USC is starting to look like the team we all thought that they would be this year. The Master Coaches Poll has had them ranked at No. 6 for three straight weeks, which is higher than any other poll.
SC is suddenly getting about eight starters back that have been missing. They have suffered from a phenomenal amount of injuries, having five defensive starters out early in the season. To me, they have had a hard time figuring out who they are. Over the past few years, they have been a team that ran a wide open offense that tried to throw the ball all over the field. But this team is starting to understand that this year, they are just not the same as they have been and should try to win on defense.
I think that their defense might be able to get them back in the driver's seat in the Pac-10, but Oregon has one of those offenses that makes you think, "Wow! They're faster than everybody!" The fifth-ranked Ducks aren't a great defensive team, but they are tough to beat if they can get you in a shootout.
To win games, the Trojans should be running the football and playing great defense, but they have been slow to recognize the personality of their team. It seems to me that in the Pac-10, you have to take an oath that says you will to try to score 40 points and throw the ball 40 times per game. I don't think anybody wants to play that physical style of football that is played in the SEC week in and week out, but if the Trojans decide to do so, they will find themselves right back in the hunt, not only for the Pac-10 championship, but in the national title hunt as well.
The feeling around the country is that USC has been taking teams lightly and become complacent. I don't agree at all. I don't think the team has played with indifference, they have just had a frightening amount of injuries. The SC defense has about five players that could be first round picks in the NFL Draft, but they have been out for the past three or four weeks (such as Brian Cushing and Hershel Dennis).
John David Booty has been hurt as well, and Mark Sanchez has taken over at quarterback. He's a good player, certainly one of the best high school quarterbacks coming out of Southern California in years. He is starting to look like he can manage the team, which will be a difficult task on the road in Eugene. Oregon is a very difficult place to play, and it's about time for the rain to start. I think they have a faucet up there that they turn on about this time of year that should be running until April. It will be tough for SC because some of their kids from may not have ever seen rain before.
This game should be a great one to watch and will probably decide the Pac-10 champ. So, sit back and enjoy another wild weekend of college football.