Who: Oregon State (3-0) at No. 18 USC (2-1)
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27
Where: Los Angeles Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
Series Record: 60-11-4 USC. Last season, the Trojans earned their first win at Reser Stadium since 2004, routing the Beavers, 31-14. Javorius Allen led the way for USC, rushing for 133 yards and 3 touchdowns. Brandin Cooks caught 6 passes for 88 yards and a TD to lead OSU.
Notes: USC is coming off a bye week. The Trojans were upset, 37-31, by Boston College in their last game on Sept. 13. OSU hasn’t won at the Coliseum since 1960, a span of 22 straight victories for the Trojans. Three former OSU players are on USC’s coaching staff: Keith Heyward (defensive backs), Kyle DeVan (offensive assistant), and Patrick Henderson (defensive assistant). Mike Riley served as offensive coordinator and later assistant head coach at USC from 1993-97, before taking the OSU job for the first time.
5 Keys to Victory
Don’t fall behind early: On the road at a place they haven’t won in more than 50 years, the Beavers need to make sure they don’t stumble out of the gate and find themselves in a hole right away. They will need to play a complete game on both sides of the ball, and limit silly penalties and take care of the football. Otherwise, it could be a rout like last year.
Stuff the run: USC ran wild all game long last year against OSU. In addition to Allen’s monster performance, Silas Redd added 140 rushing yards of his own. This time around, the Beavers need to make sure they don’t let the Trojans’ running game get going early on. (At least, Redd is gone.) If they can do that, and force quarterback Cody Kessler to do more, it bodes well…
Pressure Kessler: The junior quarterback isn’t especially mobile, which should be welcome news to fans who are tired of seeing QBs use their legs to hurt the Beavers. If the OSU defense can collapse the pocket and force Kessler out of his comfort zone, there could be some turnover opportunities.
Open the playbook: For the most part during their first three games, the Beavers kept things pretty simple offensively. Well, Pac-12 play is here, so it’s time to open the playbook a little and keep the Trojans on their toes. Plus, with Victor Bolden out due to injury, the offense is going to need other players to step up. I’ll go ahead and call a halfback toss from Terron Ward to Hunter Jarmon for a big gain
Get TEs involved: OSU has arguably two of the top tight ends in the conference. It needs to take advantage of Connor Hamlett’s and Caleb Smith’s size and athleticism. Getting the ball to them, even if it’s just quick dump-off or screen passes over the middle could open things up not just for the running game, but for the wide receivers on the outside.
Game prediction: 31-27 OSU.
What are your keys for a Beavers’ win?