LOS ANGELES — No. 7 Oregon enjoyed its most lopsided win over USC in over a century.
The Ducks’ 56-24 demolition of the Trojans on Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is the second-largest margin of victory for Oregon in the series, trailing only the Webfoots' 34-0 win on Nov. 8, 1915, in Eugene, in the first-ever matchup between the programs.
Here are five takeaways from a historic night in a historic venue:
1. Playoffs? Are you kidding me, playoffs?
No, we’re not kidding.
Credit Oregon coach Mario Cristobal for taking a long pause and then giving an honest answer when asked about his team being in the hunt for a College Football Playoff berth.
There was no need for a Jim Mora Sr. viral meltdown after the Ducks (8-1, 6-0) notched their eighth consecutive win since dropping the opener to Auburn.
Cristobal will at least take a peek at the rankings when the selection committee, chaired by Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens, reveals them Tuesday night.
“It’s everybody’s goal at the beginning of the year,” Cristobal said. “We’ll see where things are and then kind of go from there.”
2. This is starting to feel like a team of destiny
Oregon, after pulling off back-to-back comeback wins over North Division rivals Washington and Washington State, rallied from an early 10-point deficit to overwhelm the South Division-leading Trojans.
Now the Ducks are on a collision course with Utah to meet in a top-10 showdown on Dec. 6 for the Pac-12 championship at Levi's Stadium.
Go ahead and book your tickets to Santa Clara, Calif.
The Utes (8-1, 5-1) also helped keep the conference’s College Football Playoff hopes alive with a 33-28 victory over Washington on Saturday in Seattle.
“We’ve just got to finish strong, that’s the most important thing,” safety Brady Breeze said. “There’s a lot of pressure on us, but we can’t focus on that.”
3. Andy Avalos’ defense bends and then breaks the opponent.
For the third consecutive week, Oregon allowed the opposing quarterback to put up big numbers — USC’s Kedon Slovis finished with 264 yards passing and three touchdowns.
But three more interceptions — one by freshman safety Verone McKinley, a pick-six by Breeze and another by junior cornerback Deommodore Lenoir — were each cashed in for touchdowns.
Breeze also recovered a fumble in the red zone that led to an Oregon score.
The Ducks lead the FBS with 17 interceptions.
“They played with a chip on their shoulder. They truly did,” Cristobal said of his secondary keeping a dynamic USC receiving corp under wraps. “Schematically, there were some really good adjustments that helped them out. But at the end of the day they studied and they came out here with the intent to play the best football they possibly could.”
4. The Wright stuff
Mykael Wright said his high school coach wouldn’t let him return kicks. So when the Oregon staff gave him an opportunity to audition for the role, he was ready to shine.
After setting up Justin Herbert with good field position for the game-winning drive against Washington State, Wright made another momentum-changing play by returning a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown with eight seconds left in the second quarter.
USC had closed its deficit to 21-17 on a touchdown grab by Michael Pittman Jr. only 12 seconds before Wright’s house call gave the visitors an 11-point lead at the intermission.
“When I got past the first line of blockers, I saw a big old crease to my left, and that’s when I knew that I was going to take it all the way,” Wright said.
Oregon is suddenly explosive on offense, defense and special teams.
5. The Civil War is shaping up to be a big one
If the Ducks are able to beat Arizona at home and Arizona State in Tempe, they will remain in position to earn a playoff spot entering the regular-season finale against Oregon State on Nov. 30 at Autzen Stadium.
The Beavers (4-4, 3-2) — who are alone in second place in the North Division — could be playing for bowl eligibility, in addition to Civil War bragging rights.
Jonathan Smith has done a remarkable job of turning things around in Corvallis after losing 10 of his first 13 games as Oregon State’s head coach. The Beavers host reeling Washington this week.
The rivalry could use some more competitiveness after Oregon won the two previous meetings by a combined score of 124-25.