Saturday, November 19, 2011

Recipe For USC Upset Over Oregon

USC can beat Oregon. Sounds far-fetched, but it can happen.

It all starts with the offensive line, which is led by Matt Kalil, one of the top ten linemen in the country. Stellar run-blocking for Curtis McNeal and Marc Tyler can not only lead to points but can also eat up the clock and keep that fearsome Oregon offense off the field.

The second key is QB Matt Barkley, who has 29 TD passes and only six interceptions. That's impressive, but if SC is to pull off an upset, he must play even better. That might not be easy since WR Robert Woods is banged up.  But here's a secret. Though Woods gets all the attention, the other receiver, Marquise Lee, is actually superior.

The third key is Monte Kiffin's defense which, in the last month, has blossomed into a ferocious force. In the last five games--Stanford being the exception--the SC defense has not given up more than 17 points. The steadily improving run defense has crept into the national top ten.

For SC to win, it needs considerable help from Oregon. This means the Ducks must have an off game, contributing at least four turnovers to the Trojans' cause.

Several things are working against SC. First of all, the Oregon defense, once considered the team's weak link, has turned into one of the best in the conference. Also, whipping Oregon at Autzen Stadium is nearly impossible. Just as impossible is slowing down that race-horse offense. Only LSU, with that Rock-of-Gibraltar defense, has held the Ducks' offense below 34 points. By the way, SC is averaging 34 points per game. So, to win, SC must top its scoring average while keeping Oregon in the five-touchdown range. Not an easy task.

Beating Oregon is definitely a long shot, but certainly possible. If the Trojans can play a close, competitive game, like they did against Stanford, that will be a victory in itself.