Posted on: November 20, 2011 11:58 am
Edited on: November 20, 2011 12:08 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
A handy recap of who really won and who really lost that you won't find in the box score.
It's hard to get more maligned than the Trojans were. They had their legs chopped off by the NCAA. There were plenty of doubters after back-to-back "down" years. There was no bowl at the end of the season and, to many outside of Heritage Hall, no hope. This team was loaded with enough highly recruited players that coach after coach kept calling USC the most talented team in the Pac-12 however. Still they sat at the lowest ranking in school history with an 8-2 record and couldn't even move up a spot in the polls despite teams losing ahead of them and a blow out win against Washington. It was like Rodney Dangerfield was the athletic director and Lane Kiffin was the head coach.
But this team, young and inexperienced in key spots, took the school's 'Fight On' motto and ran with it. Their losses were self-inflicted (turnovers against both Arizona State and Stanford did them in) but the wins and numbers put up were impressive. The offense is one of the best in the country led by Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and emerging star Marqise Lee. The defense is passable but improving. Yet they were a two touchdown underdog for the first time since 1998. The Trojans shocked the college football world Saturday night in Eugene, no doubt about it. Amid the chaos of a crazy week 12, USC emerged victorious and the players in cardinal and gold told everybody that their brief hiatus away from the top was over. The Trojans may not be conference champs and will sit at home with no bowl game to go to but they appear to be back, even if some insist they never left. Fight on indeed.
LOSER: Larry Scott
There was a chance the Pac-12 was in the BCS re-match discussion come Sunday morning but that ended as soon as it looked like Oregon's slow start would be too much to overcome. Thanks to Arizona State's loss to lowly Arizona, the Pac-12 South is rivaling the SEC East and ACC for mediocrity with USC ineligible. Two-loss Oregon will likely head to the Rose Bowl while one-loss Stanford's BCS chances (and millions of dollars for the conference coffers) will likely boil down to luck and some bowl committee betting on Andrew Luck. The team that can't go to a bowl has inflicted losses that hurt more than one team's perception. Then again, Scott isn't too much of a loser considering the cash that will soon flow to the league with the new media deals he deftly negotiated.
WINNER: The SEC
Let's face it, the fans on the West Coast are not best buddies with those in the Southeast section of the country. The SEC fans think the Pac-12 folks have no earthly idea what defense is while those with an ocean view think those with a gulf view have no idea what offense is. Oregon's loss ended any talk of an LSU rematch and shut the conference out of the title game discussion and partially out of the national picture. On the bright side, they're not the ACC, Big East or Big Ten.
LOSER: Oregon's swagger
The Pac-12 has been Oregon's playground the past few years. Back-to-back league titles (of the Pac-10 variety), a 19 game win streak in the conference, a trip to the Rose Bowl and national championship game. USC's dynasty was cool with the celebrities on the sidelines but the Ducks, they had a different kind of spotlight and a different kind of swagger. Uniforms? Most, um... unique in college football. The recruits love them. Offense? Check and check. If you were playing Oregon, better bring your A-game and you just might hang with them for the first half. The video production team was top-notch too, how could anyone not get pumped up after watching something like this:
The swagger that every Oregon player, every Duck fan, carried around with them after Saturday is still there. There is, without a doubt, a significant part of the luster taken off of the program after the loss to USC however. Boise State, Auburn and LSU proved they were beatable but the Trojans proved they were no longer to be feared afer going into Autzen and smacking the Ducks around for three quarters and holding on in the fourth. Another conference title and Rose Bowl berth likely await the men in green/yellow/black/silver/etc. come January but the recent loss meant a significant hit to Oregon's swagger.
WINNER: Pistol Rick
UCLA's final home game of the season was a must win for Rick Neuheisel if he was to show enough progress to keep his job. Not only did the Bruins get bowl eligble, but they kept their improbable run to a division title alive with a 45-6 win over Colorado. Style points helped too, outgaining the Buffaloes 553-229 and help run off three wins in four games. After last week's loss to Utah, who really knows if the program has turned the corner but for Neuheisel, who wants to win at his alma matter more than anyone else, a big win at the Rose Bowl will certainly go a long ways after the season.
LOSER: Jon Embree
Embree is a Colorado alum and desperately wanted to end the Buffs' 23 game road losing streak. Family bragging rights were up for grabs too as Embree's son, Taylor, was a wide receiver at UCLA and said the game meant "eternal bragging rights" earlier in the week. The younger Embree had just two catches for 13 yards but can always call out scoreboard whenever family arguments break out. Given the way Colorado played - putting a solid claim on being the conference bottom-dweller - there weren't many positive things the elder Embree could take home Saturday.
LOSER: LeBron James
One of several NBA All-Stars at Autzen for the USC-Oregon Game, James and his fellow jobless companions watched most of the game from the Ducks sidelines. With a reputation for failing to close out games, naturally LeBron was a frequent (i.e. easy) target to make fun of on various social media platforms following the loss to the Trojans. It seems as though the man who took his talents to South Beach just can't win so he kind of has to be made a loser this weekend.
WINNER: West Coast Heisman hopes
Andrew Luck lost his grip on the lead for the Heisman Trophy last week but looked much sharper against Cal to help his stock rebound some. The big mover was Matt Barkley, who has the numbers to get to New York and now has the signature win to piggyback on. After this weekend, it seems like both signal-callers will at least make the trip East to lay their claim on college football's most prestigious award.
WINNER: Snow games
Utah has been welcomed to the Pac-12 with open arms and gone from the desert heat of Arizona to the perfect weather of Southern California to - this week against Washington State - the snowy conditions of the Pacific Northwest. The Utes came out with a close, 30-27 overtime win in a Palouse snow storm. The victory gave the Utes hope of making an appearance in the Pac-12 title game and it was fun to see a few photos from so that has to put snow games in the winners column.
LOSER: Pac-12 athletic directors
There's an opening at Arizona and Dennis Erickson's loss to the Wildcats likely means he's headed out of Tempe. Neuheisel's status is still TBD after the season and though there's progress on the Palouse, it's doubtful Paul Wulff keeps his job. That means the athletic directors around the Pac-12, flush with some new media deal cash, will have to go make some important hires. Already the rumor mill has placed Mike Bellotti, Rich Rodriguez and Mike Leach at a school out West and speculation is only bound to heat up more as the regular season winds down. There's going to be plenty of pressure to make the right hire and just as importantly for some ADs, go out on a limb and let a coach go. Going to be an interesting, stress-filled weeks for a few well paid people heading Pac-12 athletic departments.
Tags: ACC, Andrew Luck, Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, BCS, Big East, Big Ten, Boise State, Bryan Fischer, Cal, California, Colorado, Dennis Erickson, Heisman Trophy, Heritage Hall, Jon Embree, Lane Kiffin, Lane Kiffin, Larry Scott, LeBron James, LSU, Marqise Lee, Matt Barkley, Mike Bellotti, Mike Leach, NBA, NCAA, Oregon, Pac-10, Pac-12, Paul Wulff, Rich Rodriguez, Rick Neuheisel, Robert Woods, Rodney Dangerfield, Rose Bowl, SEC, Stanford, Taylor Embree, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State, Week 12 Winners and Losers, Winners and Losers, Winners and Losers Week 12
Posted on: November 20, 2011 1:44 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
STANFORD WINS. The Big Game to all those outside of the Bay Area was last week for the Cardinal and they came up way short in a loss to Oregon. This week however, was The Big Game with crosstown rival California. Looking to rebound, Andrew Luck and company were not too sharp in the first half but, with rain coming down and a torn up field, pulled away in the second half then held on to win with their typical grinding, precision attack 31-28. The sour mood around campus following the loss to the Ducks was temporarily forgotten as the Stanford Axe remains in Palo Alto for the second year in a row.
WHY STANFORD WON. Luck didn't lose the Heisman Trophy last week but he didn't win it either after a sub par performance. He was much sharper against the Golden Bears in what is likely his second to last game at Stanford Stadium, passing for 257 yards and two touchdowns.
WHEN STANFORD WON. Right out of the half, the offense came to play. Luck was on the money with his passes and led an eight play, 69 yard drive followed by a six play, 79 yard drive to give the Cardinal a 28-13 lead going into the 4th quarter. But Zach Maynard found Spencer Hagan to cap a touchdown drive then converted the two point conversion to bring the Bears to within seven. Luck took the ball and led a drive that took 7:41 off the clock and ended with a game-icing field goal. Cal made a late drive for a touchdown but the field goal was the deciding points.
WHAT STANFORD WON. The loss up in Oregon helped the Cardinal but still doesn't mean they have a chance to play for the Rose Bowl. However, their hopes of going to a BCS bowl for the second straight time remain alive and they're sitting in a good position with all of the upsets going on in college football. A win against an average Notre Dame team should provide a boost in the polls and for Luck's Heisman chances.
WHAT CALIFORNIA LOST. The Bears were not only looking to beat their rival but wanted to end the season on a roll going into a bowl game and a renovated Memorial Stadium next year. Instead, they'll have their hands full against an angry Arizona State next week on a Friday.
Posted on: November 20, 2011 12:07 am
Edited on: November 20, 2011 12:31 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WINS. On probation and disrespected, USC was going up to Eugene with nothing but house money to play with. Obviously they were talented - Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and the dynamic newcomer Marqise Lee especially - but they were significant underdogs against an Oregon team that had blown them out their previous two meetings. The Trojans hadn't won in the state of Oregon since 2005* and taken two brutal losses this year to the other top teams in the Pac-12.
USC jumped out to a big lead and held on late as Oregon rallied to within three but pulled off a monumental upset with far-reaching implications after Alejandro Maldonado missed a field goal of 37 yards to preserve a 38-35 win. Two streaks - 21 straight home wins and 19 straight conference victories - were snapped for the Ducks, as were their slim hopes of getting back to the national championship game.
WHY SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WON. Marqise Lee had the best game a Trojan has had in years, finishing with eight catches for 187 yards and a touchdown and made play after play after play when the team needed it. Barkley was big as well, throwing for 323 yards and four touchdowns to get a signature win to hold his hat on in what could be his final year wearing the cardinal and gold. Monte Kiffin's defense also played its part, forcing two fumbles to prevent scores, blocking a punt and containing the Oregon speedsters all night to limit big plays.
WHEN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WON. Coming out of the second half, Oregon went three and out, had their punt blocked and set USC up with a 1st and goal. But the Ducks' defense held the Trojans to just a field goal on the drive - and nearly picked off Barkley - then got a big return from De'Anthony Thomas on the ensuing kick return for a touchdown. It seemed like the momentum had completely flipped at that point, with the Autzen crowd coming alive and LaMichael James capped off a four play drive with a touchdown.
USC came back with an impressive answer on a five play, 76 yard drive in just over two minutes to keep the lead where it was. Monte Kiffin's defense got a stop and it was upset alert with a silent crowd up in Eugene after Barkley found Randal Telfer for a touchdown on the next series to give Oregon their biggest deficit since 2008. The Ducks came roaring back however, scoring 21 straight. It looked like things were headed for overtime with Oregon marching down the field after Barkley fumbled handing off to running back Marc Tyler. Some curious clock management by Chip Kelly left Maldonado with a 37 yard field goal and he missed it to preserve a 38-35 win.
WHAT SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WON. With just one more game left as they serve out their final year of a bowl ban, the Trojans didn't have much more than pride to play for Saturday night. They felt disrespected - the lowest ranking in school history with a 8-2 record - and determined to get back in the national conscious in a big way with their first win in the state of Oregon since 2005. Lane Kiffin's squad jumped out to the early lead and hung on just like so many others haven't. Everybody came into this game saying it was USC's bowl game (their third this season after Notre Dame and Stanford) and they won it to show quite a few people around the country what they're made of.
WHAT OREGON LOST. Given Kelly's persona and his continuous focus on the task at hand, you wonder if he got Phil Knight to pony up some cash to fly in Jim Mora to shout, "Rematch? You're talking about a rematch? You kidding me? Rematch? I just hope we win a game," over and over. That's all everybody was thinking about after beating Stanford, not USC but LSU. Despite an Oklahoma State loss that made a game against the Tigers more likely, Oregon couldn't put the game at hand away and now have to beat rival Oregon State to secure the Pac-12 championship game that looked like a lock at the beginning of the day.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Team Nike filled the sidelines as NBA All-Stars LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul all made their way down to Eugene to check out the football game. LeBron was even throwing the ball around during pre-game warm ups until politely being told by security to move back behind the lines. What's a jobless guy have to do to get some respect? Ducks fans might just be glad he wasn't suited up to play the 4th quarter. Or maybe he was.
Tags: Alejandro Maldonado, Bryan Fischer, Carmelo Anthony, Chip Kelly, Chris Bosh, De'Anthony Thomas, Dwayne Wade, Jim Mora, LaMichael James, LeBron James, LSU, Marc Tyler, Marqise Lee, Matt Barkley, Monte Kiffin, NBA, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Pac-12, Phil Knight, Quick Hits, Quick Hits Week 12, Randal Telfer, Robert Woods, Stanford, USC, Week 12
Posted on: November 19, 2011 3:56 pm
Edited on: November 19, 2011 3:58 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
The regular season is winding down and that can mean only one thing: a deluge of bowl invitations being accepted by schools who have managed to reach the magical .500 mark to become post-season eligible.
The Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl extended an invite to first year independent BYU and the Cougars have accepted, the school announced on their website Saturday afternoon.
“We are pleased to officially extend this invitation to BYU,” said Brant B. Ringler, executive director of the bowl. “Our goal is always to attract schools with a national presence to help us honor the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, and BYU is a great fit as it is a nationally recognized institution with an outstanding fan base.”
The Dallas-based bowl will pit BYU against a Conference USA team. CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm currently predicts SMU will fill the other spot in a game played at the Mustangs' home field, Gerald J. Ford Stadium, on December 30th.
“With the great year that Conference USA is having, the 2011 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl should be a terrific match up,” said BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe. “BYU is excited to return to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to face a tough C-USA team. We are also honored to play in a game that pays tribute to the brave men and women of our armed forces.”
BYU signed a deal with the bowl back in April which gave them an automatic invite if they became bowl eligible and were not under consideration for a BCS game.
Photo by BYU Graphics
Posted on: November 18, 2011 4:26 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Saturday Meal Plan is a helpful guide put together for you to maximize the results of your college football diet. Just enough to leave you feeling full, but not so much you spend your entire Sunday in the bathroom.
It's a bit of a low-carb diet this week thanks to most of the SEC deciding to take the week off and test itself against stalwarts like Georgia Southern and Furman, but that doesn't mean there aren't games out there worthy of your time. Besides, let's be honest with ourselves. We didn't really want to say anything to you about it, but you've been gorging on some great games the last few months and you're starting to get a bit pudgy around the edges.
You could use some lighter fare this weekend.
#18 Michigan vs. #16 Nebraska - ESPN 12pm ET
Michigan State may have the Legends division title all but sewn up, but if there's an at-large BCS bid to be had, it'll probably come from the winner of this game. As for reasons to watch instead of just care, come on. It's Denard Robinson. It's Rex Burkhead. There'll be some highlight plays in this one. - Adam Jacobi
Illinois vs. #17 Wisconsin - ESPN2 12pm ET
It's probably no exaggeration to say that Ron Zook's job at Illinois is on the line in this game; Zook, now the second-most tenured coach in the Big Ten, has seen his team drop four straight games and look listless in the process. Montee Ball would be happy to contribute a touchdown or five to Zook's going-away party, but can Illinois' stout defense save the day -- and the coach? - AJ
Rutgers vs. Cincinnati - ESPNU 12pm ET
After only winning one conference game in 2010 (Greg Schiano's worst conference record since 2004) and finishing dead last, the Scarlet Knights are in the hunt for BCS bowl bid. The Bearcats have lost starting quarterback Zach Collaros for the season to an ankle injury, and now sophomore Munchie Legaux will face a the best defense in the conference to try and bounce back from their first league loss. Cincinnati still holds one game on the rest of the conference, and can win the title outright if they win out. Rutgers needs to win out as well, but also get some help to win the tie-breaker. The Big East slate is thin this weekend, but there will be enough on the line to expect the best effort from both teams. - Chip Patterson
#14 Georgia vs. Kentucky - SEC Network 12:21pm ET
There's one reason to tune into this game and one reason alone: to see how the Bulldogs react to winning the SEC East for the first time since 2005. As a competitive contest, well, one of these teams defeated Auburn by 38 points last week, while the other lost by 30 to Vanderbilt. Still, it's not every day you get to see how Mark Richt reacts to a Gatorade shower. - Jerry Hinnen
#6 Arkansas vs. Mississippi State - CBS 3:30pm ET
Dan Mullen's Bulldogs gave Bobby Petrino's Razorbacks fits last season, taking the eventual Sugar Bowl representatives into overtime. Could they do the same this year, with a potential SEC West title still on the line for the Hogs and the game in Little Rock? A somnabulant offense says "probably not", but in corner Johnathan Banks and tackle Fletcher Cox, the Bulldogs do have the defensive weapons to at least slow down Tyler Wilson and Co. - JH
Ohio State vs. #21 Penn State - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
For the multitudes of distractions facing Penn State, it still has two tough games to play, and it still has a division lead to protect. The Nittany Lions' first step is taking on an up-and-down Ohio State team that's going to try to wear down the PSU defense with its troika of tailbacks and dual-threat (if you can call his arm a threat) QB Braxton Miller. This'll be a classic Big Ten game, with pads a-popping, defenses a-stifling, and running backs a-barreling for four quarters. - AJ
N.C. State vs. #7 Clemson - ABC/ESPN 3:30pm ET
This all be the ultimate test of focus for Dabo Swinney's young squad. The Tigers set goals to win the division, state championship, and ACC Championship. With the division clinched and South Carolina waiting next week, Clemson could lose to the Wolfpack and still accomplish their goals. NC State needs to beat Clemson and Maryland in order to be bowl eligible for the second straight season. The Tigers have an outside shot to still make a BCS bowl game if they lose in the ACC Championship, but even those long odds would be erased with a loss on Saturday. Both teams are explosive and capable of scoring quickly, so expect the unexpected in this ACC battle. - CP
Missouri vs. Texas Tech - ABC 3:30pm ET
A bit of a last stand for Texas Tech, which has lost five of its last six games after starting the season 4-0. The Red Raiders still need one more win to become bowl eligible, and it won't be easy to get there. Missouri is a team that's proven it's capable of beating anybody in the Big 12 on any given Saturday, though you do have to wonder how this team will perform on its Senior Day without Gary Pinkel who is serving a suspension for a DWI arrest earlier this week. - Tom Fornelli
#25 Florida State vs. Virginia - ESPN2 7:30pm ET
The Seminoles are on a five-game game winning streak since EJ Manuel returned to the starting lineup, averaging over 35 points per game. But the "turnaround" from the early season setbacks has been not only the result of improved play from Florida State, but also the advantage of facing much more favorable competition. Four the teams in the streak have defenses ranked in the bottom half of the ACC, and other game was the 34-0 shutout of NC State at home. Virginia's defense ranks third in the ACC, and the Cavaliers are arguably just as hot winning five of their last six. Mike London's new power rushing attack has helped the team reach bowl eligibility in just his second year, but Saturday will be a true test of how "legit" this ACC Coastal contender is heading into the postseason. - CP
#4 Oregon vs. USC - ABC 8pm ET
Like offense? This game is for you. The Ducks are well on their way to another conference title and can clinch hosting the first ever Pac-12 Championship game with a win. The Trojans have designs on an upset however and it's not out of the realm of possibilities with Matt Barkley and Robert Woods on the field. - Bryan Fischer
#22 Baylor vs. #5 Oklahoma - ABC 8pm ET
So far this season Baylor has lived on beating the lower-tiered teams of the Big 12 and struggling against the conference's best. This is the Bears last chance at a marquee victory in 2011, and it's probably catching Oklahoma at the best possible time. The Sooners have lost Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles to knee injuries the last couple of weeks, and while there's never a good time to suffer such blows on offense, it hurts a bit more when you have to go head-to-head with Baylor's offense. There could be a big upset brewing in Waco. - TF
#23 Texas vs. #13 Kansas State - FX 8pm ET
Here's something you might not know: Kansas State has beaten Texas the last three times the schools have met, with Texas' last victory over the Wildcats coming in 2003. It's a losing streak that the Longhorns would really like to put an end to, though it won't be easy against a Kansas State offense built around Collin Klein. This should be a pretty interesting matchup boasting the Big 12's best run defense and its best running quarterback/battering ram. - TF
LATE NIGHT SNACK
#9 Stanford vs. Cal - ESPN 10:15pm ET
The band won't be on the field for this one (well, they will, but at halftime not on the final play) but the Big Game will still have plenty of memorable moments when you consider that Andrew Luck is playing and looking to make up for last week's loss. - BF
Tags: ACC, Adam Jacobi, Andrew Luck, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor, Big 12, Big East, Big Ten, Bobby Petrino, Braxton Miller, Bryan Fischer, Cal, Chip Patterson, Cincinnati, Clemson, Collin Klein, Dabo Swinney, Dan Mullen, Denard Robinson, Dominique Whaley, E.J. Manuel, Fletcher Cox, Florida State, Gary Pinkel, Georgia, Greg Schiano, Illinois, Jerry Hinnen, Johnathan Banks, Kansas State, Kentucky, Mark Richt, Maryland, Matt Barkley, Michigan, Mike London, Mississippi State, Missouri, Montee Ball, Munchie Legaux, N.C. State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pac-12, Penn State, Rex Burkhead, Robert Woods, Ron Zook, Rutgers, Ryan Broyles, Saturday Meal Plan, SEC, South Carolina, Stanford, Texas, Texas Tech, Tom Fornelli, Tyler Wilson, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wisconsin, Zach Collaros
Posted on: November 16, 2011 8:33 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 8:35 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
2012 will mark the end of several historic rivalries (Texas-Texas A&M and Missouri-Kansas to name a few) due to conference realignment and while the school shuffling won't end any of the Pac-12's longstanding rivalry games, it might force a few of them to move to a different date on the calendar.
According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, games such as the Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State and the Big Game between Stanford and California could be moved from their traditional late November dates to earlier in the month or even October.
“Given the complexities of the scheduling,” Pac-12 deputy commissioner Kevin Weiberg told Jon Wilner, “we can’t commit to having the rivalry games stay on Thanksgiving week or the weekend before Thanksgiving.”
Obviously the league office is going to try to be as accommodating as possible and will look to minimize the scheduling issues but with the new Pac-12 media deal with ESPN/Fox starting next year and the launch of the Pac-12 Network, it's likely that not every game will be able to stay in its traditional spot on the schedule. The report notes that the number of Saturdays in the month of November will likely determine how many and which games move. Sources told Wilner that the Bay Area game is the most likely to be moved next season.
One of the best things about football in the conference formerly known as the Pac-10 was that each school had a natural rival in the state that made for a continent travel partner. The move to the Pac-12 will fill the coffers every athletic department but if there's a price to be paid, it's that they might have an earlier than usual rivalry game.
It might be disruptive to a few and upsetting for some fans but looks like something that nobody can do anything about.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 12:28 pm
Posted by Bryan Fischer
Plenty to talk about in this week's Free Bruce Podcast as Bruce Feldman and Bryan Fischer chat with Chris Huston, the publisher of HeismanPundit.com. The guys talk about who's leading the Heisman Trophy race, if a player from a BCS non-AQ team can win the award and what are some of the important factors to keep in mind about winning the trophy.
Remember, all of the CBSSports.com College Football Podcasts can be downloaded for FREE from the iTunes Store.
You can listen to the podcast in the player below, pop out a player to keep browsing, or download the MP3 right to your computer.
Keep up with the latest college football news from around the country. From the regular season all the way through the bowl games, CBSSports.com has you covered with this daily newsletter. | Preview
Posted on: November 15, 2011 11:41 am
Posted by Bryan Fischer
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WILL WIN IF: The Trojans have retooled on defense with faster linebackers and are better equipped to handle the Ducks speed than they have been in previous years. Creating stops are as important as containing big plays and getting the ball back to an offense that has more weapons than anybody Oregon has seen all years. The emergence of Curtis McNeal and Marc Tyler have given a nice boost to the running game and they'll need to continue to have Robert Woods and Marqise Lee making big plays if USC wants to pull off the upset.
OREGON WILL WIN IF: The game plan is always the same for the Ducks, apply pressure by scoring quickly on offense and apply pressure - more literally - on defense by being aggressive with the front seven. Chip Kelly was very aggressive against Stanford and we'll see if he continues to keep that up against a team that has a lot more athletes that can create big plays on both sides of the ball. Oregon is in the driver's seat for the Rose Bowl and could even be playing for a rematch in the BCS title game so don't be surprised if they want some style points on national television and for Heisman Trophy candidiate LaMichael James.
X-FACTOR: Matt Barkley turnovers. USC has been in games with Oregon for a half but, like most of the Ducks opponents, have fallen apart in the second half. If Matt Barkley continues to be efficient in the passing game and spreads the ball around to his receivers, the Trojans have a chance. If he turns the ball over once or twice though, it will be hard to see an upset. The margin is just that thin for this team but no doubt they have the talent to get a win if Barkley plays well.