Oregon and USC haven’t played since 2016, but there’s a chance they play each other twice this season with both sitting atop their respective divisions. The Ducks are widely considered the best team in the Pac-12 and were -4.5 point road favorites with an over/under of 62.5 as of Tuesday.
USC may hold the tiebreaker over Utah in the South division, but there’s no telling what to get from this team every week. The Trojans went from losing to BYU to beating Utah in back-to-back weeks and despite having one conference loss, barely beat three-win Colorado last game.
It’s been a little different for Oregon, though it’s not like it’s destroying opponents, squeaking by with wins against the Washington schools the last two games. That said, even with the early Auburn loss, the Ducks still have a chance at the College Football Playoff, which will require them to win out.
The main difference between these teams is that Oregon has a defense, allowing 101.3 rushing yards and 14.8 points per game. USC hasn’t seen a good defense in almost a month, but it’s hard to overlook the success it had against Utah at home back in September.
By the numbers, Utah’s defense is better than Oregon’s, yet Matt Fink threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns in an upset win. That also came with just 13 rushing yards total from the Trojans. That performance could be enough of a reason to take the home underdog.
Fink is now the backup, but Kedon Slovis has better numbers, completing 72.3% of his passes for 8.8 yards per attempt. While he has five interceptions, he’s tossed eight touchdowns and one interception in the last three games with the help of stud receivers Michael Pittman Jr., Tyler Vaughns, and Amon-Ra St. Brown.
That being the case, USC needs to get some kind of rushing attack going unlike the Utah game. While a freshman and the original fourth running back on the depth chart, Kenan Christon is the starter has just as much talent as the veterans.
Yet while USC’s offense has looked good, its defense is still a problem after keeping Colorado around last game. The Trojans are allowing 189.6 rushing yards per game and that’s not going to cut it against one of the better offensive lines in the conference.
Oregon runs a complete offense, which is bad news for this defense. Quarterback Justin Herbert brings the big name to this group with 21 touchdowns and one interception, but it’s the ground game that will likely stand out in this matchup after CJ Verdell ran for 257 yards last week.
The Ducks are averaging 5.1 yards per carry as a team and Verdell is at 6.7, which should lead to another huge performance given USC’s poor run defense.
USC already beat Utah so it wouldn’t be surprising if it stole another win against a top team in the conference. But it’s hard to ignore the numbers and that Oregon may be the most talented team in the conference on both sides of the ball.
The under is 7-0 in Oregon’s last seven games on grass, while both teams have covered in their last four games following an ATS loss. The over is 5-1 in the last six meetings between these schools and the favorite is 9-2 ATS in the last 11.
Our Pick – Oregon -4