It’s always exciting when programs the caliber of No. 6 Oregon and USC meet this late in the season when the stakes are raised. However, Saturday’s late-night contest between the Ducks and Trojans carries theadded weight of College Football Playoff and Pac-12 Championship Game race implications, along with the drama of a staff shake up for a USC team which has lost three of its last four games.
Lincoln Riley fired defensive coordinator Alex Grinch after last week’s 52-42 home to loss to Washington. Shaun Nua and Brian Odom have been elevated to interim co-coordinators in the fallout, and the duo’s first test comes against one of the best offenses in the country.
Oregon rolled up 63 points and nearly 600 yards of offense in a rout of Cal last time out, improving to 8-1 overall and maintaining its No. 6 spot in the College Football Playoff rankings. The path to the playoff for the Ducks likely requires winning the Pac-12 title. With five teams within two games of first place there is little margin for error. One of those teams still in the hunt is USC, which could jump ahead of the Ducks in the standings with a win. When Lincoln Riley said the Trojans still have a lot to play for in 2023, winning a Pac-12 Championship was one of those goals that still on the table.
Oregon vs. USC: Need to know
A Heisman opportunity opposite the reigning Heisman winner: Bo Nix is very much in the Heisman Trophy conversation, boasting one of the best profiles among all quarterbacks this season as well as a career résumé that continues to grow with each game. Nix is the FBS leader with a 78.1% completion rate, which is on track to break the NCAA record set by Alabama quarterback Mac Jones (77.4%). He also ranks fourth in both passer rating (180.14) and passing touchdowns (25). Nix is also the only FBS quarterback with at least 25 passing touchdowns and two or fewer interceptions, as well as the NCAA leader in career quarterback starts with 56 heading into Saturday’s game. Reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams has been the standard for quarterback excellence for much of the last two seasons, so a head-to-head win for Nix would be yet another strong addition on an already-impressive list of accomplishments.
Caleb Williams still riding hot: While the chances of Williams pulling an Archie Griffin and winning back-to-back Heisman Trophies seems less likely with the Trojans’ midseason slide, his performance this year has been nothing short of stellar. Williams is currently No. 1 in the nation in passing touchdowns (28), No. 2 in passing yards (2,958), No. 6 in passer rating (175.0) and No. 9 in yards per attempt (9.48). He is also tied first in the Pac-12 with 10 rushing touchdowns.
What to know about USC’s interim co-coordinators: The decision to move on from Grinch comes as a result of a six-game stretch that saw the Trojans go 3-3 and give up 44.2 points per game. With CFP hopes dashed, Riley has chosen to make a midseason move to salvage the Trojans’ Pac-12 title hopes.
Inside linebackers coach Brian had a stop at Missouri prior to joining Riley and Grinch’s staff at Oklahoma. He followed the pair when they made the move to USC in 2022. Defensive line coach Shaun Nua joined Riley last season after three years at Michigan. Riley indicated that coordinator responsibilities have been split “50-50,” but we don’t know who will call plays. With a laundry list of issues to clean up, including fundamentals like open field tackling, USC will look to make incremental steps against the high-powered Ducks. Because when the offense produces like USC’s does, even small steps on defense could lead to better results on the scoreboard.
How to watch Oregon vs. USC live
Date: Saturday, Nov. 11 | Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Autzen Stadium — Eugene, Oregon
TV: Fox | Live stream: fubo (Try for free)
Oregon vs. USC prediction, picks
Odds via SportsLine consensus
I know this number seems outrageous, but 74 total points seems like a given considering the way these two offenses produce. Like last week against Washington, it’s the kind of game that can see three or four touchdowns scored in just a couple of minutes, which is why you don’t want any part of the big spread (though the lean would be the underdog Trojans there). Take the over and buckle up for a wild late-night ride. Pick: Over 73.5
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 11, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread — all from a proven computer model that has returned well over $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons — and find out.