Ducks present tall task for USC
Trojans face revenge-minded Oregon team with No. 1 scoring offense
LOS ANGELES -- The USC Trojans (6-2, 4-2 Pac-12) -- ranked No. 17 in the BCS standings -- will take on the No. 4 Oregon Ducks (8-0, 5-0 Pac-12) on Saturday in one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the season. The Trojans enter the game on a down note, however, suffering a 39-36 upset loss to Arizona last weekend. Oregon, on the other hand, is coming off a 70-14 victory over Colorado, and it has yet to be seriously challenged in 2012. The Trojans are the last team to defeat the Ducks -- 38-35 last November -- adding a revenge factor to this game for Oregon.
Scoring: 53.4 points per game (No. 1 Pac-12, No. 1 overall)
Rushing: 330.6 yards per game (No. 1 Pac-12, No. 3 overall)
Passing: 209.5 yards per game (No. 8 Pac-12, No. 83 overall)
Total: 540.1 yards per game (No. 2 Pac-12, No. 7 overall)
Quarterback: No. 8 Marcus Mariota (6-foot-4, 211 pounds, Fr.)
Mariota doesn't always put up big numbers, but he does have game-breaking ability and is extremely efficient in running the Ducks' no-huddle spread offense, completing 68.6 percent of his passes. He'll also present a threat to the USC defense on the ground -- he averages 47.2 yards rushing per game.
The Ducks' prolific rushing attack is the foundation of the offense, and Barner has been stellar so far this season, running for 974 yards and 14 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Thomas is one of the nation's most exciting big-play threats, averaging 8.6 yards per carry.
Wide Receiver: No. 1 Josh Huff (5-11, 205, Jr.), No. 7 Keanon Lowe (5-9, 181, So.), No. 16 Daryle Hawkins (6-4, 202, Jr.), No. 11 Bralon Addison (5-10, 189, Fr.), No. 89 Will Murphy (6-2, 193, Sr.)
Addison has emerged as a dangerous weapon in the Ducks' offense, compiling 19 receptions for 226 yards and three touchdowns. Huff, a veteran leader who battled his way back from an early-season knee injury, paced the team with four grabs for 49 yards against Colorado.
Tight End: No. 15 Colt Lyerla (6-5, 246, So.), No. 80 Koa Ka'ai (6-4, 251, Fr.), No. 85 Pharaoh Brown (6-6. 234, Fr.)
Lyerla, who also lines up at running back on occasion, is a phenomenal physical talent who has 12 receptions for 189 yards and four touchdowns.
Offensive Line: LT No. 64 Tyler Johnstone (6-6, 292, Fr.), LG No. 60 Ryan Clanton (6-5, 305, Sr.), C No. 55 Hroniss Grasu (6-3, 294, So.), RG No. 61 Nick Cody (6-5, 310, Sr.), RT No. 75 Jake Fisher (6-6, 294, So.)
A key component to the Ducks' potent ground game, Oregon will shuffle a number of offensive linemen in and out periodically to keep their legs fresh. And while it has had sporadic dips in production, this unit has been solid for the most part, allowing just 10 sacks while paving the way for a rushing attack that averages 6.2 yards per carry.
Scoring: 19.4 points per game (No. 3 Pac-12, No. 24 overall)
Rushing: 137.9 yards per game (No. 5 Pac-12, No. 39 overall)
Passing: 213.6 yards per game (No. 3 Pac-12, No. 45 overall)
Total: 351.5 yards per game (No. 4 Pac-12, No. 35 overall)
Defensive Line: No. 96 Dion Jordan (6-7, 243, Sr.), No. 65 Isaac Remington (6-4, 301, Sr.), No. 92 Wade Keliikipi (6-3, 295, Jr.), No. 66 Taylor Hart (6-6, 292, Jr.)
A deep and talented group, the defensive line is led by Jordan, one of the conference's top pass rushers. But he suffered an apparent shoulder injury against the Buffaloes, and his status is unknown. Jordan and Hart lead the team with five sacks each.
Veteran senior leaders Clay and Alonso are the names to watch here, combining for 85 tackles on the season. The status of Alonso is still uncertain, however, after missing last week's contest with a wrist injury.
Cornerback: No. 27 Terrance Mitchell (6-0, 189, So.), No. 14 Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (5-10, 190, So.)
Mitchell and Ekpre-Olomu have developed into a lockdown duo. Teams tested the less-experienced Ekpre-Olomu in the early part of the season without success -- he's collected an impressive two interceptions, 10 breakups and 12 passes defended while also forcing four fumbles.
Safety: No. 21 Avery Patterson (5-10, 185, Jr.), No. 12 Brian Jackson (5-10, 205, Jr.)
This unit took a hit when senior free safety John Boyett went down with a season-ending knee injury in September, but Patterson has filled in nicely, collecting three of the team's 15 interceptions.
Kicker: No. 93 Rob Beard (6-0, 215, Sr.), No. 41 Alejandro Maldonado (5-10, 185, Jr.)
Beard has connected on 4 of 7 field-goal attempts in 2012, while Maldonado has recorded 12 touchbacks on 71 kickoffs.
Punter: No. 49 Jackson Rice (6-3, 218, Sr.)
Rice ranks No. 88 in the nation with an average of just 37.7 yards per punt.
Punt Returner: No. 6 De'Anthony Thomas (5-9, 176, So.)
Thomas averages 18.3 yards per return, taking one back 73 yards for a score last weekend.
Kick Returner: No. 6 De'Anthony Thomas (5-9, 176, So.), No. 7 Keanon Lowe (5-9, 181, So.)
The Ducks rank last in the nation with an average of just 15 yards per kickoff return, as teams have made a concerted effort to avoid Thomas.