dye (the team's top tackler) and S Brenden Schooler. PK Aidan Scheider, who was an All-Pac-12 first team choice last fall, has hit 40-of-44 career field goals. The game will air live nationally on ESPN and ESPN Radio. There are a number of other USC sports in action during Homecoming weekend, including a key women's soccer game against UCLA at StubHub Center.