USC and Oregon, the two preseason favorites to win the Pac-12 title, are both finally playing to expectations and bring four-game winning streaks into Saturday's showdown. The host Ducks are -4 on 5Dimes' college football odds with a total of 71.5.
USC Can Take Care Of Own Business
No. 24 Southern Cal (7-3, 5-2) was the heavy favorite in the Pac-12 South and still controls its own destiny to win it. Beat Oregon and then UCLA next week and the Trojans will play the Pac-12 North winner in Santa Clara, Calif. And should the Trojans win all three of those games for a Rose Bowl spot, it would be tough for athletic director Pat Haden not to give the full-time job to interim coach Clay Helton. USC's only loss since Helton took over for Steve Sarkisian was at a very good Notre Dame team.
Last weekend, the Trojans nearly got caught in a major trap game, needing to rally past Colorado 27-24 in Boulder. The Buffs led 17-3 late in the second quarter -- the first time Colorado had a lead in a game against USC since Nov. 4, 2011 -- before Southern Cal scored 24 straight points. It was the first win for the Trojans after trailing by double-digits at halftime since 2005 at Arizona State. Cody Kessler was 17-for-27 for 204 yards with three TDs and a pick. JuJu Smith-Schuster, one of the nation's top receivers, had three catches for 66 yards and a score. He leads the Pac-12 and ranks sixth in the nation with an average of 116 receiving yards per game. Smith-Schuster nearly went to Oregon.
It was a painful win over Colorado for USC. Starting middle linebacker Cameron Smith, a true freshman, and senior middle linebacker Lamar Dawson each will miss the rest of the season due to injuries suffered in the game. Smith had a team-best 78 tackles, six passes defensed and three interceptions (all in an upset of Utah). Dawson, a three-year starter who came off the bench this season, had 31 tackles. Guard Viane Talamaivao tore his meniscus and is likely out.
USC is 5-5 against the spread on college football odds and 4-6 'over/under.'
Oregon Needs Win, Help
No. 23 Oregon (7-3, 5-2) has really come on since graduate transfer Vernon Adams got healthy. He was hurt in the opening win over Eastern Washington and struggled in a Week 2 loss at Michigan State. After sitting out games against Colorado and Washington State, Adams and the Ducks have won four straight. Adams has completed 64-for-106 passes for 1,095 yards and 12 touchdowns in that stretch. Oregon’s offense has averaged 42.25 points per and has gained an average of 538.5 yards per game.
In last week's 38-36 upset win at then-No. 7 Stanford, one of the nation's best defensive teams, Adams (who grew up in L.A. and has a USC tattoo) was a very effective 10-for-12 for 205 yards with two touchdowns, a 47-yarder and 49-yarder. Royce Freeman continued his huge season with 16 carries for 105 yards and a score. He leads the nation in rushes of 10 or more yards with 47 and is seventh nationally in rushing yards per game (139.2). Oregon’s five touchdown drives against Stanford totaled just 6:29 in time of possession. The Ducks held the ball for only 17:54, but that's who they are.
If Oregon beats USC and Oregon State next week, and Stanford loses to California on Saturday in the Big Game, the Ducks win the North Division. Oregon also must win this game to keep its chances of a 10-win season alive. It hasn't won less than 10 games since 2007, which was pre-Chip Kelly.
Oregon is 6-4 ATS on college football picks and 6-4 O/U.
These are the two marquee programs in the Pac-12 so it's hard to believe they haven't played since 2012. Oregon was ranked No. 4 for that November game in Los Angeles and beat the No. 17 Trojans 62-51 behind a school-record 321 yards rushing and five touchdowns from Kenjon Barner. Oregon had 730 yards and 62 points -- the most ever allowed by USC, which began playing football in 1888. At the time, it was third-highest scoring game involving ranked teams in the history of the AP poll. The last meeting in Eugene was in 2011 and unranked USC pulled off a 38-35 upset over the No. 4 Ducks. That killed Oregon's BCS national title hopes and ended the Ducks' 21-game winning streak at Autzen Stadium and 19-game winning streak in conference games.
College Football Picks: Give the points and go 'over' at 5Dimes. USC is 7-16 ATS in its past 23 road games. Oregon is 13-3 ATS in its past 16 conference games. The 'over' is 4-1 in Oregon's past five after a win. The 'over' is 4-0 in the past four meetings.