Hey guys, I'm new to the site. I'm an Oregon fan living in Tennessee, so I'm obviously ecstatic that I get to watch the game on bee-yoo-tee-ful HD instead of on my computer. Here are my thoughts about the big game-10/31/09 vs. USC.
I must admit that I'm a little concerned about the amount of confidence that a lot of Oregon fans seem to have about Saturday nights game. Yes, I know Autzen will be hopping on Halloween night, which will definitely be a challenge for Matt Barkley. Yes, I know that this is the best team that Oregon has had in quite a while, and USC looks susceptible. Yes, I know that the secondary, even after losing Thurmond and Glasper, had been an incredible success so far. Yes, I know that LaMichael James has been ridiculous as a RS freshman after LeGarrette owned Byron Hout's jaw.
It's still USC.
They find ways to win. As much as I hate to admit it, Pete Carroll is a brilliant coach. I can't take away anything from him. The man is a football genius-both at recruiting and on-field business. Matt Barkley is one heck of a QB for a true freshman. They have a solid RB corps. They have the 2nd best DB in the country, Taylor Mays (Eric Berry>Mays). They aren't going to go down without a major fight. They haven't lost by more than 7 since '02. That's a testament to how they fight, scrap, and never go down without a fight.
That being said, I still think Oregon will find a way to squeak out a very close win (knock on wood). Somewhere around the score of 34-31 or 27-24.
I see this game playing out as a moderately offensively-dominated game. Obviously, Masoli and James/Alston is quite a dynamic duo. USC lost 3 legit linebackers (Malaluga, Cushing, and Matthews), and the secondary and D-Line are both slightly inexperienced. I don't think the Ducks will have a whole lot of trouble moving the ball. That being said, it might end up tougher than I think. The conditions in Eugene aren't expected to favor an offensive game on Saturday night (around 50 degrees, 70% chance of rain). USC is always talented on defense. They could surprise us all and step up, shutting down the Ducks running game, therefore forcing Masoli to throw the ball more, and taking advantage of a few bad passes under pressure. However, I don't think that will be the case.
Matt Barkley might be the most impressive true freshman QB I have ever seen. The kid is cool under pressure. He's not easily fazed. I'm almost certain that he would've conquered the crowd in Seattle had he not been injured, and they would have beat the Huskies, thus coming into this game with a perfect record. That's not what played out, obviously, but the kid has chutzpah. He's not going to be affected by the crowd at the Zoo as a typical QB. Even with the unfortunate injury to Stafon Johnson, SC still has an experienced and talented group of RB's (Gable, McKnight, etc.). It's going to be a tough task for the Duck defense. Are they up to the challenge? I believe so. I think they're pretty embarrassed of last year's 44-point debacle at the Coliseum. I see the young secondary stepping up once again, as well as Paysinger, Tukuafu, Matthews, and the rest of the front 7. Will they be able to completely shut down USC's dynamic offense? I doubt it. But I think they'll rise to the occasion and do just enough for the Ducks to prevail.
After all that, it just comes down to one thing. Beat Southern Cal.