USC turns its focus to preparing for Oregon

On to Oregon.

With his team preparing to face what he described as “the hottest team in the country right now,” USC Coach Lane Kiffin on Sunday did not field many questions from reporters about the Trojans’ 40-17 victory over Washington.

Instead, the topic was an Oregon team that routed Stanford, 53-30, and moved up to No. 4 in the Associated Press media poll and the Bowl Championship Series standings.

USC remained No. 18 in the AP poll. The Trojans travel to Autzen Stadium to play the Ducks on Saturday.


Oregon has won nine consecutive games since losing to top-ranked Louisiana State, 40-27, in the opener.

“They’re a very different team than they were on that day,” Kiffin said.

Oregon features quarterback Darron Thomas and running backs LaMichael James and DeAnthony Thomas, the former Crenshaw High star.

James has averaged a nation-leading 150.9 yards rushing per game. Oregon ranks third in scoring, averaging 46.7 points per game.

The Ducks also demonstrated against Stanford that they can make plays on defense.

The Trojans have less than a week to prepare for a program that in the last two-plus years has lost only one game that wasn’t an opener or bowl game.

“They’re difficult to prepare for because they are so unique,” Kiffin said, adding, “Their style is just extremely different than what you face. There’s nothing pro-style about it.”

Oregon defeated USC, 47-20, at Autzen Stadium in 2009. The Ducks won, 53-32, last season at the Coliseum.

USC quarterback Matt Barkley said Saturday that Oregon was very good but that he thought that the Ducks were better when the Trojans played them in the past.

“I believe Matt made that assessment without watching any film,” Kiffin said. “And so when he gets here… and starts watching this film, I’m sure he’ll have a very different opinion.”

Penalty problem

USC had many bright spots against Washington, but the Trojans cannot defeat Oregon if they commit 11 penalties as they did against the Huskies.

Offensive tackle Matt Kalil said he knew he would be flagged for a late hit he delivered in front of Washington’s bench during the Trojans’ first possession.

“I just wanted to set the tone for the game,” he said.

Kiffin was not happy.

“We don’t coach that way,” Kiffin said. “Set the tone by the play between the whistles. That’s something Matt had an issue with in the past. He had done a much better job this year so we’re not very pleased with that.”

Quick hits

Safety T.J. McDonald, who left the Washington game in the first half because of concussion symptoms, spent Saturday night in the hospital undergoing tests. McDonald was released Sunday after “tests came back in good shape,” Kiffin said…. The Trojans resume practice Tuesday.