USC: Oregon

USC picked first in Pac-12 media poll

July, 24, 2012
7/24/12
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UNIVERSAL CITY -- USC was picked to win the Pac-12 championship by more than 80 percent of the voting media in the 2012 Pac-12 media poll, it was announced Tuesday at the conference's annual media day.

117 of 123 voters (95 percent) picked the Trojans to win the Pac-12 South and 102 of those picked them to win the championship. The other teams to receive votes were Oregon and Arizona State.The preseason media poll has correctly picked the conference champion 28 of 51 times in total and 11 of the last 12 years.

USC is being picked to win the league for the 31st time. The Trojans have proven that prognostication correct 18 times.

Here are this year's full results, with much more information from the media day festivities coming later:

NORTH DIVISION
1. Oregon (117) 732
2. Stanford (5) 533
3. Washington 502
4. California (1) 382
5. Washington State 228
6. Oregon State 205

SOUTH DIVISION
1. USC (117) 729
2. Utah (1) 514
3. UCLA (2) 435
4. Arizona 385
5. Arizona State (3) 353
6. Colorado 164

PAC-12 TITLE GAME CHAMPION: USC (102 votes)
Others receiving votes: Oregon (18), Arizona State (3)

Going out prematurely, but on top

November, 26, 2011
11/26/11
11:38
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LOS ANGELES -- The Pac-12 should have rolled out a big podium and presented UCLA with its South division trophy on the floor of the Coliseum after USC’s 50-0 win Saturday night. Commissioner Larry Scott could have handed Rick Neuheisel a microphone for his acceptance speech.

Wouldn’t that have been fun? The perfect snapshot of the farce this conference foisted on us all this year.

Then again, UCLA still gets to “represent” the South next week in Eugene, Ore., another chance to make the conference look ridiculous.

USC players and coaches might watch that game Friday night, have a chuckle or two along with the rest of the country. They won’t be playing in it, of course, even though it could have been an electric rematch. The Pac-12 lined up behind the NCAA and stripped the Trojans of any opportunity to play postseason football two Junes ago.

So, Saturday was the final statement the Trojans get to make this year when it looks like they have so much more left to say. At least their final phrase was definitive.

“Neuheisel said it best. They closed the gap,” USC defensive tackle DaJohn Harris said. “I don’t see it, but that’s what they said.”

USC isn’t just the best team in this division right now. It looks like it will sit on top of the thing for a decade or two.

But who cares about that? By the end of the season it was probably the best team west of the Rockies. Let this thing play out a little longer and the Trojans might have given any team in the country a battle. It’s rare you see a team improve in such a straight line, week by week, from mediocre in early fall to a machine by Thanksgiving.

Heading into next season, if a few juniors (or one in particular) come back, USC (10-2, 7-2 in Pac-12) will be a national title contender. Even if all four of them bolt, they should be Top 15 with a shot at something magical.

Wouldn’t you have loved to see USC wrap up this sensational 2011 season with a bowl game against Arkansas or Georgia or one of those other SEC teams that everyone is always telling us is so tough? Instead, we had to hold our hands over our eyes and peek at Saturday’s sad spectacle of a once-vibrant rivalry.

I don’t feel sorry for USC’s players any longer. You got the sense all year they were having a blast showing everybody USC is still USC, that no matter what the NCAA does, it can’t make them play slower or dumber or with less pride. And, what’s more, they liked each other, which helped them enjoy it that much more.

“This is the closest team I’ve ever been on,” said left tackle Matt Kalil.

The Senior Night ceremony Saturday was nice, but short. It was mostly walk-ons and special-teams players who got to come out of the tunnel and hug coach Lane Kiffin. The core of this team isn’t going anywhere. In fact, many of this team’s best players will be juniors and sophomores next year, their learning curves just beginning to climb.

By early in the third quarter, USC fans were chanting “One more year!” and Matt Barkley had to hear it. He was backed up near his own end zone, just a few dozen yards for the student section. In the fourth quarter, after the defense stuffed UCLA on fourth down to preserve the shutout, Barkley sprinted 40 yards onto the field, leapt and chest-bumped safety T.J. McDonald.

Barkley came to USC because he wanted to play in the NFL and after Saturday’s performance -- 35-for-42 for 432 yards and six touchdowns -- he looks like he could have left the Coliseum and driven to a hotel near the closest NFL stadium and started Sunday. He doesn’t have much left to prove at this level. Even Kiffin expects him to go.

But, if he does leave, he will feel it somewhere deep, the opportunity he’s leaving behind. The love from the fans in these past few games reminded him. The crackling chemistry he’s found with Marqise Lee and Robert Woods will tease him if he goes. It looks like they’re playing a video game out there.

It takes a certain kind of person to perform at the highest level without the hint of a reward at the end. This team had every excuse imaginable at hand -- transfers, the lack of a bowl game, negative publicity -- and didn’t seem to care.

So, yeah, one team of champions did walk off the field Saturday night.
Shelley Smith talks to USC players about the speedy Oregon Ducks and the challenges of playing in Autzen Stadium this weekend.

Trojans study SEC approach

November, 16, 2011
11/16/11
12:50
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USC used to be the one school west of the Rockies that could consistently field teams with SEC-caliber talent. Saturday might tell us how far back they've come.

The past two teams to beat Oregon, Auburn and LSU, did so largely by winning the one-on-one battles up front and by stuffing the Ducks' option plays before they got going. Against Auburn in the national-championship game last year, the Ducks ran for just 75 yards. Against LSU in the season opener, they managed just 95 on the ground.

In its nine games since, Oregon has averaged 313 yards rushing and blown out every opponent it has faced.

How much of a lesson is all that heading into Saturday's showdown at Autzen Stadium? USC coach Lane Kiffin thinks you can only take it so far, saying LSU's defense might be the best in college football history.

"You're talking about not just a good defense this year, a great defense of all time," Kiffin said. "Nothing against our defense, but you can't compare anybody to that."

USC's front seven is young and rapidly improving. The Trojans rank eighth nationally against the run, having allowed an average of 100 yards rushing per game. The emphases in practice this week have been conditioning, tackling and penetration.

"We’ve just got to compete and get there, stop the run and everything will work out," said USC defensive end Nick Perry.

And yeah, they watched the film of those two Oregon games against the SEC.

"They had the right game plan: Get some big guys up front, win your one-on-ones and, when they got out in space on you, the first guy made the tackle," defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron said. "I think that’s really critical."

Brilliant two-man game, but is that really enough?

September, 3, 2011
9/03/11
7:10
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Matt BarkleyStephen Dunn/Getty ImagesMatt Barkley set a school record with 34 completions against Minnesota on Saturday.

LOS ANGELES -- The head coach called it a “debacle.” The quarterback said it didn’t leave a “satisfying feeling.”

Just think if USC hadn’t torn up a couple of marquee school records in Saturday’s 19-17 win over Minnesota at the Coliseum.

If this were a normal season at USC, Robert Woods and Matt Barkley would have elbowed into the early Heisman Trophy chatter with a couple of explosive performances in Week 1. But things still aren’t normal around here. The NCAA is still standing on USC’s neck and Heisman voters are likely determined to ignore anything coming out of L.A. in 2011. Plus, nothing about Saturday’s juxtaposition of encouraging strides and second-half fizzle suggested normalcy.

USC was determined to get Woods the ball, whether he was covered or not, whether he was two yards behind the line of scrimmage or 30 yards down field, whether the defensive back was committing misdemeanor battery or had fallen down. That plan seemed like a good idea. Woods is as complete as any player in college football -- smart, prepared, athletic and tough.

Coach Lane Kiffin knew he was going to make Woods the centerpiece. Why, otherwise, would he inform him the night before in a meeting of the school’s single-game receptions record and suggest it might be time to start a new one?

Barkley looked good to the task of making a legend, getting Woods the ball on target, releasing it quickly to avoid sacks and generally looking as comfortable in the pocket as he would on his living-room couch.

The perfect storm of Minnesota’s soft zone defense and locked-in performances from the quarterback and wide receiver re-wrote USC’s single-game records, and we’re not talking about fine-print numbers at a little out-of-the-way school.

The 17 catches broke Johnnie Morton’s 1993 USC record by two. The 34 completions for Barkley outdid Todd Marinovich’s mark from a 1989 game.

And, man, the Trojans looked awful in the second half, didn’t it? Against a team that finished 76th in total defense in 2010, they didn’t score a single point after halftime, stalling and sputtering, false-starting and dropping the ball.

(Read full post)

Schedule of game for this week's Pac-10 Tournament at Staples Center:
Game 1 -- Wednesday: No. 8 Stanford vs. No. 9 Oregon State , 6 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 2 -- Wednesday: No. 7 Oregon vs. No. 10 Arizona State, 8:30 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 3 -- Thursday: No. 4 USC vs. No. 5 California, Noon TV: FSN
Game 4 -- Thursday: No. 1 Arizona vs. Game 1 winner, 2:30 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 5 -- Thursday No. 2 UCLA vs. Game 2 winner , 6 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 6 -- Thursday: No. 3 Washington vs. No. 6 Washington State, 8:30 p.m. TV: FSN
Game 7 -- Friday: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 winner 6, p.m. TV: FSN
Game 8 -- Friday: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 winner , 8:30 p.m. TV: FSN
Final -- Saturday: Pac-10 Tournament Championship, 3 p.m.. TV: CBS

The one that got away: Casey Matthews

October, 28, 2010
10/28/10
7:40
AM PT

Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Casey Matthews says he would've accepted a scholarship offer from USC.

You would think USC might have reserved a scholarship for linebacker Casey Matthews strictly based on his genes.

His dad, Clay, and his uncle, Bruce, both were All-Americans for the Trojans a generation ago before embarking on long NFL careers. His brother, Kyle, lettered at safety for the 2003 national championship team and his brother, Clay, worked his way up from walk-on to starter. Now, he’s one of the most dominant pass rushers in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers.


As Casey Matthews notes, he comes from a long line of late-blooming Matthewses.

But the year he was coming out of Oaks Christian high school, the Trojans' coaches had already locked up Chris Galippo, a more decorated recruit, and they never offered Matthews a scholarship. He wanted the chance to play in the Pac-10 and compete against his brother, so he elected to head north and become a Duck.

“If you had asked me four years ago if I would have accepted an offer from USC, I would have jumped at it,” Matthews said. “But I’m really glad the way things worked out.”

While Saturday’s game is Homecoming for USC players and students, it’s also a homecoming for Matthews. Most of his family will be in the stands.

(Read full post)

Jurrell Casey thinks the Ducks are overrated

October, 27, 2010
10/27/10
7:38
PM PT

Oregon’s offense might lead the nation in all sorts of categories, but not everybody on USC is impressed. According to Trojans defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, the Ducks aren’t all that talented.

“They have a good running back and a good quarterback. Other than that, they’re really not that good,” Casey said.

Asked if he was tired of hearing about Oregon, which leads the NCAA in total offense and scoring offense, he told ESPNLosAngeles.com, “It gets kind of annoying to keep hearing about it, but let them do the talking and we’ll just go out there and show that we can stop them.”

In a way, Casey is only echoing what Oregon coach Chip Kelly said himself the day before. Speaking to Oregon reporters, Kelly said the Trojans’ talent level -- at least according to recruiting analysts -- is greater than that of Oregon’s. Oregon is rated the No. 2 team in the nation by the BCS but ranked first by the Associated Press. USC is No. 24 in the AP rankings.

The teams meet Saturday at the Coliseum in a game that is being televised by ABC.

“In their two-deep, out of their 44 players they have 12 five-star recruits and 26 four-star recruits," Kelly said. “I don't know if there is anybody in the country who has that. I keep hearing USC is down in talent. We have zero five-star recruits in our top 44 and 11 four-star recruits.”

(Read full post)

Video: Breaking down the Ducks

October, 27, 2010
10/27/10
11:36
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Todd McShay, Trevor Matich break down Oregon Ducks' offense and defense prior to the showdown with USC at the Coliseum on Saturday.

First look: USC vs. Oregon Ducks

October, 26, 2010
10/26/10
8:00
AM PT

Kirby Lee/US Presswire
Oregon coach Chip Kelly is working extra hard to make sure his team is focused this week.

Watching Oregon play this season brings to mind Chick Anderson's call from the 1973 Belmont Stakes, the one Secretariat won by 31 lengths. This Oregon offense is performing like a tremendous machine.


Ask UCLA. It just saw the Ducks turn into a lawn mower and beat them 60-13 in Eugene. That wasn't a terribly surprising result. It's what this team has been doing.

The Ducks (7-0, 4-0 in Pac-10), as many people know, are No. 1 in the nation in total offense, No. 1 in scoring offense (at better than 55 points per game) and No. 1 in the Associated Press poll. Yet more fabulous things this offense is doing:

* Outscoring its opponents 156-23 in the second half.

* Allowing a total of seven fourth-quarter points.

* Mounting 16 touchdown drives of less than 56 seconds and 22 TD drives of five plays or fewer.

* Watching running back LaMichael James average 161.8 yards per game, No. 1 in the nation.

(Read full post)

USC edged by Oregon in Pac-10 media poll

July, 29, 2010
7/29/10
12:18
PM PT
The defending Pac-10 champion Oregon Ducks beat USC by a narrow margin in the annual conference media poll released today, ending the Trojans' seven-year streak of earning the top spot every July.

USC earned 12 first-place votes from the 35 West Coast voters participating in the poll this time around, while the Ducks received 15. The margin between the two schools -- just three points (314 to 311) -- equals the second-closest poll ever after the 1989 edition, when the Trojans were picked to beat UCLA by two points.

Oregon State finished third in the voting, 49 points behind USC, and got three first-place votes. Four other Pac-10 squads received at least one first-place vote: Stanford, Arizona, Washington and UCLA.

The conference release notes that the poll has correctly selected the conference champion in 26 of 49 previous years, including nine of the last 10.

The full results, with first-place votes in parentheses:

1. Oregon (15): 314

2. USC (12): 311

3. Oregon State (3): 262

4. Stanford (1): 233

5. Arizona (2): 222

6. Washington (1): 209

7. California: 175

8. UCLA (1): 134

9. Arizona State: 81

10 Washington State: 39

USC to appear eight times on ABC or ESPN

May, 11, 2010
5/11/10
1:16
PM PT
USC will be making plenty of appearances on national television this season.

The Trojans will appear in eight games televised by ABC, ESPN or ESPN2, it was announced today. USC's Sept. 2 opener at Hawaii will be aired live on ESPN as part of the network's ESPN College Football Primetime series, and battles against Pac-10 rivals Stanford, Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Oregon State will also get the primetime treatment.

Beginning with the Trojans' Oct. 30 game against Oregon, USC will appear for four out of five weeks on the networks, including at Arizona and at Oregon State. USC also has a Thanksgiving weekend home game scheduled against Notre Dame for 5 p.m. ET.

The Trojans' longest drought between appearances on the networks will be from Oct. 9 to Oct. 30 — during which time they play just one game, against Cal at the Coliseum.

Fox Sports Net has the rights to broadcast both USC’s home opener against Virginia (Sept. 11) and the Cal game (Oct. 16). The network will announce other games next month.

Overall, ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to televise at least 20 Pac-10 home games, with road games and additional contests as desired. Only 12 in-conference home games have been officially announced, meaning USC could find more time on television.

The schedule:

Sept. 2, at Hawaii, 5 p.m. (ESPN)

Sept. 11, Virginia, 7:30 p.m. (FSN)

Sept. 18, at Minnesota, 12:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Sept. 25, at Washington State, TBA

Oct. 2, Washington, 5 p.m. (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)

Oct. 9, at Stanford, 5 p.m. (ABC)

Oct. 16, California, 12:30 p.m. (FSN)

Oct. 30, Oregon, 5 p.m. (ABC)

Nov. 6, Arizona State, TBA

Nov. 13, at Arizona, 5 p.m. (ABC)

Nov. 20, at Oregon State, 5 p.m. (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)

Nov. 27, Notre Dame, 5 p.m. (ABC/ESPN/ESPN2)

Dec. 4, at UCLA , TBA

*Game times are subject to change
All times are local to game site

NCAA tourney a possibility for women's basketball

March, 9, 2010
3/09/10
9:54
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Since the start of 2010, USC women's basketball has been streaky — very, very streaky.

Beginning Jan. 10, the Women of Troy (18-12, 12-6) won five straight games. Beginning Jan. 30, USC lost five straight games. And beginning Feb. 20, USC won its last five contests.

What does coach Michael Cooper make of these trends now that his team is seeded third in the Pac-10 women's basketball tournament?

Calling his team “very fortunate and lucky,” Cooper said the peaks and valleys will help them in the tournament, which begins Thursday at the Galen Center. The Women of Troy won't play until Friday, when they play sixth-seeded Oregon.

“We have experienced some terrible lows in a five-game losing streak, but it seems like we’ve got ourselves back together,” Cooper said in a Tuesday teleconference. “And now we’re on a five-game winning streak and we’re definitely good going out of the season.”

USC beat some solid teams over the course of the year, including No. 13 Texas, No. 17 Arizona State and No. 19 Mississippi State, but the Women of Troy also lost to some bottom-feeders — the most notable being Washington State, which won only two other conference games.

Asked to essentially make his team's case for the NCAA tournament, which begins a week from Saturday, Cooper didn't hesitate.

"I think we had some very impressive wins throughout the season," Cooper said. "But, again, we had some losses that we shouldn't have lost. It's up to the committee now, but again, that's the position you put yourself in where you go out and play to your opponent's level.

"We never have established the type of play that has been consistent for us."

The easiest way for USC to qualify for the tournament would be to win the Pac-10 tournament outright, but No. 2 Stanford lingers as a potential opponent in the championship game. Still, two wins for the Women of Troy would probably would clinch an at-large bid.

Notes: In other USC news, the baseball team shut out Pepperdine on the road, 5-0, and the men's volleyball team lost to Hawaii at home, 3-1. The Trojans had beaten the Warriors in four sets on Monday night but couldn't repeat their efforts. ... Men's tennis sophomore Steve Johnson, currently ranked third in the nation, was named Pac-10 player of the week Tuesday. ... The women's tennis team fell to visiting Baylor, 5-2, on a windy day in Los Angeles.

Revisiting Oregon

February, 26, 2010
2/26/10
4:12
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The mood in the USC locker room after Thursday's 54-44 loss to Oregon wasn't exactly happy. Before we head over to Dedeaux Field for tonight's 6:30 p.m. matchup with Oklahoma State, here are a few quotes that couldn't fit into the recap:

Senior guard Mike Gerrity, on hoping to finish well at the Galen Center on Saturday: "I'm just glad that's not our last game that we're leaving on."

More Gerrity, on offensive failures that contributed to the team's 12-point second half: "We settled a bit for the outside shot instead of trying to get it into the bigs. We were having some success, but I think we got away from that in the second half."

USC coach Kevin O'Neill, on an overall lack of energy exhibited by his team: "Even when we were up nine in the first half, we didn't play with energy. We just didn't have it tonight. I hope we can bounce back Saturday."

Sophomore forward Nikola Vucevic, asked if it was hard to get the ball inside when facing the 2-3 zone: "It is. Because those three guys inside, they really shrink. And as soon as we catch it it's like two or three guys on us. It's really hard to do something inside when a team plays zone because even if you catch it you can't make your move."

More Vucevic, on whether the team is capable of finishing strong and possibly capturing a share of the regular-season Pac-10 title: "It's going to be hard after a game like this tonight. But I think we can still bounce back."

And Oregon coach Ernie Kent, who was both extremely pleased with his team's performance and extremely complimentary of the Trojans: "USC is a big and physical basketball team. They play hard against the glass and the grit of this game was keeping them off the court. This team played very well and were tough competitors tonight."

Next up for the Trojans is a 4:30 game Saturday against Oregon State at the Galen Center, the last home game in the college careers of Gerrity, Dwight Lewis, and Marcus Johnson.

Final: Oregon 54, USC 44

February, 25, 2010
2/25/10
11:14
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USC has had some ugly halves this year.

At home against Nebraska in November, USC put up only 22 points in the final 20 minutes to squander a great opportunity. At Oregon State in January, the Trojans scored 18 in the second half to blow a five-point halftime lead. And even last Saturday in Pullman, Wash., USC had only 19 points in the first half, eventually losing by four to Washington State.

But none of those cold moments compare to the second half the Trojans experienced Thursday night at the Galen Center against visiting Oregon. Ahead 32-23 at the break, USC scored only 12 points to Oregon's 31 in the second half.

The Trojans ended up losing 54-44 — the collective victims of an altogether low energy level, 18 turnovers, and poor shooting.

"We just didn't have it tonight," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said. "Let’s face it, if you score 12 points in a half at this level, you're not going to beat anybody. That’s the plain and simple fact of it.”

There were many explanations for Oregon's offensive outburst of sorts in the second half. O'Neill offered one.

“They were getting to the basket," he said. "We weren’t.”

Oregon coach Ernie Kent offered another: "Tonight USC didn't have answers for our offense."

But the more complex one came from USC's Mike Gerrity, who lamented a lack of good execution on defense.

"We knew they had the ability to put some points on the board fast," Gerrity said. "We tried to limit that."

USC still remarkably out-rebounded the Ducks 47-26 and outscored them in the paint 26-20. But perhaps even more remarkably, considering that stat, the Trojans still lost.

"I think that our bigs did a pretty good job on them in the paint," said USC forward Nikola Vucevic, who recorded 16 rebounds. "But as soon as we started missing shots we just stopped playing on both ends of the court."

Player of the game: Oregon's Tajuan Porter wasn't exactly efficient from the field, but he did lead all scorers with 16 points. The 5-foot-7, 155-pound point guard struggled against the Trojans last month in Eugene and has traditionally struggled on the road, but he played a strong game Thursday, producing four steals and three assists with no tunovers.

"He just played his heart out tonight," Kent said of his senior guard. "He is the guy who came through big for us tonight."

Play of the game: With a little more than a minute left in the game, USC was down 47-44 with the ball and a chance to tie the score. But a Gerrity 3-point attempt came up short, and Porter hit a big 3-pointer out of a timeout to clinch the victory.

Immediately after, Porter stole the ball away from Gerrity and dished it to LeKendric Longmire for an easy layup.

Within 30 seconds of the initial shot, fans were filing out of the Galen Center at an unbelievable rate

Quote of the game: "Our team is, in my estimation, starting to wear down," O'Neill said. "When your three seniors shoot five of 17, three of 14 and 0 of 7, it’s very difficult to win."

O'Neill highlighted the shooting efforts of his three fourth-years — guards Marcus Johnson and Dwight Lewis plus Gerrity — but he didn't seem to put the blame on them.

In all, USC's four top scorers shot 22 percent from the field. Asked if he agreed with his coach's assessment, Gerrity hesitated.

"I mean, sure," Gerrity said. "I don't think I necessarily want to believe that because we're competitors and we want to win.

"But there's really no excuse."

Notes: With the loss, USC moves into a three-way tie for third in the Pac-10. The best finish the Trojans can achieve now is a share of first — assuming they win out. ... The USC women managed to top Oregon, 87-84, in Eugene, as point guard Ashley Corral scored a game-high 23 points. The announcement of the score in the first half brought considerable applause from the 6,152 fans in attendance at the Galen Center. ... USC assistant coach Bob Cantu was seen speaking with Athletic Director Mike Garrett inside the USC locker room just as reporters entered. Both men were in Tempe, Ariz. last Saturday for a hearing before the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

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