Oregon State-USC: Can Beavers Repeat 2006 and Upset No. 1 Trojans?

Travis RiceCorrespondent ISeptember 24, 2008

Virginia 52-7, Ohio State 35-3.  Two scores so lopsided they warrant great concern for Beaver Nation this coming Thursday.

In only their third game of the season, USC hits the road for the second time.  Oregon State (1-2, 0-1) has been home for three weeks now after their first win over Hawaii and a BYE week.

The Beavers should be rested and ready to go against the Trojans come the 6 pm kickoff on ESPN.

Unfortunately for OSU, USC had a BYE week as well, so there should be no added advantage for the Beavs in that respect.

The last time the Trojans traveled to Corvallis they carried a No. 3 ranking and fell at the hands of the Beavers, 33-31.

"Batted down! Batted down!" was the Mike Parker call that will be replayed on OSU highlight films for years to come.

In 2006 when OSU faced USC, they had four conference games under their belt, two of which they had won consecutively entering the Dad's Weekend matchup vs. the Men of Troy.

This year OSU has started slow as usual and is still searching for their defensive identity—a big problem when talking about USC's run game and overall offensive production.

USC Offense

Mark Sanchez has quieted all critics who said he wouldn't continue the trend of success at the QB position for USC. This is, of course, only two games into the season.

Team that with his return from a dislocated kneecap in the preseason, and Sanchez has cleared two major hurdles in his claim for greatness.

The Trojan "Horse" has completed 68 percent of his passes for 510 yards and seven TDs to only two picks.  Not jaw-dropping statistics from a numbers standpoint, but the junior's 166.57 passer rating shows what's most important—consistency.

Running backs Joe McKnight and C.J. Gable compliment each other perfectly.  McKnight provides the elusive running style, while Gable is more of an inside pounder. 

While very different, both produce and have the ability to break the long one.  Between the two, they average 8.1 yards per carry.

With the stable (yes, pun intended) of running backs USC always fields, the passing game is often underappreciated.  USC has passed nearly 59 percent of the time this season and relies on their talented group outside.

Turner and Williams have only combined for 145 yards and three TDs. However, their YPC are at 17.5 and 14 respectively.  When USC needs a first down on third and long, it's pretty obvious who they're going to call upon.

The disparity between offensive numbers and final scores leads one to believe they are 1) winning the turnover battle and 2) playing great special teams and defense, creating a short field.

The ability to move the chains and sustain drives is what makes USC click and drives their opponents crazy.  The Trojans have scoring drives of 63, 65, 74, 80, 82, and 85 yards.  Three and outs are few and far between for the Trojan offense.

USC Defense

Truly the lifeblood of this 2008 USC squad.  The Trojans have outscored their opponents an average of 43.5 to five!  Astounding considering they traveled to Virginia and hosted then-No. 5 Ohio State.

It's a never-ending cycle on defense.  Maualuga and Cushing are probably the most notable defenders.  Maualuga is known not only for his aggressive play at the linebacker position, but also for his fashion sense—or lack thereof (see "thong" pictures).

Eye Opening Defensive Statistics

Scoring: USC has held opponents to 10 points while scoring 87.

Yards per Rush: USC has given up only 1.9 yards per rush.

Shutdown D: USC has given up ZERO points after the first quarter.

Pass Rush: USC has racked up seven sacks while giving up only one.

Three and Out: Opponents are only 29 percent (8/27) on third downs this season.

If you can find any fault for this USC Trojan team, it could be discipline.  Hard to argue when defensive statics say otherwise, but the penalties have been a problem in the first two weeks. 

USC is averaging 73 yards per game in penalties.  Given the right situation, this could bite them in Pac-10 play.

OSU Game Plan

This game will ride on momentum. The student line for tickets was about 1,500 deep as early as last Sunday night.  ESPN will be on campus and providing a new look for OSU fans.  

The "Sky Cam" will be present, creating excitement amongst what will be an "Orange Out."  The OSU media has been pushing for OSU fans to wear all orange for the past month.

If OSU can come out and start strong, the crowd will be loud and involved.  If USC scores on their first drive, it could be awfully hard for OSU to regain momentum and continue the belief for an upset bid.

Offensively USC should mix it up but rely on their talented backs.  Coach Carroll respects Mike Riley, so I don't believe he will assume he can simply run all day and beat the Beavers, despite what they've shown in weeks one and two.

I feel like I've said it 100 times, but the secondary needs to come up with timely interceptions that will shift momentum.  Versus Hawaii, the three interceptions gave OSU a short field and easy scoring opportunities.

USC remembers what happened in '06 and will be careful not to turn the ball over.  USC will make OSU beat them, rather than turn the ball over and hand over easy points.

Oregon State needs to go into the USC game with the same offensive attack they showed against Hawaii: balanced, aggressive, and smart.

Jacquizz Rodgers will have his eyes opened this Thursday and will need to shake the nerves off and run hard like he has been.  For Rodgers, Penn State could prove to be integral in preparing for USC's similarly strong defense.

The success of Rodgers will rely on the ability of the offensive line to stay disciplined and continue their blocks.  Often times the threat of another oncoming defender causes an O-lineman to disengage and slide to the next level. 

As you can imagine, the USC defense will fly to the football and have at least two bodies around the ball carrier at all times.

For OSU, three and four-yard gains on the ground will be a success and allow them for a manageable third and short, where their play action game thrives.


Clearly Vegas.com's 26-point spread speaks for itself.  The Beavers have a monumental task ahead of them.  With execution, discipline, and a little luck, OSU can play with the Trojans.

If OSU reverts back to their second week rush defense, USC will control the ball all game and never let OSU in the game.

Offensively OSU needs to spread the field, take their shots deep, and stick with the run game.

While I'd like to think 2006 could be an indication of things to come, I believe this USC team is better than the '06 team, and OSU has yet to mold into the quality team they had in '06.

Realistically OSU will have to play a near perfect game and be granted a few turnovers in order to move to 1-1 in Pac-10 play.

OSU rides the crowd for the first quarter or so, but then USC will continue on their path to the National Championship.

USC 38, OSU 24


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