Analysis of Oregon’s blowout of UCLA, and what it means for USC

This game was not close. It wasn’t close midway through the second quarter. It wasn’t close at halftime. It wasn’t close in the third quarter. It wasn’t close in the fourth quarter.

As soon as Oregon grabbed a 24-10 lead over UCLA midway through the second quarter, it never led by fewer than 11 points. It led by at least 15 for nearly all of the game’s final 35 minutes. This was a comprehensive victory by the Ducks, who threw the ball and ran the ball exactly the way they hoped. They did whatever they wanted. They dominated on fourth down. They controlled this game and left no doubt about the final outcome.

Let’s make sense of this result and what it means for USC on various levels:

FIRST THING

Barring something really crazy, if USC beats UCLA, it will finish ahead of the Bruins in the Pac-12 standings. Whatever else you might think about the balance of power in the Pac-12, that much is almost certainly true after Week 8.

SECOND THING

The other top-line story here is that USC should be able to light up UCLA’s defense. This is not a good defense. Oregon did whatever it wanted with a mixture of running and passing. There’s no reason USC can’t do the same.

FIRST TO 50

Scoring 45 points might not be enough for either USC or UCLA on Nov. 19. Scoring 50 might be required.

UCLA looked slow and weak against Oregon’s offense. The Trojans have to hold serve on each possession and maximize their potential on offense.

DEFENSE DOESN'T HAVE TO DOMINATE

The USC defense doesn’t have to be great against UCLA. It just has to make a handful of key plays and not allow huge gains over the top. This is what Oregon did against UCLA. Combined with an offense which gained an early lead and applied scoreboard pressure, the Ducks were able to establish the kind of game they wanted. USC needs to do something similar against the Bruins when they meet.

FIND JAKE BOBO

UCLA’s best pass-catcher is regularly Dorian Thompson-Robinson’s first target. USC will need to make sure Bobo doesn’t roast the Trojans the way Utah’s Dalton Kincaid did.

IDENTIFY KEEGAN JONES

UCLA’s offense starts with DTR and Zach Charbonnet. If Bobo is not a passing target for DTR, Keegan Jones coming out of the backfield is very fast in open space. He will become another priority for USC’s defense.

DTR AS A RUNNER

Oregon never did allow DTR to bust loose for a very long run. There were some medium-range scrambles, but nothing approaching 30 or 40 yards.

HORIZONTAL STRETCH

Oregon did hit a deep ball for a touchdown, but not before establishing the run and getting various players involved on shorter routes in which quarterback Bo Nix threw the ball early and stretched the UCLA defense side to side. The horizontal stretch preceded the vertical stretch.

LIKE THE UTAH GAME

USC played the run and was not ready to defend the pass against Utah. USC needs to enter the UCLA game being willing to allow some short runs and ball-control drives in exchange for not giving up big plays down the field.

USC SPEED

The Trojans’ skill-position players are faster than UCLA’s defenders. Period. That’s the tweet.

OFFENSIVE LINE STRENGTH

If USC can manage the health of its offensive line in the weeks preceding the UCLA game, and if it can enter the UCLA game at full strength (or close to it) up front, the Trojans should expect to thump the Bruins’ offense.

LANNING

Notice Dan Lanning’s surprise onside kick against UCLA. Lincoln Riley might need to find a moment in which he can be ultra-aggressive. He needs to find the right spot. Lanning found the right spot versus the Bruins.

PERIMETER

Most of Oregon’s pass plays were outside the hashmarks, not in the middle third of the field. That’s something for Lincoln Riley to note against UCLA.

PASS RUSH

Oregon wasn’t getting home to DTR. The Ducks’ pass rush was hardly overwhelming. This reinforces the point that containment of DTR — no big scrambles, no improvisational plays — might be enough against this UCLA offense, provided that the secondary plays better than it did against Utah.

4TH DOWNS

Oregon was aggressive on fourth downs in this game and converted them. USC will need to approach UCLA’s defense the same way. That’s where the Trojans have to establish their advantage and build on it.

PAC-12 RACE

If Oregon can beat Utah at home in one month, USC-UCLA will likely be for a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game opposite the Ducks.

Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire