USC vs. Oregon State: Trojans’ keys to victory


Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC hasn’t won a game in Reser Stadium since 2004.

Interim Coach Ed Orgeron has infused the team with energy and excitement to play the game.

It will take a balanced effort from the Trojans to snap their losing streak in Corvallis.

Here are five keys to a Trojan victory:

1. Find an offensive line

Through eight games, the play from USC’s offensive line has been a bag of mixed results.

Trojan lineman have been beaten at the point of attack on numerous occasions, and gotten flagged for backbreaking penalties.

Yet, the same line was also able to open up holes for Silas Redd to run out the clock in a victory over Arizona.

Injuries certainly haven’t helped the quest to build continuity, but at this point, there is no longer time for excuses.

The offensive line needs to consistently be able to protect Cody Kessler and open up lanes for the running backs.

2. Make Sean Mannion uncomfortable

Sean Mannion is leading the nation with an average of 420.8 passing yards per game.  Mannion has also thrown for 30 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

Outside of Oregon State’s game against Stanford last week, Mannion has certainly benefitted from facing pedestrian competition.

However, with a completion rate of 69%, Mannion appears to be in a groove.

If USC’s front seven is unable to disrupt his momentum, the Trojan secondary could be in for a long game.

3. Recapture the kicking game

Andre Heidari bounced back from a 1-for-3 performance that essentially cost USC the game in South Bend by making four of his five field goal attempts against Utah.

By contrast, punter Kris Albarado wasn’t his typical accurate-self with in the game against the Utes.

Both will be needed in the Trojans’ game against the Beavers.

If Heidari struggles to convert on his field goal attempts, it may deflate the team and add more fuel to the crowd’s fire.

Albarado has been a major weapon with his ability to pin opponents deep in their own territory.  USC’s offense has still struggled and winning field position would be a big aid.

4. Establish a rushing attack

After injuries have ravaged USC’s receiving corps, the offensive’s strength primarily lies with the running backs.

The backfield has lost Justin Davis for the season, but Javorius Allen, Ty Isaac, Tre Madden, and Silas Redd are still available.

Effectively running the ball will not only help open up the passing game, it will also help the Trojans control the tempo of the game, which is key in a hostile environment.

5. Win the turnover battle

USC enters the game with a turnover margin of plus three.  Oregon State is plus 11.

14 of the Beaver takeaways have come by interception, making Kessler’s decision-making all the more important.

Mannion has protected the ball well, but the Beavers have lost six fumbles.  It’s not an overwhelming number, but forced fumbles figure to be USC’s best bet to turn the Beavers over.

However they may come, the Trojans need to force the Beavers into turnovers while limiting their own.