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