**Editor’s Note: Each week during football season we will feature an essay from the opponent’s student newspaper on how Oregon will lose. This week’s edition is from Nicholas Burton (@NickMBurton), from USC’s Daily Trojan.**
Ah, the Oregon Ducks.
This is quite the rivalry the Ducks and the Trojans have developed — a bitter one at that.
See, these teams have started this pesky habit of derailing each other’s seasons. Last year of course the Trojans snuffed out any chance the Ducks had at a national title berth by becoming the first visiting team to win at Autzen Stadium since Boise State back in the Middle Ages or something. In 2009, the Trojans went to Eugene also with an outside shot of entering the national title picture and got smacked around on Halloween.
But man, Oregon is a great team — best in the country if you believe USC coach Lane Kiffin, who clearly hasn’t watched a single second of Alabama this year. I still readily concede that this is the best team Oregon has fielded recently, which is a much more reasonable claim. Scoring 50 every game, winning by 35, cruising to a national title — except not, because Alabama is a mortal lock for the national title game and Notre Dame (also known as the American Football University) is assured of a berth if it runs the table. An undefeated Kansas State might also squeak into the national title game, too, which is truly repulsive, but such is life on the West Coast.
So where were we? Oh yeah, Oregon, cruising to another Rose Bowl. Unstoppable. Best offense in the country and all that jazz.
But Oregon is playing USC, and the Trojans win the games that matter. Oregon doesn’t. Check out bowl game records (USC: 32-15, Oregon: 10-15) and records against ranked opponents (USC: 155-120, Oregon: 60-133). If you want more recent history, USC has lost three games in the month of November in the last 12 years. Oregon has lost three in the last four years. And if that’s not recent enough for you, there’s always last year.
There’s also the fact that Oregon has played exactly one good football team this year — Arizona — and only a few above-average teams. Granted, Oregon beat the living daylights out of the Wildcats, who of course just beat USC last week.
But let me stop you before you mention that game, because we all know resorting to the transitive property is the single biggest indication of a poorly educated fan. But that Arizona-Oregon game wasn’t as big of a blowout as the score indicates. I wouldn’t say any team dominates a game in which it surrenders 332 yards. And that game was in Eugene. The Ducks have only played one true road contest this year and gave up more than 400 yards in that game, so I think it’s fair to say they are untested.
Saturday’s game will be close; I think everyone can agree on that. And that brings us to the most important point.
Oregon does not win close games; USC does. This is a reality as indisputable as the fact that George Farmer is faster than De’Anthony Thomas (Seriously, YouTube “George Farmer smokes DAT.” Do it).
Oregon doesn’t play a lot of close games, but when it does, it loses. Take a quick gander at the recent record: LSU and USC last year, Auburn in the BCS national title game the year before, Boise State, Stanford and Ohio State in the Rose Bowl in 2009. In the Chip Kelly era, Oregon is just 5-5 in road or neutral site games decided by fewer than two touchdowns. Over that same time frame (since 2009), USC is 17-8 in any such game (and 11-4 away from the Coliseum if you care).
So, that pesky trend of these two teams derailing each other’s seasons? Don’t expect it to go away on Saturday. If you didn’t have this date circled already, go ahead and circle Dec. 1. Trojans and Ducks in Eugene. See you there.