Hogue Report: Oregon best for USC now 

October, 31, 2012
Marqise LeeJayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireUSC will need to elevate its game in order to knock off the high-powered Oregon Ducks.
Since Saturday’s loss in Tucson, the misery of USC fans has been well-documented. Lane Kiffin, the undisciplined players who commit too many errors, the USC defense, even Matt Barkley -- they have all been targets of scorn, and to a large extent, rightly so. It does no good to add to that litany, so let me take a different position: There is no team better for the Trojans to play right now that the Oregon Ducks.

As I type that statement, I’m not sure I believe it. The Ducks may be the best team in the country. Their offense is better than last year’s, with a better quarterback running it. The defense is probably the best coordinator Nick Aliotti has ever had. Who would want to play them after what USC showed last weekend?

After all, this is a USC team that hasn’t played a complete game against a good opponent all year. Sure, there are flashes of brilliance and great displays of talent scattered throughout each game, but almost every game has also left you scratching your head to one degree or another. Trojan fans want to believe, so they have. They believed that USC would get its act together by the time this stretch run came. They believed USC wouldn’t commit a staggering amount of penalties in a big game. They believed that the second-half struggles USC has shown in game after game were just a symptom of USC taking its foot off the gas, or maybe just working on the run game, and were even somehow purposeful -- not a reason for concern. I think the team believed all these things, as well. On Saturday in Tucson, that belief system ran smack into the reality that this is who these Trojans are right now. So again, as the Trojans come to grips with their reality, why would you want to play Oregon this week?