The USC Trojans gave the Oregon State Beavers a bit of their own medicine on Friday night, using an explosive offensive attack to roll to a 31-14 win at Reser Stadium.
Cody Kessler threw for 247 yards, Silas Redd and Javorius Allen combined for 273 yards on the ground and the Trojans forced the usually stellar Sean Mannion into three interceptions to earn their first win in Corvallis since 2004:
The Trojans (6-3, 3-2 Pac 12) finished with 489 total yards, while the Beavers (6-3, 4-2), who entered the game averaging 481.7 yards per contest, tallied just 369 and held the ball for just under 24 minutes.
It didn't take long for the fireworks to start in this one. USC broke through and blocked a Trevor Romaine 46-yard field-goal attempt on Oregon State's first drive, and on the very next play from scrimmage, Kessler found a wide-open Marqise Lee for a 71-yard touchdown:
Later in the first quarter, Allen capped off a methodical 72-yard drive with a nine-yard touchdown run, pushing the Trojans to an early 14-0 lead.
The Beavers wouldn't fold in front of their home crowd, though.
On Oregon State's second drive of the second quarter, it took Mannion two throws to lead the Beavers 45 yards, the second being a 27-yard touchdown completion to the leading receiver in the country, Brandin Cooks.
Kessler tossed a pick on the very next play from scrimmage to Ryan Murphy, who returned the interception 41 yards to tie the game:
The Trojans responded with a heavy dose of Redd on the ground before Allen burst through the defense for an 18-yard touchdown, his second of the game.
After a couple of field goals, Allen would find the end zone one more time, this instance on a dazzling 52-yard run:
That score put the Trojans ahead, 31-14, in the third quarter, and the defense would do the rest, forcing Mannion into a couple of interceptions and holding the Beavers scoreless in the second half.
It was a convincing road win for the Trojans, who are beginning to look like a completely different team with Ed Orgeron at the helm.
Cody Kessler, USC: A-
Having no one within about 15 yards of Lee for a 71-yard score on the first play from scrimmage certainly helps, but Kessler was solid on Friday night.
Even if you take out that long completion, he was still accurate and decisive and averaged over 10 yards per attempt. His pick-six was a bad throw, and he barely misfired on another long attempt, but other than that, it's hard to find much wrong with Kessler's performance.
Sean Mannion, Oregon State: C
It was a rough night for the Heisman hopeful.
USC's front seven got lots of pressure on Mannion early in the game, and that began to take its toll, as he was inaccurate on several throws, hurried some others and threw a late interception in the red zone that killed any chances of a potential comeback.
He finished just 26-of-45 for 277 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in what was his worst game of the season.
Marqise Lee, USC: A
I'll go with Lee here because I can't decide which running back was better for the Trojans.
Of course, that doesn't mean the dynamic wide receiver doesn't deserve mention. Finally healthy after being injured for much of the season, Lee finally resembled his 2012 self, pulling in five catches for 105 yards and the long score. He could have had even more, but a long, diving catch was overturned after the ball scraped the ground.
Lee beat the Beavers with speed, and he beat them with elusiveness in space. In addition to all the yards through he air, he helped open up the defense, allowing the Trojans to create cavernous holes in the run game.
Brandin Cooks, Oregon State: A-
Even when Mannion was far from himself, Cooks found a way to contribute.
He pulled in six catches for 88 yards (he was also overthrown on a deep route) and a score, plus added 40 yards on two carries and looked like his normally explosive self.
Cooks is still right in the thick of the Biletnikoff Award race.
The Trojans, winners of three of four, head to Berkeley before hosting No. 5 Stanford in an intriguing matchup.
Oregon State, meanwhile, will try to right the ship at Arizona State in 15 days.
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