USC VS. Oregon: A Complete Game Will Be Required By The Trojans


This Saturday when the Trojans meet the Ducks in Eugene, national title hopes will be on the line for both teams.

The Trojans will be in a hostile environment playing a Ducks team that has improved each and every week and now finds itself ranked #10 in both the BCS and AP rankings.

With a “healthier” Jeremiah Masoli back under center for Oregon (Masoli said he was about 75% healthy for the Washington game), the Trojans face a nemesis, the dual threat quarterback, that has haunted them throughout the years.

For USC, facing a running quarterback who also has the ability to make plays with his arm, comes at an inopportune time.

The Trojans, who lost nine starters from last years dominant defense, began the year surprising everyone by fielding a defense that was top five nationally through the first five games of the year.

This was a defense that replaced the physicality of last years version with speed and the ability to pursue from sideline to sideline.

Meanwhile, the Trojan offense, assumed to be the strength of this years team, struggled to find itself under true freshman quarterback Matt Barkley.

Barkley, who was injured in the Ohio State game and missed the following week against Washington (USC’s only loss), wasn’t really the reason for the early stagnation by the offense.

Rather, it was just a case of offense finding its identity and meshing under first year offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates.

Now, it appears that the Trojans have found continuity on offense as evidenced by the Trojans last two games.

Having scored 34 points against Notre Dame and 42 against Oregon State in the last two weeks, there is reason for optimism for the Trojan faithful that USC has hit its offensive stride.

Yet, as the Trojan offense inspires confidence going into the Oregon game, the defense raises serious concerns.

While the USC offense regained its balance over the last two games and became a force, the defense has taken steps backward.

Notre Dame scored 27 points against the vaunted Trojan defense and last week, the 36 points given up to Oregon State were the most surrendered by a Trojan defense since the 2005 Rose Bowl against Texas.

This doesn’t bode well for a Trojan team that will face a resurgent Ducks offense that has averaged over 38 points over its last six games.

Granted, many of these points were given up after the Trojans assumed they had the games well in hand, and maybe that is part of the problem.

Assumptions that these games were already won resulted in nail biters for the Trojans who were lucky to leave South Bend with a “w” and made last weeks game against the Beavers much closer than it had to be.

It will be imperative for USC to play a complete game against Oregon when the two teams meet Saturday night if the Trojans expect to win.

A good game by the offensive unit must be matched by the defense or USC will leave Eugene as a two loss team and out of the national title picture and perhaps out of BCS bowl consideration.

It will be crucial for Taylor Mays and company to find itself and contain an Oregon offense that may be the best offense they face all year.

The Oregon defense, who recently lost their best player in Walter Thurmond, will face a Trojan offense that now appears to be on its way to meeting preseason expectations.

However, a Trojan game plan that doesn’t mesh on both sides of the ball will find itself boarding the plane for a sullen trip back home.

The time is now for the Trojans to finally play a complete game.