USC: Tom Osborne

First, first look: Oregon

July, 29, 2011
As the weeks count down until USC football fall camp begins on Aug. 4, we've been offering up an early first look at the 12 scheduled opponents for the 2011 season, in chronological order. We began back in May with Minnesota, Utah and Syracuse, continued the next three weeks with Arizona State, Arizona, and Cal and added Notre Dame, Stanford, Colorado and Washington recently. We now present Oregon, who the Trojans will play on the road on Saturday, Nov. 19:

History: Oregon has won seven of the last 11 games played between the schools, a period of dominance unmatched in the Ducks' history against the Trojans.

All-time, USC still leads the series 37-18-2. This is a matchup of, at this point, teams on opposite trajectories. Oregon is on the way up; USC is on the way down. Look at the last two head-to-head matchups -- Oregon 47, USC 20 and Oregon 53, USC 32 -- for evidence of that.

Of course, a game like this can help reverse things.

An interesting note about the schools' recent histories: Of the last seven Oregon-USC games, only one has been decided by 10 points or fewer -- and none by less than a touchdown. Five of the last six have also been won by the better-ranked team entering into the game.

Offense: Darron Thomas and LaMichael James are the stars, at quarterback and running back, respectively.

Thomas, a redshirt junior who played his first year and sat out his second, is a true talent who had a very, very good season as a first-year starter in 2010. Coach Chip Kelly didn't ask him to do too much, and he didn't try to. His touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio was a healthy 30-to-9, and he was 17th nationally in passing efficiency. There's also, of course, his running ability -- he carried the ball 93 times for 486 yards and five touchdowns last season.

Oregon's running back corps is probably the best in the nation. James, also a redshirt junior, was a unanimous first-team All-American last season with more than 1700 yards rushing. Then there's Kenjon Barner, a dynamite returner who quietly accumulated 551 yards on the ground as a backup last year. The Ducks also add redshirt freshman Lache Seastrunk and true freshman DeAnthony Thomas into the mix, both five-star prospects out of high school who USC recruited heavily.

Oh, and then there's senior tight end David Paulson, an all-conference first-team pick. He was the Ducks' representative at Pac-12 media day last week.

But, hey, their two top receivers and three starting offensive linemen are gone, so it's not all a nightmare. Oregon will need production from junior college transfer receivers Lavasier Tuinei and Rahsaan Vaughn, plus sophomore Josh Huff, who had a 57-yard catch against the Trojans last season.

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