By STEVEN VAUGHAN, 750 THE GAME
This is the game most Oregon fans thought they would see in the Pac-12 championship game. Oregon and USC. It didn’t work out last season but we get it on Saturday at Autzen Stadium.
The hype for the game has died down a little as USC has struggled losing three of four games and the only win they have was a one point victory over Cal. But the Trojans still have reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams who is putting up elite numbers.
A lot has been made of late kickoff times in the Pac-12. That’s nothing new. But head coach Dan Lanning at his Monday press conference is embracing the late kickoff and says he actually likes it.
“I don’t pick it, so let’s play,” Lanning said. “We’ve got to play a lot of early games. I’m expecting an elite atmosphere from our fans. So they maybe got to start a little bit later in the day and not get too excited before the game starts. But night games are fun. I always liked Friday Night Lights in high school so I’m all for it.”
Caleb Williams is the odds on favorite to be the first overall pick in the NFL draft and is the reigning Heisman trophy winner. Even though the Trojans have lost a few games, it’s not because of the offense. Lanning knows that Saturday’s game against the USC offense will be like no other matchup the Ducks have had all year.
“I don’t think we’ve seen an offense quite like this offense,” said Lanning. “It’s really unique. The closest would be Washington’s in some ways with the explosive passes. The quarterback can make every single throw. They’ve got great weapons. They’re strong on the offensive front with their o-line. They got a really good running game. The shot game is always there. He (Caleb Williams) extends plays and holds on to the ball longer then anyone in college football and he can make any throw. So that’s dangerous if you’re not able to get him down on the ground or not able to cover for a long time.”
USC has been one of the worst defenses in the nation this season and they just fired their defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. Lanning was asked if the firing is going to make it difficult to prepare since they haven’t seen new defensive coordinator Brian Odom make any play calls for this Trojans team.
“I think there will be a lot of similarities to some of the stuff they already do,” said Lanning. “I think that that group will have some new wrinkles that we potentially haven’t seen. But it all comes back to what football is all about. Tackling, blocking, breaking tackles, making catches. We have to play to our identity. I hope when people watch this team, really on both sides of the ball, you see an identity.”
The Oregon Ducks are a huge favorite at home over USC with the point spread on Tuesday at betonline.ag at Oregon -16.5. It will be a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Fox.