A victory over the Trojans would place the Ducks in a strong position to finish with only one loss on the season, as just the lowly Oregon State Beavers, and a potentially weak challenger from the South Division, stand in their way from a possible BCS title game.
The 2011 Pac-12 Football Championship game will be played on Friday, Dec. 2, and would likely feature Oregon should Chip Kelly's squad win their next two games. Their opponent would be either UCLA, Arizona State, or Utah, as USC are ineligible due to NCAA sanctions. Oregon would host the game should they win the North Division.
Oregon will only need to be ranked No. 2 in the BCS standings to play in the BCS title game, and the three schools ahead of them: LSU, Oklahoma State, and Alabama, each have difficult games ahead of them.
LSU, which beat Oregon in the season opener, will host sixth-ranked Arkansas on Nov. 25, and would still have to compete in the SEC Championship game. Second-ranked Oklahoma State face fifth-ranked Oklahoma on Dec. 3. Third-ranked Alabama travel to face 24th-ranked Auburn in a rivalry match, and may play in the SEC championship game.
In other words, Oregon could find themselves back in the National Championship game if the schools ahead of them suffer losses, but the Ducks still need to win their next three games.
USC are the main roadblock standing in their way.
The Ducks have won their last two games against the Trojans in convincing fashion. In 2009, Oregon defeated USC 47-20, and then followed that game with a 53-32 thrashing at the Coliseum in 2010.
Junior LaMichael James has already rushed for over 1,500 yards this season, and has rushing performances of 183 yards and 239 yards against USC. The star running back has four touchdowns in his two games against the Trojans.
Another player that USC will keep a close eye on is De'Anthony Thomas. The all-purpose Freshman had previously committed to USC before changing his mind for Oregon near the last minute. Thomas, who attended Crenshaw High School, which is located just minutes from the USC campus, has 12 touchdowns on the year, and has rushed for 366 yards and caught 27 passes for 423 yards.
USC are led by quarterback Matt Barkley who has thrown for 2,782 yards and 29 touchdowns on the season. Barkley is coming off four-straight games in which he has completed 62 percent, or better, of his passes.
However, Barkley may not have his favorite target on Saturday. Robert Woods, USC's star wide receiver, has missed practice recently due to ankle and shoulder injuries. Though Woods has recently stated that he feels good enough to play, he will likely be slowed by his injuries.
USC head coach Lane Kiffin recently gave credit to an Oregon defense that many consider to be under-rated.
Their defense is really good, Kiffin said, according to the Los Angeles Times. Probably the best it's ever been there.
Kiffin could use all the help he can get against the speedy Ducks, but has other players, aside from Woods, who may not be at 100 percent. Matt Kalil, considered a future top pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, was reportedly limited in practice. The Trojans may have problems on defense with tackles DaJohn Harris (ankle) and Christian Tupou (knee) sitting out a Tuesday session.
The weather forecast may call for rain, and that's good for Oregon.
ODDS: Oregon are favored by 14.5 points.
PREDICTION: USC will be amped for this game as they have revenge on their minds. However, the Oregon running game is simply too fast for USC, and should score in bunches. There is no reason to believe James won't have a big game, which should open up the passing game for Darron Thomas. The Oregon secondary will focus on freshman wide out Marqise Lee, who has shined recently. USC will need to dominate special teams or force turnovers if they expect to keep this game competitive.
PREDICTED SCORE: OREGON 44, USC 20.