No. 20 USC Trojans (7-3, 4-3) at Oregon State Beavers (4-5, 3-3)
2009 Result: Oregon State 36 – USC 42
Head Coach: Mike Riley (Year 10: 68-52)
Stars: RB Jacquizz Rodgers, DT Stephen Paea
Location: Corvallis, Oregon (Reser Stadium)
Time: 5:00 PM PDT
TV: ABC, ESPN3.com
Radio: KXSC (listen at kscr.org), 710AM
Spread: Oregon State (+3)
Matchup: USC travels up to Corvallis to take on Oregon State after pragmatically running the football down Arizona’s throat. The Trojans recorded their most impressive victory after upsetting the then-No.18 team in the country on the road. Riding a two game winning streak, USC looks to close out the season 10-3 and call Lane Kiffin’s first year a major success given the circumstances.
Meanwhile, Oregon State is in a free fall. The Beavers have lost three of their last four and have a two game losing streak of their own. This past weekend, they were embarrassed at home by Washington State, who hadn’t won a conference game since November 2008. Saturday’s contest presents a must-win for the Beavers, who are vying for a bowl bid. With USC, No. 6 Stanford, and No. 1 Oregon left on the schedule, Oregon State must win two of its final three to secure a bid.
Saturday’s forecast calls for temperatures in the low 40’s with a high chance of rain or maybe even snow. Despite the conditions, Lane Kiffin said earlier in the week he believes his team is built for the cold weather. In essence, Kiffin has faith in his offensive line to create a power running game.
Offensively, the Trojans will likely look to run the ball heavily given the success last week and the weather forecast. Oregon State ranks 80th nationally stopping the run, allowing 169 yards per game. Ever since Lane Kiffin called the offensive line out for its uninspiring play against Oregon, they have stepped up beautifully and provided holes as well as protection for Matt Barkley. Marc Tyler will start at running back and likely get a lot of carries, although not as many as the 31 last week. Through the air, the Beavers rank 94th stopping the pass, allowing 239 yards per game. While USC might not throw a lot if its snowing, Kiffin won’t shy away from deep balls given the suspect secondary and the fact that Robert Woods continues to get healthier. Last year, USC didn’t have any problems moving the ball on Oregon State, and the unit has only gotten better. Even if the defense can’t stop Jacquizz Rodgers, USC should be able to match the Beavers score for score.
USC’s defensive game plan will likely center around stacking the box and forcing the Beavers to win the game through the air. Ever since the injury to star wide receiver James Rodgers, Oregon State’s offense has dropped off considerably. At the same time, sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz has regressed, throwing five touchdown passes to four interceptions in his last four games. The first year starter has completed passes at a decent percentage, but his confidence may be in the dumps after Mike Riley benched him for a series against Washington State to punish him for throwing an interception. While the passing game is shaky, the running game is phenomenal. Jacquizz Rodgers is a swift, shifty back that has always given USC trouble. Since he is so small, he is very hard to tackle and can run wild if the Trojans fail to rap up. ‘Quizz is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and has 13 touchdowns on the ground. Without James Rodgers, Oregon State’s offense is virtually one dimensional, but they have to be careful because that dimension can very well burn them.
Stat of the week: USC hasn’t won in the state of Oregon since 2005.
Final Score Prediction: USC 42 – Oregon State 24. The Trojans have had trouble in Oregon recently, and that makes Saturday’s trap game even scarier.