The penultimate regular-season match up for USC football will require the Trojan offense to find a dominant streak against the Oregon Duck defense.
The Ducks have not presented the most formidable challenge to offenses this season, ranking at the bottom of the Pac-12 in scoring, total and passing defense while sitting sixth in rush defense.
Here’s a closer look at the Oregon defense:
The aptly-named DeForest Buckner leads the Ducks up front on the defensive line and has earned a spot on the midseason watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award as one of the nation’s top defensive ends.
With just one more tackle for loss and three sacks, Buckner would put his name among the top ten defensive lineman in Oregon history in both categories.
Buckner has been particularly consistent and productive in the last six games of the campaign, logging nine of his team-leading 13 tackles and six of his 7.5 sacks in that span.
Alongside Buckner, the Ducks have enjoyed a great deal of consistency on the front lines. Nose tackle Alex Balducci has started 25 consecutive games for Oregon while defensive ends Tui Talia and Henry Mondeaux have traded off in the third opening on the line.
Jan 12, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Oregon Ducks linebacker Danny Mattingly (46) celebrates with linebacker Joe Walker (35) after intercepting a pass against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the third quarter in the 2015 CFP National Championship Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Those four have combined for 17 of the Duck’s 29 sacks on the season, which ranks them alongside the Trojans at second in the Pac-12.
Experienced and Consistent
Starting outside linebacker Christian French is out indefinitely for the Ducks after suffering an injury against Arizona State, but his replacement Torrodney Prevot picked up the slack against Stanford with six tackles, two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery on the night.
Besides Prevot, the Oregon linebacking corps is experienced and consistent.
Joe Walker leads the team with 67 tackles on the season and has 20 career starts to his name. Next to him, Rodney Hardick boasts 38 career starts and is second in tackles with 62.
On the outside, Tyson Coleman will be making his 29th career start against the Trojans.
Mix and Match Secondary
USC will be without key players on defense against the potent Duck offense, but Oregon is not without their injury troubles as they prepare to face the Trojan’s talent on offense.
An injury to cornerback Chris Seisay way back against Michigan State began the Ducks on a game of mix-and-match in the secondary as they attempted to figure out the right combination of personnel.
Ultimately, Oregon saw some improvement when they moved safety Tyree Robinson to cornerback for the Washington game with receiver Charles Nelson taking over his spot in center field.
However, Robinson will not be available to attempt to stop JuJu Smith-Schuster on Saturday after he sustained a foot injury against Stanford.
In his place, the Ducks could turn to true freshman Ugo Amadi or safety Glen Ihenacho to play opposite Arrion Springs, who has started all but one game this season. However, neither option is not ideal.
What the stats say
[table id=68 /]
Projected starting lineups: USC football vs. Oregon
Oregon Defense[table id=69 /]
USC Offense[table id=70 /]