#4 Oregon vs. #17 USC
Saturday, 7pm EDT, FOX
Just what does Oregon have to do to get up the BCS rankings? Week after week, the Ducks have slaughtered the competition, but while the pollsters can clearly see Oregon’s dominance, the computers have penalized them for their relatively weak schedule. All of Oregon’s strengths seem to be offset by their weaknesses, which means they run the table and the computers will still underrate them.
Take, for instance, their running game. Although senior Kenjon Barber and sophmore De’Anthony “The Black Mamba” Thomas have made the Oregon running game the third-best in the country, Marcus Mariota’s passing offense ranks 84th, averaging 209.5 yards a game. Blowout wins of 57-34, 63-14 and 70-14 do not impress the computers, either, considering that they came against Arkansas State, Tennessee Tech, and an abysmal conference opponent in Colorado.
Fortunately for the Ducks, they have the chance to prove themselves with a road game against Southern California. In the beginning of the season, this matchup would have had the hype that has preceded tonight’s LSU/Alabama game. However, losses to Stanford and Arizona have all but derailed the Trojans’ hopes at a BCS run. Beating Oregon will not give USC the Pac-12 title, but a quality win against the Ducks, and on November 24 against Notre Dame might allow them to get a BCS at-large berth, depending on the outcome of the Pac-12 Championship. Coach Lane Kiffin and quarterback Matt Barkley still have a lot to play for, but considering the national title hopes of the beginning of the season, 2012 still has to be considered a disappointment.
Both Oregon and USC are scoreboard watching tonight, especially the Pittsburgh/Notre Dame game. If the Panthers hold on and defeat the Fighting Irish, the Ducks’ road to South Florida will get that much easier. Meanwhile, Kansas State faces a nationally-ranked Oklahoma State tonight in late action. All of these teams, however, will keep an eye on LSU/Alabama, which already has the air of a national semifinal. None of this matters to USC or Oregon, though, if their sides loses tonight.