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USC vs. Oregon preview: Speed vs. speed

The Trojans find themselves playing a similar role against Oregon as last year: that of spoiler. But will USC have enough team speed to keep up with the Ducks?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

With two losses, the USC Trojans (6-2, 4-2) find themselves with the same number of losses when it battled against the Oregon Ducks (8-0, 5-0) last year.

That game, USC came away with a big time victory against the Ducks on the road, shutting Oregon's late game rally with a missed field goal to seal the game.

This time, the Ducks are in Los Angeles. USC will try to manage a victory at home against a high powered offense in the Ducks. The Trojans will attempt to vanish Oregon's hopes again for a national title, just like they did last season with their win in Eugene, Ore.

This game has lost a bit of its luster thanks to a USC meltdown loss against Arizona last week in Tuscon, Ariz. But nevertheless, it's always a joy to watch two of the top Pac-12 teams do battle on the field. Since 2000, the Pac-10/12 has seen Oregon or USC on top of the conference in every year.

In the game last season, Matt Barkley tore up Oregon's secondary; throwing to his best receivers in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. It was Lee, however, who made the bigger plays, catching about every deep pass that was thrown to him. Mistakes from both teams were made in pivotal points of the game, but USC came out with a hard fought win, winning 38-35 marking Lane Kiffin's best win of his coaching career.

Oregon head coach Chip Kelly is undefeated in Los Angeles and will welcome the nice weather. Although he will undoubtedly share the ball around his team, there's a player to be watched on Saturday as this game will be his homecoming: De'Anthony Thomas.

Sharing the same nickname as Kobe Bryant's during Thomas' high school years, the "Black Mamba" was seen as the next best thing to come out of the inner-city football community.

He committed to the USC Trojans in mid-2010 before ditching USC and committing to the Ducks on Signing Day in 2011.

With a late January trip just days before Signing Day, Thomas took an official visit to Oregon and loved the atmosphere. Kelly swayed Thomas from Kiffin, and it may have been for the best.

Thomas has maintained his hunt for the Heisman Trophy and believed Kelly's spread-option, run-happy offense would set the road there. And it has.

Thomas is the most electrifying athlete in college football since Cam Newton. He has a sprinter's speed and carves up the defense when in space with his elusive moves.

He'll try to do that as a running back and wide receiver against USC this Saturday, who hope to stop Thomas and the high flying ducks with their strength in the defense: speed.

USC got a preview of a high-snap count offense against Rich Rodriguez's Wildcats last weekend, but USC will play for a better result than an loss in the W/L column. It will be a tough task, but USC has done it before.

USC didn't manage to live up to the hype this season, but a win against Oregon will certainly paint the elite image back to the Trojans.

With Oregon, they are in the thick of the race for the national championship once again. Both teams will face its toughest foe, who will win in the Coliseum?

Prediction: USC 34, Oregon 48