USC vs. Oregon State: 10 Things We Learned in the Trojans' Win over the Beavers
In somewhat of a surprise, the USC Trojans handled the Oregon State Beavers by a score of 31-14.
Cody Kessler led the Trojans with a strong effort, going 17-of-21 for 247 yards. A rushing attack led by Silas Redd and Buck Allen combined for over 240 yards on the ground.
OSU quarterback Sean Mannion struggled throughout the night. He didn't come close to his average of 420.8 passing yards a contest. He instead threw three interceptions and never fully got into any sort of rhythm.
Here are 10 things we've learned from the Trojans' victory over the Beavers in Corvallis.
Run Game Dominated All Night
USC set the tone with its rush attack.
Both Silas Redd and Javorius "Buck" Allen ran with authority. Redd led the team with 22 carries for 140 yards. Allen rushed for 133 yards on 16 carries, to go along with three touchdowns.
By running the ball so effectively, the Trojans kept OSU's prolific pass attack off of the field. It controlled the clock and truly wore down the Beavers up front. With a strong rush attack, OSU was forced to stack the box.
As a result, it opened up the passing game for Kessler. He was able to connect on two deep throws that came off of play action.
Oregon State Tried to Be Oregon...and Failed
Oregon State tried to be like its rival to the south...and failed miserably.
Those bright orange uniforms were utterly hideous. Even the cheerleader shown above was offended by the presence of the highlighter-like outfits.
Based on OSU's play early, I thought that the local prison may have been allowed to play USC early as part of a work release program.
I appreciate the effort in trying to look modern and unique with one's ensemble.
However, leave that to the University of Oregon.
Sean Mannion Looked Like Sean Mannion from Last Year
In Sean Mannion's first two years as OSU's signal-caller, he combined to throw for 31 touchdowns and 31 interceptions.
While blessed with a strong arm, he was also victimized with the idea that he could fit a ball into the tightest of windows. His decision-making was subpar, and it forced Mike Riley to go with Cody Vaz at times.
In 2013, he came into Friday night's game with 30 touchdowns and three interceptions. He essentially took the next step in maturing as a quarterback. He's been sensible with this throws and quite accurate.
He looked like the Sean Mannion of yesteryear Friday night. Whether it be due to USC's pressure up front or the lack of protection by his offensive line, Mannion was very poor from a decision-making standpoint.
He forced throws, overthrew receivers and locked onto targets. He threw three interceptions on the night, and it realistically could have been close to seven.
It was a step backward and a poor night for the signal-caller.
OSU Failed to Convert on Any Chances
Oregon State shot itself in its proverbial foot Friday night.
The Beavers turned the ball over three times in the red zone. Mannion made a few ill-advised throws, resulting in untimely turnovers.
Kicker Trevor Romaine had his first field goal attempted blocked in the first quarter, and then missed a 26-yard chip shot from the right hash.
Lastly, the Beavers went 2-of-11 on third-down attempts. OSU didn't convert on third down until the 4:45-minute mark of the third quarter.
The Beavers really did not have a chance to win with the developments highlighted above.
USC Dominated the Line of Scrimmage
This can't be overstated enough: USC dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.
USC ran for 242 yards on 44 carries. Allen and Redd ran through holes the sizes of miniature craters. The Trojans were toying with the Beavers defensive line, literally throwing it around like ragdolls.
Defensively, the front seven was instrumental in forcing Mannion into throwing three interceptions. OSU's signal-caller was pressured all night long. He never was comfortable, and thus couldn't get into any semblance of a rhythm offensively.
USC's Defense Showed Up Friday Night
One has to give USC's defense some credit.
Oregon State came into this came averaging over 420 passing yards per contest. Sean Mannion had thrown for 30 touchdowns and only three interceptions on the season. Brandin Cooks led all of college football in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns.
Friday night, the Trojans held Mannion to only 277 yards passing. Cooks was held to six catches for 88 yards. The majority of those yards were empty from the sense that the game was firmly in USC's grasp.
The front seven dominated up front. The constant pressure on Mannion forced poor throws and resulted in three interceptions.
In general, the defense played with tons of enthusiasm and effort. The players were flying around and effectively shut down one of the nation's hottest offenses on the road.
Marqise Lee Makes a Huge Difference
The mere presence of Marqise Lee on the field opens up a lot of things for USC's offense.
For one, he generates a ton of attention. Teams have to blanket him in coverage and often overcompensates to prevent for Lee's ability in space. In essence, that opens up the field for the rest of the Trojans' skill players.
Aside from that, he's an electric player. He had five catches on the night for 105 yards and a touchdown. On the first offensive play Friday night, he blew by OSU's secondary and scored on a 71-yard bomb by Cody Kessler.
He doesn't appear to be fully healthy. Regardless, he makes USC's offense a whole lot better. Even at less than full strength, he's better than the majority of wide receivers in college football.
Cody Kessler Is Steadily Getting Better
Cody Kessler has made big strides as a quarterback.
After the first couple of games of the season, did anyone believe that Kessler would have the ability to lead the Trojans to victory on the road in Corvallis?
Kessler was in full command of the offense Friday night. He went 17-of-21 for 247 yards and a touchdown. His touch on the deep ball was very impressive. It was as if Kessler literally dropped the ball right into the hands of Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor for huge plays on fly patterns.
His improvement is something to mention. If USC can continue to run the ball with effectiveness, Kessler's confidence will continue to grow. He'll also get more opportunities to exploit the defense down the field with a burgeoning rush attack.
Oregon State Was Hungover from the Stanford Loss
Oregon State didn't come to play Friday night.
After going down 14-0 in the first quarter, it was apparent that the Beavers were spent from last week's loss to Stanford.
There were opportunities for the Beavers to win last week in a marquee Pac-12 North matchup at home. Stanford neutralized Oregon State's vaunted pass attack and laid into the Beavers with its immense physicality.
On a short week of preparation, there was a lack of energy in the first half. The offense was never fully in sync. Mannion looked rattled for the better part of the night, and the rush attack was rendered useless. Defensively, the team tackled very poorly.
It was just a very uninspiring effort all around for the Beavers.
Ed Orgeron Has This Team Playing with a Purpose
A huge amount of credit is deserved to Ed Orgeron.
The interim coach has visibly lightened the mood around the program, and it's paying off. USC is playing loose, without the pressure or uncertainty of knowing what's to come with its head coach. Players are playing hard, Orgeron has brought passion and the team is improving.
This was easily USC's most complete game of the season against a quality opponent. It was also the first time that USC had beaten the Beavers in Corvallis since 2004.
No one knows what Pat Haden is thinking at this point. If Orgeron continues to win, and if the Trojans make it to the Pac-12 Championship Game, does Orgeron get elevated from an interim to a permanent standing as head coach?