Just about everything is going to have to go right on Saturday night if the USC Trojans hope to end Oregon's hopes of a national championship for the second year in a row. The Ducks are loaded at every position on offense, and, statistically, this is their best defensive unit since Chip Kelly took over as head coach.
Bill Connelly of SB Nation put together a great preview for this weekend's Pac-12 showdown. According to him, slowing Oregon down on first down is the key to hindering their offensive attack.
Oregon's offense is at its best on first down, when it can literally do anything it wants, knowing you cannot account for every running and passing weapon if can boast. But when you are lucky enough to force the Ducks into second- or third-and-long, you put the ballgame more in the hands of the young man behind center. And if USC is able to semi-regularly stop the Ducks on first down (an enormous "if," by the way), the advantage could shift dramatically in their favor.
Be sure to check out the rest of SB Nation's preview here.
The Ducks rank No. 1 in the nation with an average of 53.4 points a game. Their rushing game is third, and while they don't rely on it as much, UO still throws the football for more than 200 yards each week.
As Connelly explained above, it's tough to imagine USC winning unless they force their opponents into second- and third-and-long situations for most of the night. Oregon's offense has just too many talented playmakers to let them do what they want with the ball in their hands.
Kickoff from Los Angeles is set for 4 p.m. PT on Saturday afternoon.