Two squads that currently lead their respective divisions in the Pac-12 will do battle underneath the primetime lights out in Los Angeles on Saturday night. The North division-leading Oregon Ducks hit the road to take on a USC Trojans squad which is atop the South division.
Since a disappointing season-opening loss to Auburn, Oregon has responded by winning seven straight games. The team has shown great balance while doing so, as there’s strength to be found on both sides of the ball. In the latest AP Top 25 poll, the team checked in at 7th.
USC has had an up and down season thus far. The program has already lost three games, but it holds a key win over Utah in its back pocket. That gives them a leg up on the Utes in the division standings, as both clubs check in at 4-1 in conference play.
The Ducks are the stronger team on paper and favored as a result, but the Trojans are far from pushovers. That should translate into a close and competitive affair in which an outright upset can’t be completely ruled out. Let’s take a closer look at this fascinating matchup.
Oregon vs. USC, 8 PM EST, Sat. Nov.2, FOX
Betting odds provided by Sportsbetting.ag
Oregon vs. USC Pick:
The Ducks were home last weekend to play host to Washington State. They were big 14-point favorites at kickoff, but the visiting Cougars had different ideas. At the half, it was all tied up at 17-17. It was a back-and-forth affair from that point. The Ducks got up by 11, but Washington State came back to take the lead. A 36-yard field goal was the difference maker as Oregon walked off with a 37-35 win.
The Trojans last took the field last Friday night for a road tilt with Colorado. They entered the building favored by 10.5-points, but the Buffaloes weren’t looking to be pushed around on the homefield. They were up 31-21 at the end of three quarters, but the Trojans kicked it into overdrive from that point. Kedon Slovis hooked up with Michael Pittman for two scores to lead USC to a 35-31 victory.
Oregon opened up 2019 with a neutral-site affair versus Auburn. They had control of the game and looked destined to win, but the Tigers stormed back to pull out a 27-21 victory. The Ducks responded by winning their next five games by double digits. They have extended the streak to seven in a row, but the last two weeks haven’t been easy as they won both games by a combined six points.
USC opened up the season with a pair of home wins, including a 25-point victory over a ranked Stanford team. The club traveled to BYU in Week 3 and lost to the Cougars in overtime. A brutal stretch of three versus ranked teams followed. USC handled business at home versus Utah, but fell on the road to Washington and Notre Dame. The Trojans have righted the ship and won their last two games.
The Ducks are scoring an average of 36.0 points per contest, which ranks 25th nationally. It’s a balanced unit that can get the job done in both facets. The defense has been a big bright spot for Oregon. The unit ranks 9th in the nation with a paltry 14.8 points allowed per game. Overall, this is a complete team that flies slightly under the radar in comparison to other top programs.
Justin Herbert is a hot prospect in NFL scouting circles. He’s having a season that justifies the hype. Herbert has completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 21 TDs versus just one INT. CJ Verdell has been a big threat out of the backfield with a line of 112/753/5. Jacob Breeland is the top target at 26/405/6. Troy Dye tops the team with 38 tackles, while Mase Funa leads with four sacks.
An average of 31.3 points per game for the Trojans leaves them at 51st in the country on that metric. The passing attack has been more of a strength for the unit. They’re averaging 38.0 points per game over the last two. The defense has been decent in 2019, but it’s not quite on the level of what Oregon brings to the table on that front. However, the pass rush is comparable on both sides.
Kedon Slovis missed some time earlier this season to injury. He has thrown for 13 scores versus five picks thus far. The Trojans are dealing with a number of injuries in the backfield, so the actual rotation is looking like a work in progress. Michael Pittman Jr. leads the team in receiving at 50/755/7. John Houston Jr. tops the team with 70 tackles, while Drake Jackson leads with 3.5 sacks.
USC leads the all-time series over Oregon by a margin of 38-20-2. The last meeting took place back in 2016, a 45-20 home win for the Trojans.
For the season to date, Oregon is 4-4 against the spread and 3-5 on totals. USC is 4-4 ATS and 3-5 on the Over/Under.
Since the 2016 season, the Ducks are 5-5 both overall and ATS as road favorites. The Trojans are 1-1 straight-up as home underdogs over that span and 2-0 ATS.
At first glance, the disparity in records suggests the Ducks will have a relatively easy time with the Trojans. Closer inspection of the matchup suggests otherwise. While Oregon is the stronger overall team, USC can hang with the big dogs as evidenced by a home upset of Utah earlier this season.
The Ducks have faced some challenges over the past two weeks from conference foes, and they’re about to face another one. They may be able to escape with another close win, but the Trojans are going to make them work for it under the bright lights in LA.