I don’t like it when the USC Trojans have to travel to Corvallis to play Oregon State. It always seems like a game ‘SC should win, but it’s always a trap. Fortunately, thanks to Pac-10 expansion, after this season, the Trojans don’t play the Beavers until 2013.
The bad news? USC has to play them in Corvallis this weekend.
Last time the Trojans made the trek to Reser Stadium, they were the top-ranked team in the nation with a flashy quarterback in Mark Sanchez and a fast track to the BCS Championship game.
No worries against Oregon State, right?
I might’ve been the only one, but I was worried. After all, it was a similar scenario in 2006, when #3 USC played in Corvallis and lost, 33-31.
This time would be different, right? USC was the top team in the nation, they’d just gotten a big win against Ohio State, and of course, they’d be on their guard and wouldn’t let the Beavers knock them off again. I was a little worried, but USC should’ve been fine.
They weren’t, mostly thanks to the undersized brothers running the ball for the Beavs: James and Jacquizz Rodgers. Both of them, but especially then true freshman Jacquizz, ran over the Trojans like they were nothing more than a piece of track.
USC fell out of the #1 spot and hasn’t seen the top of the polls since. The Trojans beat the Beavers handily in the Coliseum last year, but this is their first trip back to Corvallis and as usual, they’ll have their work cut out for them.
James Rodgers is out the remainder of this season with a knee injury but little brother Jacquizz is still a big threat, figuratively speaking. At 5′ 6″ he might be easy for the defensive guys to look over, but he’s the one guy they can’t afford to overlook.
As linebacker Chris Galippo told the media, ““If we can shut down the run game and force them to beat us passing, as cliché as it sounds, it’s what works.” I don’t know about cliche, but it’s certainly counterintuitive from a statistics perspective, as USC is ranked 44th nationally in run defense but just 116th – out of 120 – in passing defense.
Then again, statistics have a tendency to go out the window when the Trojans play in Corvallis.
The defense’s goal might be to stop #1, but the offense aims to come out swinging. Oregon State scored first in the teams’ last meeting at Reser, and USC quarterback Matt Barkley says that can’t happen again.
USC is ranked 3rd in the Pac-10 and 19th nationally in scoring, averaging 35.2 points per game. Even with the Rodgers brothers on the roster, Oregon State is only 65th in scoring, and the Beavs’ stats don’t measure up to USC’s. The Trojans are averaging 5.4 yards per attempt and 200 yards per game, while the Beavers are only earning 3.8 yards per carry and 122.6 yards per game.
Over the last two meetings with USC, Quizz Rodgers rushed for 299 yards. He’s averaging just under 100 yards per game on the ground this season, but it should be tougher for him to produce against the Trojans tonight since he’ll have to shoulder most of the workload. If USC can stop Jacquizz, they can probably stop the Oregon State run. It’s a big “if” that’s proven harder than it sounds the last two years, but it would force the Beavers to go to the pass.
OSU quarterback Ryan Katz has been inconsistent behind a spotty offensive line, so USC’s struggling defense needs to force him to step up and make plays. If USC can control the OSU run game, they’ll gain a huge advantage. The Trojans have two powerful running backs in starter Marc Tyler and backup (and sometimes starter) Allen Bradford, and both of them have shown that they can carry the offense. Not that they need to. USC quarterback Matt Barkley leads the Pac-10 with 25 passing touchdowns and is second in the conference with 2,518 yards in the air.
Through the air or on the ground, USC’s offense almost always finds a way to produce. Tonight, the pressure will be on the USC defense to keep Oregon State from figuring out how to do the same thing.