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The Countdown: USC is Oregon's last major hurdle of the regular season; are the Trojans up to the task?

As the last strains of "A Fifth of Beethoven" faded from the jukebox, little Charlie Kelly had a glint of hope in his eye. No matter what happens in my life, he thought to himself, I'll always have disco.
As the last strains of "A Fifth of Beethoven" faded from the jukebox, little Charlie Kelly had a glint of hope in his eye. No matter what happens in my life, he thought to himself, I'll always have disco.

Before the countdown, Twitter-sized recaps of every Oregon-USC game since I started college.

2005: Leinart and Bush play "just the tip", deliver a CK-like 3rd Q stomping. Ducks rush for 65 yrds total, lose 45-13. Win later vacated by cheaters.
2006: 3 TDs for Chauncey Washington, Oregon doesn't score for 2 1/2 quarters, Brady Leaf throws Ducks only TD pass. 35-10 Trojans.
2007:Mark Sanchez - Imma try and tie this game up cuz I'm so sexy. Matthew Harper - Yoink! Mark Sanchez - :(  24-17 Ducks.
2008: 332 yards, 12 yards per attempt, 3 TDs. That's one Dirty Sanchez. Also, 60 yrds rushing 4 Oregon. 44-10 Trojans
2009: Masoli - 386 total yrds. LMJ? 183 yrds and a TD. Ducks 613 yrds of O most all-time against USC. 24-17 UO @ half,  final 47-20 Ducks.
2010: 239 for LMJ, DT throws 4 TD passes, 3 to the Maehlman including "The Juggler". 53-32 Ducks, first win in Coliseum since 2000.

The USC game was my first as a collegian, and I remember leaving the stadium after Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and LenDale White, and Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith completely eviscerated a telented Oregon defense thinking, "That was the best offense I have ever seen." Little did I know, Mike Bellotti would find a guy in New Hampshire who would alter the landscape of how offense works in college football. On to the countdown!

Reason #1 why Oregon will beat USC: They're playing the game at Autzen Stadium. As head coach of the Oregon Ducks, Chip Kelly has never lost a football game at home. 18-0. That number may not be as impressive as his 31-5 career record, or his 24-1 Pac-10/12 record, but the gravity of the statistic is significant: play Oregon at home, and you are going to lose. For all the criticism that the Autzen crowd has drawn this year for being not as intense or boisterous, it is still the Autzen Zoo, the House of Loud, the Swirling Deathf*** of Chaos and Abject Failure. After last week's win over Stanford, a statement made by Oregon that sounded like the dull thud of Andrew Luck's Heisman campaign slamming into the side of a mountain, the Duck faithful are primed and ready for the opening act of, potentially, a home game trilogy.

Reason #2 why Oregon will beat USC: Depth. The Ducks are the deeper team on both sides of the ball, due both to USC's injury woes and their sanction-induced roster depletion. To beat a Chip Kelly team, you either need a deep pool of talent and a personnel rotation that keeps everybody fresh, or you need to be okay with losing the second half 31-6.

Reason #3 why Oregon will beat USC: Oregon's D is playing its best. Oregon's front seven have been the reason why, in their last two games, the Ducks have held two consecutive quality opponents to season lows in points. The defense as a whole is doing a number of things they weren't doing at the beginning of the year, when many Duck fans were questioning their ability to play at an elite level: forcing turnovers, getting pressure on the quarterback, and shoring up coverage in the pass game. Continuing the stellar play will be no easy task against the Trojans, though that load will be eased a bit with standout OT Matt Kalil and WR Robert Woods both battling injuries.

Reason #4 why Oregon will beat USC: a sizeable coaching advantage. Lane Kiffin has shown his ability to do many things as a head coach: he's a talented recruiter, he's a clever offensive playcaller, and has an ability to piss other people off with his words that you just can't teach. But as an in-game coach, one who has to manage both sides of the ball and make quick gameplan adjustments, he hasn't proven to be anything special. And when compared to Chip Kelly, who might be the best coach in college football in terms of first half-second half gameplan and making in-game adjustments, it just isn't a fair fight. Put the rock away Lane, that guy over there has a shotgun. And he's staring at you.

Reason #5 why Oregon will beat USC: De'Anthony Thomas. He's had to field questions all week about his recruitment, Southern California, and what actually transpired that brought him to Eugene. You think he's ready to just hit the field and run past people? My guess? A receiving TD and a kickoff return to the house make Lane Kiffin feel even worse about not landing him last recruiting season.


Reason #1 why USC beats Oregon: This is all they got. In their second year of bowl ineligibility, the Trojan team has done an admirable job of staying focused without a real end-of-season goal to shoot for. But I'm sure they circled two games on their schedule as being especially important. They took Stanford to the brink in gam #1. But this is the biggie. The Ducks snatched away their Pac-10 crown and wore it making USC hit themselves in the face with their own arms. A win Saturday would exact revenge for the beating they endured at home last season, and for 2009, when the Halloween night whipping shifted the balance of power in the Pac, and sent the Trojans spiraling down to the Emerald Bowl.

Reason #2 why USC beats Oregon: they have the tools to hang in a shootout.  With Oregon's offense as high-risk as it is, they are beatable if a team can climb on top early and score enough to hang on (see Stanford, 2009). With weapons like Matt Barkley, Curtis McNeal, Robert Woods, and Marquise Lee, the Trojans have the offensive firepower to score. If the offense starts slow, or the defense regresses, this game will be winnable for USC.

Reason #3 why USC beats Oregon: Matt Barkley is due. He's 0-2 against Oregon, and any quarterback who's worth anything has beaten Oregon at least once. Andrew Luck has done it. Cam Newton and Terrelle Pryor did it. Kellen Moore has done it twice! You know who never beat the Ducks? Jake Locker. And do you really want to be mentioned in the same category as Jake Locker, Matt Barkley? I didn't think so.

Was this just a way to mention that Jake Locker is 0-3 lifetime against the Ducks? Yes, yes it was. This may be USC Sucks week, but I still hate washington.

Reason #4 why USC beats Oregon: Food poisoning strikes the Oregon football team, and the Ducks are forced to start Dustin Haines and Ayele Forde in the backfield. Though even then, I think we'd only lose by like 10.

Reason #5 why USC beats Oregon: It just seems like some shit they'd do. All the Ducks want to do is win three more games and see about which BCS bowl they'll be attending. USC doesn't have to win this game for anything; they'll be staying home for bowl season regardless of Saturday's outcome. The Ducks are riding high of this season's signature win, have put themselves back in the national championship race, and have reestablished their place as the darling of the conference. So it would just be like the Trojans to ride into Eugene and suck the fun out of everything. Man, USC sucks.