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USC's Matt Barkley says Oregon is deserving of its ranking

The junior quarterback had said that the Ducks teams he played against in the past were better, but he said Tuesday that No. 4 Oregon might have one of the top defenses the Trojans will play.

November 15, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • USC quarterback Matt Barkley isn't convinced that Oregon's latest incarnation will be the toughest Ducks team he's played against during his college career.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley isn't convinced that Oregon's… (Christine Cotter / Associated…)

Matt Barkley has proved adept at making adjustments this season.

USC's junior quarterback was at it again Tuesday, though the pocket in which he displayed poise was created by reporters and camera operators, not offensive linemen.

Barkley had said last week that while Oregon was very good, he believed that Ducks teams he played against in the past were better.

That caused Trojans Coach Lane Kiffin to run interference Sunday, saying Barkley would have "a very different opinion" after watching film of the Ducks, who are No. 4 in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

OK, so after reviewing the film.?

"They're well deserving of their ranking both on offense and defense," Barkley said after practice, explaining that he made his original statement based only on scores. "After watching tape of them, they're probably one of the top defenses we'll be playing this year. And so we'll be having a challenge."

Barkley is 0-2 against the Ducks.

As a freshman in 2009, he was on the losing end of a 47-20 rout at Eugene, Ore.

Oregon topped the Trojans, 53-32, last season at the Coliseum.

Oregon kept alive its hopes of returning to the BCS title game by rolling past Stanford on Saturday. The Ducks intercepted two passes by Andrew Luck and recovered three fumbles.

"It's a very physical defense that made a statement," Barkley said.

Barkley hopes to make one of his own Saturday night at Autzen Stadium.

He has passed for 29 touchdowns, with six interceptions, but has lacked a signature victory in three seasons with the Trojans.

Oregon Coach Chip Kelly said the quarterback has improved since the last time he faced the Ducks.

"Matt Barkley is at another level," Kelly said, noting that the emergence of freshman receiver Marqise Lee has provided the Trojans another weapon.

Barkley will need all he can get against a Ducks defense that rotates numerous players and disguises coverages and blitzes.

"They try to confuse you, but there are weaknesses and holes that we will have to exploit," Barkley said. "We have to be smart enough, especially me, to recognize this. But they are vulnerable in some aspects."

Motivational tools

The Trojans are two-touchdown underdogs against a team that will try to extend its home winning streak to 22 games.

"I don't know that anybody could tell you there's a better team when they play at home than the Oregon Ducks," Kiffin said.

Kiffin is using the Trojans' status as motivation for his players.

"A lot of times, in these games the pressure goes the other way with a team that's got a chance to go to the national championship still," Kiffin said. "We'll just go up there and have some fun and see what happens."

Quick hits

Safety T.J. McDonald, who suffered a concussion against Washington, practiced and said he was "fine" after being hospitalized Saturday. ? Defensive tackles Christian Tupou (knee) and DaJohn Harris (ankle) did not practice. ? Tackle Matt Kalil (neck) and Robert Woods (ankle) were limited.

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