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Under The Hood: USC at Oregon

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The biggest game of the weekend might be out in the Pac 10, where the formerly invincible USC Trojans take on the team that's got an offense as explosive of the championship-level USC teams of 2003-04.

Schedule To Date



Statistical Composite
USC By The Numbers: Offense
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD QB Rating Yards/Play Scoring Offense
203.7 (20) 5.24 (5) 14 (36) 231.0 (55) 6.5 (76) 17 (20) 129.7 (52) 5.8 (29) 34.6 (10)



Oregon By The Numbers: Offense
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD QB Rating Yards/Play Scoring Offense
295.4 (3) 5.99 (3) 24 (3) 255.4 (38) 8.5 (10) 16 (25) 162.4 (4) 6.9 (4) 466.0 (2)



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USC By The Numbers: Defense
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD QB Rate Yards/Play Scoring Defense
64.1 (4) 2.19 (5) 7 (19) 188.0 (21) 4.9 (3) 5 (3) 97.4 (9) 3.7 (2) 16.6 (10)



Oregon By The Numbers: Defense
Rush YPG Rush YPC Rush TD Pass YPG Pass YPA Pass TD QB Rate Yards/Play Scoring Defense
143.0 (50) 3.96 (60) 8 (30) 253.3 (89) 6.6 (49) 12 (63) 116.2 (38) 5.3 (57) 22.6 (39)



The final step is to put those numbers into context. The following chart shows the national rank in offensive and defensive yards per play for each of USC's and Oregon's 2007 opponents.

Analysis

*First things first: USC has played an abominable schedule thus far. Idaho, Nebraska, and Notre Dame have all proven to be horrible, while their Pac 10 slate thus far has been a tour of the bottom of the barrel. Again re: Kansas, the double standard is obvious. USC has a loss to one of the worst teams in Division 1, without a quality win to speak of, making USC the highest-ranked unproven team in the country - bar none. Just so we're clear on that.

*With that said, I do think the USC defense has asserted its strength, despite the weak competition. This unquestionably will be the stiffest test to date for the high-powered Oregon offense.

*Trojan fans will note that USC has (at least for now) switched to Mark Sanchez at quarterback, but he's not been a world beater thus far. As mediocre as John David Booty was before getting hurt, Sanchez - at least statistically - hasn't been a whole lot better than Booty. Sanchez had a nice 4 TD, 0 INT game against Notre Dame, but still missed on far too many passes. Even if you think switching to Sanchez now is the right move for the long term (which most do), some growing pains must be expected.

*Oregon simply hasn't been tested by a defense like USC's yet, which is one of the reasons why this is such an interesting matchup. We're all sure USC has an elite defense. We're all sure Oregon has an elite offense. Everything else is an unknown. And that includes who wins the battle between the Great Offense vs Great Defense.

*I'm not a big intangibles guy, but it has to help the Ducks to see USC, losers to Stanford, enter Autzen Stadium as perceived mortals. Knocking off the defending champs is never an easy task, but it helps when the champ enters with his blood in the water. I'd bet Oregon smells it.

*Finally, USC hasn't been the same offensive team since Norm Chow left for the professional ranks. The defense has been mostly strong, but the offense has lacked that consistent explosiveness. Meanwhile, I love Oregon's new offensive coordinator Chip Kelly (formerly at New Hampshire), who's off to a terrific start in Eugene.

PICK: Oregon 36  USC 31

--PB--