Published on February 12, 2014 at 10:21 pm Contact Meredith: firstname.lastname@example.org | @MerNewman93 Facebook Twitter Google+ [View the story “Syracuse defeats Pitt 58-56 ” on Storify] Comments
Jumpman · Junior running back Justin Davis is the Trojans second leaing rusher this season behind freshman Ronald Jones II. Davis has carried the ball 99 times for 505 yards and five touchdowns. – Tal Volk | Daily TrojanAfter both teams got off to slow starts, USC will head to Eugene where both the Ducks and the Trojans will put a four-game winning streak on the line. No. 24 USC and No. 23 Oregon are both 7-3 overall and 5-2 in conference. Last week, while the Trojans barely escaped a loss in Boulder, the Ducks upset Stanford 38-36.Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams fractured his finger in the team’s season opener and his injury may be to blame for his team’s shaky start. Since Adams regained his health, however, the Ducks are 4-0 and look a lot like their former selves. The team is averaging 42.3 points and 538.5 total yards during their win streak.“This is going to be about points,” interim head coach Clay Helton said. “It always is with Oregon. A lot of pressure this week is going to be on our offense.”Helton emphasized the importance of scoring points against an Oregon team that wins by scoring a lot of points in a short amount of time. The Ducks are especially dangerous on the ground, boasting the No. 4 rushing offense in the nation, tallying 2,974 yards on the ground this season alone.The Trojan defense will have its hands full with the explosive Oregon defense, and will be without freshman linebacker Cam Smith, who had three interceptions against Utah. Smith suffered a season-ending knee injury at Colorado. Sophomore Uchenna Nwosu, who typically plays outside linebacker, has moved to inside linebacker to cover for Smith’s absence.“They told me, ‘We need you to play inside. Cam’s down, Lamar’s down. We need some help,’” Nwosu said.On offense, Helton has the Pac-12’s leader in pass efficiency to help him execute his plan to put a lot of points on the board. Redshirt senior quarterback Cody Kessler and his favorite target, sophomore wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, will face a defense that has given up a little more than 317 yards per game and 31 passing touchdowns this season. While the Trojans have previously depended on a slowed down tempo that grinds out points on the ground, they’ll rely a lot on Kessler’s arm on Saturday.Kessler will have to face more than just the Oregon defense, however. Autzen Stadium is known to draw a packed house and throw opposing quarterbacks off their game with extremely loud cheering. Kessler, however, said he doesn’t let the crowd phase him.“But you kind of feed off it sometimes,” Kessler said. “It’s fun to have them yell at you and then you make a play and it goes quiet. And then they make a play, and it gets loud again. It’s kind of back and forth. That’s what you expect in road games.”As for Smith-Schuster, a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist, he will be facing a team he almost ended up playing for. The sophomore wide receiver had decided to play for the Ducks, but changed his mind just days before signing day to stay closer to his home in Long Beach.“All those [defensive backs] I saw there, I’m going against them this Saturday, so it will be a lot of fun to play against them,” Smith-Schuster said.A win for USC would mean only a win over UCLA separates them from a Pac-12 South title. Oregon would need a win over the Trojans and for Cal to upset Stanford this weekend to be competitive for the Pac-12 North title.The game is set for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon.
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