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It's Oregon Week! USC's sense of urgency and the trash talk starts

I guess it is fair to say that this is USC's bowl game this year.

Yes, we still have to play rivals Notre Dame and UCLA but the fact is those games don't mean as much when those teams aren't very good.

Oregon is the in thing right now.

USC won't play in a bowl game this season, but Saturday's matchup against top-ranked Oregon will boast most of the trappings.

With ESPN's College GameDay setting up shop at the Coliseum and a social network movement urging fans to "Red Out the Coli" by donning cardinal-colored clothing, the game shapes up as one of the most intriguing of the college football season.

I remember when opposing teams use to consider playing 'SC their bowl game...turnabout is fair play!

Oregon runs an explosive offense and plays at a pace that hasn't been seen in CFB ever. This team eats up chunks of yards in a very short amount of time and leaves opposing defenses standing around with their hands on their hips from fatigue.

if you want hang with Oregon you have to be in shape so 'SC put some extra emphasis on conditioning this past week...

In the aftermath of his team's rout of California on Oct. 16, USC Coach Lane Kiffin said preparing to play a top-ranked team was no different from readying for any other opponent.

Then Kiffin went out and conducted a series of off-week practices unlike any at USC in the last decade.

With several assistants absent because they were recruiting, the usually low-key Kiffin transformed. He became a vocal taskmaster, sprinting from station to station and constantly exhorting his players to maintain the breakneck pace that was adopted to emulate Oregon's.

The Trojans also ran end-of-practice sprints to improve their conditioning before facing a team that has scored a national-best 55 points a game.

Conditioning is important but more important will be the defense watching their gaps and keeping their assignments.

Oregon can be beat, but it is tough to do when you are in the wrong place at the wrong time. This has been one of the defenses main problems this season. They need a near perfect performance this week to keep the Ducks in won't be easy at all.

The noise on this game is picking up.

'SC has some revenge on their minds after last years embarrassing loss in Eugene.There may be some pride issues here but 'SC just needs to focus on the task at hand and not get caught up in last years debacle. Just play some solid, consistent football on defense.

Oregon's offense is very good, we have all seen how fast they can score and the pace they operate at but their defense has some issues. The Ducks really haven't been tested this year except for Stanford and that was at Autzen. So, we don't really know how good this team is until they go on the road and play a better than average team, especially one that can put up some points as we have seen 'SC do this season.

Lane Kiffin is a little concerned.

Coach Lane Kiffin marveled at the physical condition of Oregon's defense, and no statistic bears it out more than the Ducks' time of possession. Oregon ranks 114 th in the nation in time of possession, with the offense on the field for just 26 minutes, 40 seconds per game because of its ability to score so quickly.

That means the defense is on the field a lot longer than coaches prefer. But Kiffin said it is not an issue because of the Ducks' defensive stamina. It also illustrated the high tempo Oregon's offensive prefers.

Yes, but the defense is playing against some bad is not like they are being tested. Again, Stanford is their signature game...

Not surprising, Duck fans can be a little selective on their information...

4. USC - So we've given you two weeks to prepare. I hope you've used the time to a) find a new defense, b) find a new coach, and c) figure out who the best running back in the conference is. Let's see if we can help you out with this (I'll give you an hint, it's the guy that's only played in 5 games):

Player School Games Att Yards Ave TD Yards/G
LaMichael James Oregon 5 114 848 7.44 9 169.6
Johnathan Franklin UCLA 6 112 679 6.06 5 113.17
Shane Vereen California 6 111 630 5.68 8 105
Jacquizz Rodgers Oregon St 6 141 621 4.4 10 103.5
Chris Polk Washington 6 109 571 5.24 3 95.17
Stepfan Taylor Stanford 6 99 482 4.87 3 80.33
Allen Bradford USC 7 73 560 7.67 4 80
Player ? Washington 0 0 0 0 0 0
James Rodgers Oregon St 4 8 38 3 0 9.5

Seriously USC, what's your marquee win on the year? Cal? You might want to remind your QB that talking trash didn't work out too well for him last year. By the way, if the weakness in your defense is on the edges or to the outside receivers, that's not going to bode well for you either. Oh well, we're happy to bring along our travelling road show to get you some needed pub for the week.

Oregon has the edge, no question...they also have the pressure.

It is easy to pad stats against a bunch of doormats. When your signature win is against Stanford at home I would take it easy on calling out other teams signature wins. It is a stark contrast to beat up on a very bad, disorganized UCLA team at home and then have to travel to L.A. to take on a USC team that can put some points up but also has some defensive issues.

Oregon are the new kids on the block, this is a new experience for them getting all this attention. That's cool, you have to start somewhere, but it was only ten short months ago that the Ducks were schooled in Pasadena against a Buckeyes team that lost to USC at home with a true freshman QB at the helm. And the Buckeyes appear to still have some issues this season. They aren't all that.

Oregon is very good offensively but lets not hand them the BCS title just yet.

There is some urgency with this game. Because of USC being ineligible for the post season they are in it to play the spoiler...

After Tuesday’s practice, USC coach Lane Kiffin said he noticed a different energy from his team. The pep-in-the-step didn’t represent momentum from a blowout victory over California. No, any extra enthusiasm was directed toward the future.

"The urgency," Kiffin said on last week’s Pac-10 coaches teleconference, "had to do with playing the No. 1 team in the country two Saturdays from now."

Two Saturdays from now has become one Saturday from now, and the buzz around this game has multiplied. Oregon, still No. 1 in both the Harris and coaches’ Top 25 rankings, comes to Los Angeles this weekend.

The game carries national championship implications for the Ducks; for the Trojans, it’s as close as they will get to a championship this year. Losses to Washington and Stanford have essentially eliminated USC from a Pac-10 title, and NCAA sanctions make the team ineligible for a bowl trip.

'SC has their work cut out for them. They will have a very difficult time beating this very speedy Ducks team so anything is possible...

Later this week I will be doing a Q&A with one Duck alum who is also a member of the Portland media. This is a guy I have known since the 2nd grade and he knows his stuff.