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Why Oregon football will beat USC: Three keys to victory

Why Oregon football will beat USC: Three keys to victory

No. 7 Oregon is the only remaining team in the North Division without a loss and looking to stay on the path to the Pac-12 Championship game. The Ducks (7-1, 5-0 Pac-12) are looking for their seventh-straight victory to improve to 6-0 in Pac-12 play for the first time since 2012. USC (5-3, 4-1) is tied for first with Utah in the Pac-12 South division.

Numbers to know: Under head coach Mario Cristobal, Oregon is 9-0 when it rushes for 200 yards in a game.

Fun fact: USC has four players from Oregon on its roster, compared to the 48 Californians on Oregon’s roster.

[READ: Juwan Johnson has a sour taste for USC]

Betting line: Oregon is a road favorite. The Ducks opened as 4.5-point favorites against the Trojans. The over/under is 62.5 total points.

Three keys to an Oregon win

In a game that I’m expecting to be tight, there are three things the Ducks must do be victorious in Los Angeles.

1. Win turnover battle

The Ducks lead the nation in interceptions and lead the conference in turnover margin. UO’s secondary has eight interceptions in the last three games but also got burned by WSU and UW. The Ducks defensive backs need to return to dominance against probably the best receiving corps (including Michael Pittman Jr., Mycah Pittman’s older brother) in the conference.

If Oregon can continue to play mistake free (they have zero giveaways in five of their last six games) the Ducks have a huge upper hand. Quarterback Justin Herbert has just one interception over his last 360 pass attempts in Pac- 12 road games with 24 touchdowns over that span.

2. Run, Verdell (or whoever has the hot hand), Run!

Oregon’s rushing attack has been explosive as of late, thanks to impressive performances from sophomores CJ Verdell and Cyrus Habibi-Likio. Verdell leads the Pac-12 in rushing (753) following his 257-yard performance last week against Washington State. His 313 all-purpose yards against the Cougars are the most by an FBS player this season.

USC is giving up close to 200 rushing yards per game. The Trojans ninth ranked rushing defense in the conference provides an opportunity for Oregon’s running backs to control the game.

3. Pressure Kedon Slovis

Despite injuries at the quarterback position, the Trojans own the 20th ranked passing offense in the country, second in the Pac-12.  Since missing the Washington game, quarterback Kedon Slovis has been very accurate, with a 68 percent passing completion rate, eight touchdowns and a pick in his last three games, coming off of a 406 yards and four-touchdown performance vs. Colorado.

Oregon’s defense had its fair share of struggles against Washington State. The Ducks struggled getting pressure on quarterback Anthony Gordon, had no answer to his quick passes and committed uncharacteristic, unsportsmanlike penalties.

Basically, that can’t happen for Oregon to be victorious.

How and where to watch

Time: Saturday, November 2 at 5 p.m. (PT)

Where: LA Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California

TV: FOX

Radio: Portland on 1080 "The Fan", Eugene on KUGN-AM 590

More Ducks:

Dana Shough's fight and win over breast cancer the "largest championship game" she's ever been in

Juwan Johnson has a sour taste for USC

Oh, brother! Oregon’s Mycah Pittman vs. USC’s Michael Pittman

10 numbers to know: Oregon Ducks vs. USC Trojans

Positive Oregon injury updates: The Dye Brothers vs. USC

Oregon Ducks' mindset inspired by Tiger Woods

Oregon vs. Montana: 10 numbers to know

Oregon vs. Montana: 10 numbers to know

Pac-12 after dark could get ugly this week in No. 15 Oregon’s matchup against Montana. The Ducks’ massively overmatch the Griz in their final non-conference game, which kicks off at 7:45 pm in Autzen Stadium in Eugene. Montana has won four of their last five road games and look to improve to 3-0 with a monster road upset over Oregon (1-1).

The Ducks and coach Mario Cristobal aren’t looking past Montana to their Pac-12 Conference opener at Stanford and neither should you. Here are 10 stats and numbers you need to know to be the fan dropping knowledge at the tailgate:

1. INJURY UPDATES

Oregon has yet to see two of its largest offensive weapons play this season and the wait may continue. Cristobal gave an injury update on senior wide receiver Juwan Johnson and junior tight end Cam McCormick.

Johnson’s (leg) availability is likely a Friday or Saturday decision. "It’s a soft tissue thing, so we expect progress and it’s going to be close," Cristobal said. "I think now we’re coming around to this thing could actually be a go.” McCormick (ankle) is unlikely to play this week and is eyeing a return for Oregon's Pac-12 opener at Stanford. The 6-foot-5, 260-pound pass catcher went through pregame warm-ups prior to the season opener against Auburn but not before last week’s game against Nevada.

2. EAGER PITTMAN

True freshman receiver Mycah Pittman, who was expected to contribute or possibly start this season, suffered a shoulder injury in a fall scrimmage that was supposed to sideline him for six to eight weeks. Pittman tweeted, "2 more weekkksss!" on Sunday, implying a quicker than expected return.

Cristobal addressed the tweet that excited fans who are anxious to watch one of the most praised incoming freshman from teammates and coaches.

“I know everyone is excited about Mycah’s tweet," Cristobal said. "He’s pretty ambitious. We’ve still got to wait a little bit, but he’s getting better. We hope to have him with us in a couple of weeks practicing again."

The initial 6-8 weeks projection would mark Pittman healthy as early as Oregon’s game against Cal on Oct. 5.

3. CRISTOBAL ON FIRE AT HOME

Oregon is looking to improve to 8-1 at home under coach Cristobal.

4. THE SHOUGH SHOW

Back-up quarterback has been a point of contention for Oregon in the last five seasons. The Ducks have seen countless quarterbacks transfer away, leaving a void: Bryan Bennett, Terry Wilson, Travis Jonsen, Braxton Burmeister, etc.

This season, four-star quarterback Tyler Shough has earned the back-up role behind senior Justin Herbert. Shough found success in the home opener and gave fans a little insight into the future as Herbert’s heir. In the most substantial playing time of his career, Shough threw his first college pass and finished 8-of-9 for 92 yards and two touchdowns.

His performance wasn’t the type of awe-inspiring play that causes someone to bet Oregon will win the national championship next season. However, Shough made solid decisions, showed his accurate arm and toughness under pressure. He also used his legs to rush for 11 yards and made a couple heads up plays including one flick to tight end Spencer Webb while getting blitzed on third and nine.

“He was accurate and made a play with his feet as well, got outside the pocket, got tripped up or he would have gone for a little bit more,” Cristobal said. “We felt that since spring, his progress has been great. We trust him to go in there and make plays.”

5. HELLO, FUNA!

The highest ranked linebacker recruit in school history, Mase Funa, is already making an impact for Oregon. The Mater Dei High School alum is the only freshman to have two sacks in a game this season in the FBS. Funa’s four tackles for loss currently lead the Pac-12.

6. DEFENSE TURNING HEADS UNDER ANDY AVALOS

Oregon’s defense has dominated through the first two games of the season under defensive coordinator Andy Avalos. Opponents have reached Oregon territory just 10 times in 30 drives. Oregon’s defense has not allowed a first half touchdown in four consecutive games (28 drives). Also, the Ducks forced four turnovers against Nevada that resulted in 28 points.

7. A DUCK WIN WOULD…

Mark Oregon's 25th consecutive nonconference home win.

Improve Oregon to 8-0-1 against Montana.

Be Oregon's 11th win in the last 12 games at Autzen Stadium.

8. “MR. ELECTRICITY”

Montana senior punt returner Jerry Louie-McGee or “Mr. Electricity” earned ROOT Sports Big Sky Conference Special Teams Player of the Week after juking his way to a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown. Louie-McGee is the Griz’s special teams star and speed threat at wide receiver. In Saturday’s victory, he averaged 30 yards per kick on five returns for a total of 150 yards - the most in a game of any player in FCS football so far this season by a nearly 40-yards.

9. GRIZ QUARTERBACK IS “HEART AND SOUL OF THE TEAM”

Quarterback Dalton Sneed a fifth-year senior that has impressed Cristobal.

“(Sneed is) very tough, will throw his body around, there’s no hesitation in his game whatsoever,” Cristobal said. “The ball is out quick and it’s accurate. I think he’s a special player.”

Sneed has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 696 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions this season.

10. HIGH-FLYIN’ GRIZ

Montana totaled 520 yards of offense in their victory over North Alabama last Saturday. The Grizzlies have the No. 7 passing and total offense in the FCS.

BONUS

The Ducks opened as five-touchdown favorites over Montana. Currently, the Ducks are 36.5 point favorites. 

Oregon's likelihood to win Pac-12 title surges

Oregon's likelihood to win Pac-12 title surges

Oregon got its first win of the 2019 football season in a big way, dominating Nevada 77-6 on Saturday. The No. 15 Ducks’ 77 points tied a program modern era record, the Autzen Stadium scoring record and paid up as three-touchdown favorites.

The Ducks are five touchdown favorites in week two. Next up, Oregon hosts Montana (2-0) in its non-conference finale. The Ducks overmatch the Grizzlies and it shows in the betting line, in which Oregon is favored by 36.5 points.

By the way, the Ducks odds are now bettable at the Chinook Winds Casino sportsbook in Lincoln City, Oregon.

The home opener blowout eased knee-jerk concerns that UO couldn’t contend in the Pac-12 Conference after losing to No. 8 Auburn.

Oregon’s scoreboard wasn’t the only interesting Pac-12 scoreboard in week two. Cal upset then-No. 14 Washington after more than two and a half hour delay because of severe weather. USC rolled to a 45-20 victory over then-No. 23 Stanford behind freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis in his first start. Utah and Washington State both dominated.

In short, the conference title is wide open.

Oregon opened 2019 with a 35.2 percent chance of winning the Pac-12 North and conference title, according to ESPN’ s football power index. Following week two, Oregon's likelihood to win the division and the title have surged to 52.4 percent. Utah is second with a 19.7 percent projection to win the conference championship game.

Oregon’s current win-loss total projection is 9.9 wins. The Ducks are projected to win in the rest of their games. The lowest win-probable game? Oregon’s game at USC on Nov. 2nd where the FPI gives the Ducks a 61.1 percent chance to beat the Trojans.

What do you think will be Oregon's toughest game?

 

Underdog Ducks vs. Auburn betting line shifts

Underdog Ducks vs. Auburn betting line shifts

Money began pouring in on the underdog Ducks when the Oregon-Auburn line opened as high as Auburn as 6.5 point favorites at some offshore sportsbooks.

The line moved to Auburn -2.5 before shifting to Auburn -3 in the most recent odds, according to Bovada. The over/under line has been set at 58.5 points.

Despite being three point underdogs, Oregon is ranked higher (No. 12 Oregon, No. 17 Auburn in NCAA Preseason poll) and has shorter national championship odds (Oregon 30-to-1, Auburn 50-1).

The Ducks narrowly edged the reigning conference champion Washington Huskies to win the North Division in the Pac-12 Conference media poll.

Optimism is high for Oregon football’s 2019 season and beating the Tigers will essentially make or break the team’s College Football Playoff hopes. A win sends the Ducks and the Pac-12 Conference into national relevancy, and a loss initiates an uphill fight; no team has ever rebounded from a week one loss to make the final field of four.

The 2019 season opener will be a rematch of the 2011 BCS title game where Auburn beat Oregon, 22-19, on game winning field goal as time expired.

It’ll be all eyes on the polarizing matchup, with ESPN’s College Game Day in attendance plus ABC’s Saturday Night Football broadcast.

The anticipation is palpable and here is why I think Oregon will walk out of Texas victorious.

Oregon most bet on team in the NCAA Tournament: Should you take the gamble?

Oregon most bet on team in the NCAA Tournament: Should you take the gamble?

The NCAA Tournament announcement comes with the excitement of filling out your bracket and maybe placing some bets.

Every year, March is a little mad, which causes fans to study and search for their Cinderella(s) and sure bets. Will Saint Mary’s pull the upset over Villanova? Are you picking UC Irvine to be the next UMBC? What about the Ducks?

No. 12 seed Oregon will play No. 5 seed Wisconsin in the first round of the South Region. The latest line has Wisconsin as a 1-point favorite and a 118 total point over/under (lowest of any first-round game in the NCAA Tournament). Turns out, the matchup has become the most bet on game in the NCAA Tournament. 

What should you do?  A look at recent history shows that putting money down for the Ducks has paid out. Oregon has made a drastic change in the last three weeks and are riding an eight-game winning streak into the NCAA Tournament, including four victories to become Pac-12 Tournament champions. Oregon won six of those eight games by double-digits.

Most importantly (for your wallet) in each of those wins, Oregon has covered the spread.

3/16/19 Oregon vs. UW: The Ducks were 1.5-point favorites and beat the Huskies by 20 points.

3/15/19 Oregon vs. ASU: The Ducks were 2-point favorites and beat the Sun Devils by 4 points.

3/14/19 Oregon vs. Utah: The Ducks were 4.5-point favorites and beat the Utes by 12 points.

3/13/19 Oregon vs. WSU: The Ducks were 11.5-point favorites and beat the Cougars by 33 points.

3/9/19 Oregon at UW: The Ducks were 6-point under dogs and beat the Huskies by 8 points.

3/6/19 Oregon at WSU: The Ducks were 7-point favorites and beat the Cougars by 11 points.

3/2/19 Oregon vs. Arizona: The Ducks were 4.5-point favorites and beat the Wildcats by 26 points.

2/28/19 Oregon vs. ASU: The Ducks were 1.5-point favorites and beat the Sun Devils by 28 points.

 

Another note (for your wallet)… Every game has gone under, except the overtime win against Arizona State in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.

3/16/19 Oregon vs. UW over/under 119.5 total points: Result: 116 points, under

3/15/19 Oregon vs. ASU over/under 134 total points: Result: 154 points, over

3/14/19 Oregon vs. Utah over/under 137 total points: Result: 120 points, under

3/13/19 Oregon vs. WSU over/under 137 total points: Result: 135 points, under

3/9/19 Oregon at UW over/under 124.5 total points: Result: 102 points, under

3/6/19 Oregon at WSU over/under 142.5 total points: Result: 133 points, under

3/2/19 Oregon vs. Arizona over/under 130 total points: Result: 120 points, under

2/28/19 Oregon vs. ASU over/under 138 total points: Result: 130 points, under

(All odds via Bovada)

Oregon’s defensive prowess has become highly entertaining to watch. But can the Ducks slow down Wisconsin’s top offensive player and four-year starter, Ethan Happ? Don’t come pounding on my door if Oregon loses or it goes over, but I had to point out the trend. If you’ve been betting the Ducks and the under, you’ve been making some major money.