USC since 2011: 35 4+ star recruits, 10 of which were 5 stars.
OSU since 2011: 4 4+ star recruits, 0 of which were 5 stars.
Head to head record since 2011: 0-1, 31-14 USC @ Reser
Those numbers don’t look good for Oregon State going 4-0 this year. With Sarkesian being a slight step up from Kiffin (though is he a step up from Orgeron?) and Wilcox being a rising star at defensive coordinator, I am not sure that Oregon State has the bullets to win. While many poo-poo star rankings from sites like BeaverBlitz, part of the Rivals Network, the reality is that they are good indicator of who is ready to play now and, lets be honest, they have roughly an 80% success rate of predicting who will go in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. That is pretty good odds.
So OSU surrenders a pretty huge talent gap, in theory, to USC. The Beavers have also only won 3 times in school history on the road at USC. That is out of 11 total wins against the Trojans in 74 tries.
But that is history and this is today. While USC has definitely out-recruited the Beavers, they have always done that. The decade prior to 2011, OSU was 4-6 against the Trojans, with a narrow loss in the Fog Bowl of 2004. Winning in LA has plagued the Beavers, but here are reasons to be hopeful:
1. USC is replacing four offensive linemen from an already sketchy group that has three players missing spring practice this year for injuries.
2. Like Oregon State with Scott Crichton, USC is going to have to replace Uko at defensive end and will be looking at a bunch of changes to their corners, safeties and linebackers with their new coaching staff.
3. They do have a new coaching staff that will be changing a lot of what they are doing down there in LA.
4. Their quarterback situation is a little sketchy, though Kessler looked really good the few times I saw him last year. It will be interesting to see what going to an up tempo type offense will do to him. In comparison, OSU’s QB situation looks amazing.
5. It is spring, and optimism is eternal. Last year Oregon State was gouged by huge cutback lanes due to issues up front on their line and linebackers getting washed into the pile. This year, OSU will hopefully have a much better defensive tackle situation as well as getting Michael Doctor back and having a very experienced group of linebackers. An extra year with Coach Bray doesn’t hurt either.
If Oregon State can stop their run, with a receiving unit that lost their leading receiver to the NFL draft (sound familiar) and two of their top prospects missing the spring due to ACL injuries (hopefully that never sounds familiar) it might be difficult for the Trojans to move the ball with a shaky offensive line anchoring their attack.
So yes, the Beavers can win in Los Angeles. They can be 4-0. but like the two other times that Oregon State has been 4-0 in the last half century, they are going to need nearly perfect efforts. In 2000, it was a great defensive and offensive effort that allowed them to shake off two suspect wins against Eastern Washington and New Mexico to finally hit their stride at home with a opossum aided 31-21 victory. In 2012 I would take either the UCLA effort or the Arizona effort to go into the home town of two of the hottest teams in the nation and take wins from them. I would probably enjoy a UCLA type effort more as it was less stressful.
Regardless, that is what OSU will need to win and I hope they do it. Riding into Colorado for a potential trap game at 4-0 would be a huge boost for the Beavers, especially if they win and return to Reser to take on Utah Bowl Eligible. I will have to see how the first 3 games for each team goes before I make any predictions I would wager on, but there is a huge hurdle facing OSU in week 4 and this time it is not just themselves.
(p.s. I never bet on my own team)