Oregon travels to Los Angeles to face USC this weekend, so we caught up with SB Nation's Oregon's Addicted to Quack to give us some analysis and insight on the Ducks.
You can check out our answers on their site here
1. Considering he is just a redshirt freshman, how impressed have you been with the way Marcus Mariota has been able to lead the Ducks offense?
I think you have to be extremely impressed. The stats far exceed that of a freshman--68% completion percentage, 18 TDs to five picks. But more impressive than the stats is just the moxie that he exudes. Mariota has the same demeanor at all times, and never gets too up or down, which is the one thing that can't really be taught. Now, we have yet to see Mariota in a situation where Oregon is in a close game, but we haven't seen any reason to believe that he would be rattled by the situation. Here's a guy that has all the physical tools, but he also has that special 'it' quality to go with it. We're extremely happy with him right now.
2. Oregon has basically steamrolled over everybody this season, so should they be ranked higher than their current No. 4 standing in the BCS polls?
You know which way I'm going to argue on this. I shouldn't even dignify Notre Dame, who has barely beaten garbage teams like BYU and Purdue by three at home. Kansas State certainly has an impressive resume, but they've looked mortal at times this season, with very close wins against North Texas and Iowa State. Oregon's been up by three scores on everybody going into every fourth quarter this season. It would be hard for me to believe that a major conference team could win every game by three touchdowns and not play for a national title.
3. Everybody talks about the offense for obvious reasons, but how good is this Oregon defense compared to previous years under Chip Kelly?
If you look at Bill Connelly's S&P+, which adjusts for garbage time and quality of opponents, its the #2 defense in the country, right behind Alabama and just ahead of LSU. The biggest difference between this defense and even just two or three years ago is that Oregon is recruiting a completely different caliber of athlete. Its a lightning-quick defense, so you can't just try to break quickly to the edges. They eat that up. And they are absolutely brutal in the red zone (opponents only come away with points on 55% of red zone possessions). But they now also have the size up front that you can just go to a power game and wear them down.
4. Talk about a player or two on both offense and defense that could make a real impact on this game that Trojans' fans aren't aware of.
Many Oregon fans were concerned when All-American safety John Boyett went down for the season after the first game, but Avery Patterson has actually been better, and had interceptions in three straight games before the Colorado contest. The pair of sophomore corners, Terrance Mitchell and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, have emerged as two of the best cover corners in the conference this season. Offensively, everybody knows about Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas, but tight end Colt Lyerla and WR Bralon Addison have emerged as Mariota's favorite targets through the air, and have seven touchdowns between them.
5. Prediction on game? Does Oregon have a letdown considering how USC has played so far this year?
I don't think there is any chance for a letdown, not after how hyped this game has been and what happened in Autzen last season. There were two reasons that USC won last season: they had a ton of success running the ball early, which forced safeties into the box and a freshman corner to cover Marqise Lee 1-on-1, and defensively, the Trojans were able to shut down the Oregon running game for 2 1/2 quarters. Even so, the Ducks almost came back to win once they got rolling. The Trojans lost so much on both lines that I don't see that being replicated, especially with elite corners on both sides of the field for the Ducks. USC is too talented for this one to be over at halftime, but I like the Ducks to pull away as the fatigue starts to set in, and notch another three score victory.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. and the game will be televised on FOX.