Oregon-Southern Cal Preview
Oregon keeps scoring points at an impressive pace, but it didn't receive enough points this week to move up in the BCS standings.
Southern California coach Lane Kiffin still thinks the second-ranked Ducks are the best team in the country.
Undefeated in 11 games since last season's home loss to the Trojans, Oregon goes for a 13th consecutive road win Saturday night against an 18th-ranked USC team trying to get back on track after its national title hopes were derailed.
Led by 136 passing yards from Marcus Mariota and 211 combined rushing yards from Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas - who also had a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown - the Ducks (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) racked up 617 yards of total offense in last Saturday's 70-14 victory over Colorado.
Oregon, which has scored 40 or more points in 11 straight since a 38-35 loss to then-No. 18 USC on Nov. 19, is scoring a nation-best 53.4 per game. The Ducks are also seventh in FBS with 540.1 yards per contest.
"When you've got Kenjon, De'Anthony, Marcus, you really force people to defend everyone,'' coach Chip Kelly said.
The Ducks, though, remain fourth in the BCS standings this week - trailing Alabama, Kansas State and Notre Dame - after dropping from No. 3 two weeks ago.
Kiffin has watched enough of Oregon to call this year's version the best he's seen - and the best in the nation.
"The quarterback is the difference. Two things really - the quarterback's speed, faster than the other guys who've been there, and then the defense is playing so well," said Kiffin, whose team is 25th in the nation in scoring defense (19.5 ppg).
"If you look at the old Oregon teams, they were still winning games, but they were winning a lot of games in the second half. ... This is a different Oregon team. They've taken care of almost everyone in the field half."
The Ducks have outscored their last two opponents 99-7 in the opening two quarters and own a 290-56 scoring edge before halftime this season.
With that in mind, the Trojans (6-2, 4-2) know they can't afford to falter early.
They also have to limit penalties and turnovers if they're going to stay in control of the Pac-12 South. USC had 13 penalties for 117 yards and a season-worst five turnovers in a 39-36 loss at Arizona last Saturday that ended its four-game winning streak.
The Trojans are the most penalized team in the nation with 10.3 per game.
"I'm open for any suggestions (on how to fix this)," Kiffin said. "I've tried it all.''
Lee caught 16 passes from Matt Barkley for a conference-record 345 yards and two TDs last Saturday, while Woods had nine receptions for 93 yards. Lee, the Pac-12 offensive player of the week, finished with 469 all-purpose yards.
"I think everybody knows when you're going in to play USC, you gotta stop Woods and Lee, but I don't think anybody's really done a good job of it yet," Kelly said.
The Ducks might have better success, even though Barkley threw for a school-record 493 yards against the Wildcats. The senior's Heisman Trophy chances have taken a hit as he already has one more interception this season (eight) than in 2011.
Oregon has picked off six passes while limiting its last three opponents to 456 total passing yards.
The Ducks, though, had no answer for Barkley, Lee and Woods last season as their nine-game winning streak and 19-0 run in league play ended after Alejandro Maldonado missed a 37-yard field-goal with five seconds remaining.
Barkley, who is two completions shy of setting the Pac-12 record with 928 after going 31 for 49 versus Arizona, threw for 323 yards and four TDs in that victory in Eugene. Lee finished with 187 yards and a score while Woods caught two TDs.
Barner, who ran for 123 yards and reached the end zone twice in that game, has 14 of the Ducks' FBS-best 34 rushing TDs in 2012.
The Trojans yielded a season-high 222 yards on the ground last Saturday, dropping to 1-8 since 2010 when they allow more than 150 rushing yards.
This will be the ninth consecutive time these teams have met with both being ranked. Oregon, then No. 1, won 53-32 in its last visit to the Coliseum on Oct. 30, 2010.