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Jason says: Ducks' offensive execution wins over game Southern Cal


I thought USC would be much more formidable come Nov. 3, 2012.

Sure, depth issues surround the program. People question coach Lane Kiffin. Maybe the Pac-12's power center had transferred to Eugene, and the Ducks had sprinted too far ahead of the Trojans, the league's longtime power that would be coming off an NCAA bowl ban.

Still, I looked at QB Matt Barkley and his returning arsenal and defensive standouts, and figured the Trojans would be able to put together 46 pretty good players — a two-deep and specialists.

Eight games in, the Trojans just don't pass the eye test. Sure, Barkley, receiver Marquise Lee and others are having great years, but the Trojans just can't seem to put it together.

Oregon enters Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to face the Trojans at 4 p.m. Saturday, and, reversing course from the start of the season when I picked USC to beat the Ducks twice, I gotta believe the visiting team will prevail.

I don't see 2011 repeating itself, when the Trojans and Barkley burst out to a big lead and held off the Ducks to win 38-35.

Actually, I see the 2012 game being much like the 2010 game in L.A., when the Ducks took USC's best shot and trailed 32-29, only to rip off four consecutive touchdowns to finish the game with 599 yards offense and the 53-32 win.

For four quarters, I don't see USC containing the UO offense. The Trojans have decent defensive numbers — 19.5 points (fourth, Pac-12), 366.0 yards offense (sixth), 123.2 yards rushing (fourth), 242.8 yards passing (242.8, fifth) — similar to Oregon's. But it's hard to forget how Arizona's Matt Scott tore up the Trojans with the pass, and I'm thinking Marcus Mariota could do the same thing with Colt Lyerla and Josh Huff (although the Ducks have a mediocre receiving corps), all the while getting the usual run production from Kenjon Barner & Co.

In the end, UO's offensive efficiency will be too much for the game Trojans — as long as Mariota and Barner avoid injuries. And, I also gotta believe the Ducks have saved some offensive plays just for the Trojans (like with De'Anthony Thomas?).

There was some injury uncertainty about linebacker Kiko Alonso and defensive end Dion Jordan this week; having them in the lineup makes the Ducks much more stout on defense. Barkley and his receivers will do their damage, and it's imperative for the Trojans to get some gains out of Silas Redd and other running backs for balance. (Inexplicably, though, the Trojans convert only 32.2 percent on third down).

Another stat too large to ignore: USC ranks last in the Pac-12 in penalties with 82 through eight games, for an average of 84.6 yards per game.

A USC win? Sure, could happen, with Barkley and his teammates smarting from the Arizona loss, out of the national championship picture and playing spoiler, gunning to bring down the Pac-12's new power and No. 2-ranked team in their historic stadium.

But, I think Oregon is just too good to lose.

Jason's Pick: Oregon 44, USC 38