USC turned to Vegas for motivation

LOS ANGELES -- USC assistant coach Monte Kiffin said the Trojans used their extreme underdog status leading into Saturday's game against Oregon as a way to motivate their players.

In fact, Kiffin told his Trojans just how much the Ducks were favored to win by in Las Vegas and emphasized to them all week that few people believed they could pull off the upset. USC defeated then-No. 4 Oregon, 38-35, on the road at Autzen Stadium.

"On Monday, I was checking the point spread," Kiffin said Monday on the Mason & Ireland Show on 710 ESPN radio. "I loved it. I put it on the first time we met, Tuesday morning, with the defense and I said, '19-point underdog? Are you kidding me?' We were eight-and-a-half point [underdogs] at Notre Dame and we thought that was a lot.

"Bring it on, baby. I love it."

Most Las Vegas sports betting lines had Oregon favored by about 16 points at the start of the week. That was lowered to around 14.5 points by kickoff on Saturday, meaning most people bet in favor of USC during the week.

"I'll tell you what now, when you look at that, I really do think it was a heck of an upset," Kiffin said.

Kiffin and his son Lane, the Trojans' head coach, have often said they pay little to no attention to point spreads. But both men made frequent reference to USC's upset over the Irish in October, and Lane talked often last week about the benefit of being an underdog before the Oregon game.

"A lot of times in these games the pressure goes the other way with a team that has a chance to go to the national championship still," Lane Kiffin said before the game. "We'll just go up there, have some fun and see what happens."

Pedro Moura covers USC for ESPNLosAngeles.com.