By Fred Delkin
Finally! The date arrives for the rematch of the Pac12′s finest on national television screens before the favored throng that occupies Los Angeles Coliseum seats. For the Trojans, it offers a return to prominence…for the Ducks, revenge for a 2011 loss that squashed national title hopes. Southern Cal hosts Oregon in a Saturday afternoon titanic that even the BCS computers cannot ignore. Now we’ll find out just how good the Ducks really are, though this observer was convinced earlier this season when Oregon humiliated a good Arizona State squad billed as the Webfoots’ first real test of the season. And that was after the Quackers had run roughshod over an Arizona team that upset Southern Cal last week.
USC QB Matt Barkley ignored a certain 2011 NFL first round draft spot to return as the leader of a 2012 national title try. He has a very talented offensive crew led by a pair of receiving phenoms in Reese & Woods, a 1,000+ yards rusher, Redd, and a big and mobile bunch of blockers. The Duck defense succumbed to this same crew a year ago in Autzen. The UO defense is improved, but we think this match will be defined by the Trojan defensive inability to staunch the Duck onslaught for four quarters.
OREGON at SOUTHERN CAL–Arizona (5-3 to date) has a hurry-up spread offense similar, but not equal, to Oregon’s attack…and the Wildcats wore the Trojans out. This bodes well for Marcus Mariota, Kenjon Barner, DeAnthony Thomas & Co. Stanford proved that Barkley can be rattled by an aggressive defensive rush. The Ducks will certainly turn one loose in the Coliseum. This will be college football at its finest, with Oregon remaining undefeated. OREGON by 21.
ARIZONA STATE at OREGON STATE–Beaver coach Mike Riley sunk his team’s chances of staying unbeaten when he started QB Sean Mannion too soon following a surgical repair. Now he’s going with backup signal-caller Cody Vaz for this game and we expect a Beaver edge in defensive play will combine with enough offense to make the home crowd happy, but ASU is no pushover. OREGON STATE by 7.
WASHINGTON at CALIFORNIA–the Huskies showed enough in dumping OSU that we think they can repeat their solid defensive play against Cal’s inconsistent offense. However, if the Golden Bears play up to their seldom-realized potential, Cal coach Jeff Tedford may be allowed to finish the season. WASHINGTON by 3.
WASHINGTON STATE at UTAH–the Utes tore Cal apart last week and can be expected to treat their home crowd to another triumph. The Cougars are better than Colorado, but not by much and new WSU coach Mike Leach continues to look to the future. UTAH by 10.
STANFORD at COLORADO–the Cardinal will have no trouble running over the Buffs, with the mile-high altitude the only factor limiting the winning margin, which will certify that Stanford is the Pac12′s second-best team. STANFORD by 28.
ROSES & RASPBERRIES–let’s toss a few blooms to the human beings voting in the AP & Coaches national grid polls, who continue to rank Oregon higher than the computer-driven BCS rating…no respect is earned by Mike Riley’s quarterback shuffles, which began with his replacing veteran starter Ryan Katz with Mannion, while Katz has since earned plaudits for transferring to San Diego State and aiding in the creation of a winner…our hearty congratulations to Mannion’s coaching father, who came north with his son from southern California and has turned lowly Silverton high into a state title contender in his initial season there.