LOS ANGELES -- Oregon has been way too much for USC to handle the last two seasons, racking up 100 points in two blowout wins. What will be the key for USC to stick with and possibly beat the No. 4 ranked Ducks?
How do you see this game playing out Saturday in Eugene?
Garry Paskwietz: I think this is going to be a high-scoring affair, and the onus is going to be on the Trojans offense to score enough points to come away with a victory. It wouldn't surprise me at all if this game turned out to be similar to the Stanford game, with both offenses playing at a very high level and the defenses not being able to do much to stop them.
Matt Barkley has to be "on" for the Trojans to win. The situation with Robert Woods' injury will play itself out -- Woods either will be ready or he won't. Barkley can't worry about that. He has to go with whatever is working that day and make sure to keep pace with the Oregon offense. The past two years, Barkley was able to keep pace for a while before the Ducks eventually pulled away. It will be up to Barkley to not let that happen again.
He will need help, of course, from the USC defense. Chances are they won't shut down Oregon, but a stop here and there certainly would help. The Trojans also are feeling good these days about their special teams. They will need all of it to get the victory in this one.
Steve Bisheff: Clearly, this is USC's biggest challenge of the season. Oregon is the best team the Trojans have played.
I think it will be a relatively high-scoring game. I'm just not sure the USC defense, even though it is vastly improved, can slow down that mega-speed offense of the Ducks. They have so many weapons. But if Monte Kiffin can somehow figure out a way to make it into more of a passing game, the Trojans have a big chance.
This is Matt Barkley's ultimate litmus test as far as maintaining his poise and composure. If he can do it, and LaMichael James and Co. can be reined in a little, this could wind up a 42-35 shootout kind of game. If not, I see Oregon winning again by a score not too different from what we've seen the past couple of years.
Greg Katz: First and foremost, I hope that the weather will cooperate long enough so that it doesn't affect either team. Cold is one thing, but rain and/or snow showers would take away from the luster. If there's an edge here, obviously it would go to the Ducks.
I actually see the game as a series of unanswered questions. If Oregon's offense gets off early or in the second half, what's the response by the Trojans when Autzen Stadium goes crazy? How advanced have the Trojans become on defense, especially Monte Kiffin's strategy in dealing with the spread option? Will the Trojans pay a price by starting three freshmen linebackers in such a hostile environment? Can the Trojans offensive line prove that they, too, have advanced to the point of controlling the Ducks underrated front seven? Will the injured Robert Woods play or even be a factor? Will Matt Barkley's performance play a role in his decision to head to the NFL?
One thing I know -- the Trojans are confident heading north. The good news is the Men of Troy are ready to compete, but the bad news is that Oregon is really good, advanced enough to deserve consideration as a nominee for the BCS title game.
Kyle Williams: If you want to see what Pac-12 football is about, then turn on your TV Saturday night and find out. Unlike the LSU-Alabama game, which was an SEC defensive showdown, this weekend in Eugene, both offenses will explode and showcase what the Pac-12 is. While Oregon has been playing at a high level on offense for most of the year, the Trojans have been getting better and better and look to be peaking just in time for this game.
Going into this game, there is going to be a lot of scheming and game-planning to somehow come out of Eugene with a win. At the end of the night, the Trojans must win in one category in particular and that's total number of plays. If the Trojans can win this battle, by keeping their offense on the field and Oregon's off it, then USC has a chance. However, if they can't convert on third down, fourth down, or if they turn the ball over, it puts their defense right back on the field. With Oregon's high tempo offense, the Trojans will not be able to keep up with them, especially late in the game.