Pac-12 Championship Pick: Oregon Ducks vs. USC Trojans

by | Dec 15, 2020 | cfb

Oregon Ducks (3-2 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. USC Trojans (5-0 SU, 3-2 ATS)

College Football Week 16

Date and Time: Friday, December 18, 2020 at 8PM EST

Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California

TV: Fox

Point Spread: ORE +3/USC -3 (Bookmaker - The biggest, best funded, safest and one of the oldest bookies on the web. ROCK SOLID!)

Over/Under Total: 57

The Oregon Ducks take on the USC Trojans in the Pac-12 Championship on Friday night. In this truncated season, this will decide who the kings of the Pac-12 are. And sure, it doesn’t ring as large as it may have, with a 3-2 Ducks team playing for conference honors against the 5-0 Trojans. But it’s actually a game that should be very competitive where a number of different outlooks can be substantiated. USC is coming off a big win against rival UCLA, 43-38. The Ducks had their last game scratched, but before that, they lost to Cal, 20-17. Let’s break this down!

Why the Ducks Can Trouble The Trojans

USC is 5-0. There is a lot they do well that should be commended, and that could be a thorn in the side of the Huskies on Friday. One is Kedon Slovis, their clutch, and aerially-inclined quarterback. He has a vast toolbox and makes good use of his weapons. But beyond his stats is how well he delivers in a pinch. When the chips are down, and you need a positive development, more often than not, this kid dials up the right recipe. With five TDs on Saturday, he was huge, and if not for him, Trojans’ backers likely would have had no shot at a cover.

But part of the reason Slovis and the Trojans are always in a position where they need something good to happen late is because they are, in fact, quite vulnerable. On Saturday, a 20-point fourth quarter was needed to get the win and cover. And their first two wins of the season were also nail-biters where a lot of late-game dramatics were needed. And we’re talking Arizona State, Arizona, and UCLA as the three teams that pushed the Trojans to their absolute brink. That means Washington should be able to hang in there.

With a skilled cast of receivers with experience and some backs who can do damage, the USC offense sometimes leaves something to be desired. So far this season, it has all worked out in the end, but it sometimes seems like they should be getting more out of what they have. While they go on spurts, they sometimes lack consistency. And when watching them, you sometimes wonder if the right plays are being dialed up. They don’t always stick to what’s working.

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What Oregon Can Do About It?

This is far from an ideal situation. First of all, the Ducks are 0-2 in their last two after a 3-0 start. Division leader Washington was bounced from this game amid virus concerns, therefore Oregon is pretty dicey in terms of being a game away from being Pac-12 champions after getting their butts kicked by the inglorious duo of Oregon State and Cal. Other than their season-opening win over Stanford, it’s been a slog for a Ducks team that is dealing with a lot of player turnover, ley people sitting out, and injuries that have rendered them a bit deflated. I’m not sure the recent rumors involving a high-profile move for head coach Mario Cristobal really helps. Nor does the fact that their last game was scratched and they lack rhythm and continuity, with their most recent memories being getting beaten straight-up as big favorites in their last two games.

It’s hard to figure out what the problem is. Sure, QB Tyler Shough is dealing with growing pains with his first extended play behind center at the Pac-12 level. But he has also put together a handful of big passing days this season already and is a big strapping young man who certainly looks the part. He has what should be a diverse and powerful run-game upon which to lean with CJ Verdell, Travis Dye, Shough, and others. It just doesn’t always come off the way they’d like. There’s a separation between potential and execution on this offense, with miscues, untimely penalties and collapses, and youth rearing its ugly head.

In many ways, Oregon might represent a more-dangerous offensive test for the Trojans than the Huskies would have been. Despite some lethargy lately, the Oregon offense has a lot of weaponry on the ground and through the air to make life hard on a Trojans’ defense that can suffer lapses throughout the course of a game. However, on the defensive side of the ball, Oregon might not match up as well as Washington did with their stingy pass-defense. With Kedon Slovis putting up Tecmo Bowl stats, the mind goes to recent Oregon defensive efforts, giving up 41 to the Beavers and 35 to UCLA the previous week.

Right Spot for the Trojans?

The Trojans have been far from infallible, and even when they win or cover, it’s been a major sweat for the most part. But they’re battle-tested and, most of all—clutch. They’re not dealing with major personnel upheaval and uncertainty, and at least their last few games have come off without a problem. Also, they catch an Oregon team that didn’t even know they were playing in the conference title game until Monday. Considering that and how they’ve looked recently, how likely is it that a peak Ducks squad surfaces in Exposition Park on Friday?

Lay the Number on the Home Favorite

I think Oregon can be competitive in this spot. It’s really a nice opportunity to give their season some credibility, even if it was a train-wreck in many respects. Their offense alone should keep them in this game. But the USC offense is what the Ducks want to have eventually, and they’ The Trojans can be a team that plays down to the level of its opponent, making enough miscues tore just not there as of yet. The Trojans make a lot of mistakes that seem to frequently undermine what should be runaway wins on occasions. I just see this being a spot where they get out of their own way a little and cruise to the win and cover at home.

Loot’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the USC Trojans minus 3 points. Bet YOUR Oregon/USC pick and ALL your bets every day at -105 reduced odds at BAS Sportsbook!