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Oregon Week: For all the Marbles

With Oregon Beating Stanford last week and with USC not eligible for post season play, tomorrow night's game becomes the defacto Pac-12 championship.

Very few give USC any chance of winning. The line is anywhere between 14.5 and 16.5 so even the wise guys don't give us a chance.

So, USC needs to dig in and pull out all the stops.

The real Pac-12 title will be won Saturday night when USC visits Oregon at Autzen Stadium. It's just that nobody can officially say it because USC's two-year bowl ban has rendered the Trojans' ineligible for the inaugural championship.

If USC pulls off the shocker, Trojans fans can hold their own private championship party with an invisible trophy on symbolic display.

None of these Trojans, of course, had anything to do with the sanctions that led to USC's NCAA probation. They could be called non-champion victims of circumstance.

Who wouldn't wan to USC pull off the upset?

It would send the nation a HUGE message...USC may be down, the worst may be yet to come, but USC is not out.

It would show that taking Stanford to the final play was no fluke. It would show that will all the naysayers that USC could go into that crap hole in South Bend and dominate an overrated Notre Dame.

Autzen is no picnic.

USC has not had good luck luck there of late.

But if USC is going to send a message this is the time to do it.

Even if its gamesmanship UO coach Chip Kelly knows this one is the real deal...

Kelly made the case the quarterbacks at Stanford and USC are both exceptional and equally dangerous. Doesn't matter which you pick. As if all supermodels and sports cars are the same.

But Kelly must know he's flat wrong -- USC poses a threat Stanford didn't.

The Ducks neutralized Luck in that blowout of Stanford last Saturday. Not because they sacked the Heisman Trophy candidate and knocked him down repeatedly. Not because they disguised coverages and forced Luck to check off his No. 1 target in key situations. Rather, because Luck's receiving core is a pack of slugs.

Robert Woods is going to play...even if he is far less that 100%. Woods knows what is at stake.

Matt Barkley will have other weapons as well...Marqise Lee is going to take center stage, Brice Butler and Brandon Carswell are going to have to kick it into high gear.

The odds are against USC but the task is hardly impossible.

USC's defesne is better than last year.

Heck, they are better than earlier this year.

When the competition knows its going to be a donnybrook then you have to take notice.

The Oregon Ducks have the country's No. 5 rushing offense.

USC has the country's No. 8 rushing defense.

The two collide at 5 p.m. Saturday when the fourth-ranked Ducks (9-1, 7-0) play the No. 18 Trojans (8-2, 5-2) in Autzen Stadium, ABC/KATU (2).

There is plenty at stake here, with Oregon seeking to clinch at least a tie for the Pac-12 North Division title, and homefield advantage in the conference's first championship game.


One line of thinking is that nothing the Trojans have done in the first 10 games of the season is going to prepare them for the UO spread, which will hit them with some zone read option, and all the variants off of it that coach Chip Kelly and offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich can dream up.

Helfrich isn't buying.

"They've played versions of it," Helfrich said, "whether it's been Arizona State at times, Arizona at times. Notre Dame had a few similarities."

USC has a veteran defensive line built around 300-pounders DaJohn Harris and Christian Tupou in the middle, and defensive ends Wes Horton, Devon Kennard and Nick Perry on the flanks. They're all good, and they're all upper classmen.

Like I have said repeatedly...ALL. HANDS. ON. DECK!

Yes, 'SC has a chance...albeit a small one.

Strangers things have happened. (Stanford '07)

Maybe this is the year that USC exorcises some demons from the past and exacts some revenge.

We find out tomorrow night.