USC Trojans (7-3 SU, 5-5 ATS) vs. Oregon Ducks (7-3 SU, 6-4 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Saturday, November 21, 2015 at 3:30PM EST
Where: Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
by Scott, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: USC +4.5/ORE -4.5
Over/Under Total: 71.5
The USC Trojans make the trip up north to Autzen Stadium to face the Oregon Ducks on Saturday in a big Pac-12 conference battle. Both teams have taken their share of lumps and you could say this season has been a disappointment for both teams. By the same token, each team is peaking at the right time, with both having won 4 straight games. Each team is 7-3 and has high hopes once again. USC and Oregon would need some help, but theyre both in the running now for division honors. For two teams that were at one point sideways, thats not half-bad.
Each team won their last game. Oregon had their watershed moment on Saturday, beating 7th-ranked Stanford on the road, 38-36. It culminates a nice upsurge made by the Ducks, as they have re-emerged as a dangerous team again. USC continued their improved play on Friday with a 27-24 road win at Colorado. The win lifted their record in the Pac-12 to 5-2.
Oregon has been looking good, as their offense has managed to kick it into high gear. Making the Oregon team come around as a whole has been an indomitable fighting spirit, an enhanced sense of mental toughness. They might not win or cover the spread, but theyll fight for you. Leading the resurgence has been the improved QB play of Vernon Adams. He was deadly-efficient against Stanford and in the last 4 games, he has thrown 12 touchdowns and given this offense a ton of balance. They already have the 4th leading rushing offense in the nation. Adams has been connecting well with receivers Bralon Addison and Darren Carrington, but the ground game really lets this offense take off.
On Saturday against Stanford, Ducks premier back Royce Freeman was over 100 once again, as he has nearly 1400 yards and 12 touchdowns. Taj Griffin and Kani Benoit have added another dimension to the ground game, making it a real weapon against even the toughest defenses in the Pac-12. Benoit even caught a 49-yard TD. The Oregon offense has really started hitting the scoreboard, scoring 143 points in their last 3 games.
Defensively, the Ducks have their share of issues, namely a pass-defense that is ranked among the worst in all of college football. And it showed on Saturday, as they gave up a 300-yard performance to Kevin Hogan. Its been a real Achilles heel for this D, which also struggles against the run. This D has given up an average of 37.1 points per game, but with the offense becoming more adept at hanging in there in the shootout format, weve seen much better results over the last month.
Now USC has to make the tough trip up to Eugene. They handled themselves well against Colorado in a tricky road spot on Saturday. They have won 3 conference games on the road this season and look to make it 4 this weekend. The offense has also taken flight, with quarterback Cody Kessler completing nearly 70% of his throws with 23 touchdown throws. He is making nice connections with a good receiver in JuJu Smith Schuster, who has 1160 yards through the air. And on the ground, the running attack is led by a dynamic trio of backs, with Ronald Jones, Justin Davis, and Tre Madden (questionable).
While the USC offense lags behind Oregons in terms of overall explosiveness, their defense is certainly the more complete onenot infallible, but at times robust. Against the run, they are one of stiffest defenses in the conference. And the 22.7 points they average giving up per game is two touchdowns better than what Oregon has been able to produce this season. No conference team other than Stanford back in September scored over 30 against this bunch. Its not an ironclad unit by any means, but in the context of the Pac-12, its not an altogether bad defense. And if they can at least slightly curb the Oregon run-game, it could help pave a route to victory.
USC wasnt all that impressive at Boulder last Friday, narrowly winning by a field goal, playing as 17-point favorites. For these warm-weather teams, things can get a little chilly venturing north for these games later in the season. The Trojans actually trailed 17-6 at the half, before 3 touchdowns in less than 8 minutes helped seal the win. It was a story of two halves for USC. They better play more like they did in the second half or they could very well be in big trouble this week.
Both teams have commendably righted the ship this season and now stand at a crossroads. USC has been playing well and probably represent the more balanced football team coming down the home stretch. But Oregon is considerably more explosive and the win over Stanford adds an air of class to their high-scoring approach. I see USC playing hard and having success on both sides of the ball. But at home and with an offense that has hit high-gear, I see the more battle-tempered Ducks escaping with the hard-earned win.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Oregon Ducks minus 4.5 points.
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