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The Oregon offense was too much for USC.
If USC supposedly was the toughest test remaining on Oregon’s schedule, the road to the Ducks’ second straight Pac-10 title could become downright silly. Oregon broke open a close game early in the third quarter and cruised to a 53–32 victory at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Saturday. Although the game was competitive for over two quarters, there was a sense by the time the game ended that the Trojans were outclassed.
Granted, USC doesn’t have the same brand of depth it’s had in years past because of player defections following last summer’s NCAA sanctions, but even a full complement of players may not have prevented the Ducks from wearing down the Trojans in the second half. Oregon proved it could score quickly or with sustained drives, and the Ducks had a couple of methodical drives in the second half to pull away. USC’s defense had no answer for Oregon’s machine-like offense, which ended up with 599 total yards.
The Trojans have the best offense the Ducks will face this season, other than maybe Stanford. And although USC was able to put up some yards and points against Oregon, the Ducks’ underrated defense came up with enough stops to allow their offense to pull away.
While Auburn quarterback Cam Newton was padding his Heisman Trophy stat sheet by throwing in a receiving touchdown against Ole Miss, Oregon running back LaMichael James kept pace with a dominant 239-yard, three-touchdown performance. Oregon moved up to No. 1 in this week’s Bowl Championship Series standings. The Ducks have four more games — two at home and two on the road. That includes a showdown in their second-to-last game of the season against Arizona, which is tied for second in the Pac-10 standings, one game behind Oregon.
The Ducks close out the season with their annual Civil War battle with Oregon State.
Oregon’s next two games are at home against Washington and then at Cal, teams that look to be headed for the lower half of the conference standings. The Huskies allowed 42 points to Stanford on Saturday. The Autzen Stadium scoreboard operator could have his hands full when the Huskies visit this weekend.
Arizona 29, UCLA 21
Oregon State 35, California 7
Arizona State 42, Washington State 0
Stanford 41, Washington 0
Oregon 53, USC 32
Cal coach Jeff Tedford was already searching for an answer to his team’s troubling split personality. Now, he’s got a bigger problem on his hands.
The Bears continue to play two seasons in one. When they are home, they dispatch opponents easily. When they are on the road, the same thing happens to them. The trend kept up Saturday when Cal was thoroughly taken apart by Oregon State in a 35–7 loss. But the defeat was overshadowed by what appears to be a season-ending knee injury to starting quarterback Kevin Riley, who went down during Cal’s second possession of the game.
The Bears have been to bowl games seven years in a row, but that streak could be in trouble. Cal has to win two of its final four games to become bowl-eligible, and the Bears still have to play Oregon and Stanford. Cal should be decided underdogs in both of those games, meaning it would be a good idea to beat Washington State and Washington.
Most teams don’t have a problem with Washington State, but the Bears must visit the Cougars this weekend with a quarterback making his first career start. Junior Brock Mansion replaced Riley against Oregon St. in the first meaningful action of his career. He had only seen limited time during blowouts previously.
The Cougars are improving and Cal’s playbook may be shrunk with the inexperienced Mansion running the show. That means the Bears may need their defense to carry the day in Pullman. Cal’s defense, like the rest of the team, has been much more effective at home than on the road this season.
Luck Wins Draft Showdown
The showdown of potential top-10 draft picks never really materialized Saturday in Seattle. A huge contingent of NFL scouts was on hand at Husky Stadium as Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck went head-to-head against Washington quarterback Jake Locker. Both are considered high NFL draft picks, with Luck possibly going No. 1 overall.
But this one was all about Luck. He threw for only 192 yards and a touchdown, but he was extremely efficient and added a 51-yard touchdown run. Locker, meanwhile, had one of the worst games of his career, although part of his woes were due to poor pass protection. Locker, who hasn’t turned in the huge season many expected, completed just 7-of-14 passes for 64 yards.
Some believed Locker could have been the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft, but he decided to return to Washington for his senior season. Now, Locker’s stock appears to be falling.