LOS ANGELES-What a difference a couple of games can make. In the case of the Oregon Ducks, it hasn’t mattered too much during the 2016 college football season. The Ducks haven’t been a good team all year. So the butt-kicking they absorbed Saturday at the hands of the USC Trojans wasn’t a real surprise.
What’s surprising is the way the USC offense continue to burn their opponents. After looking and playing like duds in cleats the first couple of games this season, USC is now playing the way some people expected them to play against top-ranked Alabama: fast, furious and with controlled mayhem.
In a nutshell, it’s kick butt time and take names later. Their attitude is different. Their strut is different. The Trojans are playing on a different level than when they got smoked by the Crimson Tide in the first game of the season.
Cal can vouch for that. Colorado might agree with that assessment as well after their 21-17 takedown by the Trojans. weeks ago. And we know what Oregon thinks after that 45-20 speedfest the Ducks had no answer for at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. That’s a bit strange just writing that. It used to be that Oregon walked into a football game as the superior speed demons.
That’s not happening anymore. The Ducks’ 3-6 overall record speaks to that. Too much speed. Too sudden was the explosion. An avalanche in points became the norm. This used to be the mantra that University of Oregon opponents had to worry about when they faced off against the speed-warped Ducks.
Oregon’s quick and smallball game befuddled coordinators and ran defenses ragged. It used to be that when Oregon stepped on the football field, the “Mike Tyson” affect would kick in. Teams would be absolutely terrified of the Ducks and their vaunted speed. That’s not the case anymore.
Big and fast will beat small and fast any day of the week. That’s the way things played out for the Ducks in the national championship game against Ohio State two years ago. That’s the way it has been playing out since then for the Ducks.
Oregon received another dose of that reality when they ran into a red-hot USC team. They also got a punch to the gut from running back Ronald Jones II. With a defense that looked like it can’t stop water dripping from the kitchen faucet, Oregon saw Jones rip and run his way to 171 yards and four touchdowns in a lopsided 45-20 win by USC.
The game wasn’t even that close. what it looked like was the Jones left, Jones right, Jones up the middle show. This is becoming quite a nasty habit that Jones has inflicted on Pac-12 Conference opponents recently.
Just last week, Jones went buck wild against Cal with 223 yards on the ground. If that wasn’t enough, Jones made it look easy in tying the Trojans’ record of four touchdowns in a game by a running back, matching LenDale White’s longtime mark.
With his recent tear, Jones just might be the best college running back in the country. Now wouldn’t that be something? A star college running back from the University of Southern California. After all, this is the pace where Men of Troy have punctuated the running back position with Heisman Trophy platitudes and other accolades.
Do we need to go down the line about this? We all know the running back standard that hail from Southern California. Marcus Allen. Anthony Davis. Charles White. Reggie Bush. O.J. Simpson. Mike Garrett. LenDale White. And we can’t leave off the great Sam “Bam” Cunningham off that list.
Could Jones add his name to that rich history by the end of the 2017 season? Maybe. He’s making a good run at it with the way he has been running the football this season. If he keeps this up, Jones will crack the 1,000-yards plateau pretty easily.
During the last several weeks, Jones has looked like the best running back in the country. Yeah, we all know about the toughness and grit of Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey. We get the hype around the raw explosive running skills of LSU stud Leonard Fournette.
Jones has ran the football lately like he belongs in that conversation with these two future NFL draft picks. Each time Jones goes off on a running tantrum, the USC offense blows up as well. Like he did on his 66-yard touchdown run in the third quarter against Oregon, Jones has looked like an unstoppable speed machine with gears going from fast to turbocharged during his rushing binge.
That’s about to be tested in the next three games. But for now, Jones and the Trojans will take small victories any way they can find them.