Oregon State kicks off Pac-12 play Saturday with a blockbuster, as the Beavers play host to No. 7 USC in a battle of unbeatens at 6:30 pm in Reser Stadium.
The Beavers, playing USC for perhaps the last time at home, look to beat a top-10 Trojans team for the third time since 2006.
Here is a preview:
No. 7 USC at Oregon State
Time: 6:30 pm Saturday
Where: Reser Stadium
Tickets: Sold out, but you can still buy tickets now from VividSeats, StubHubor the Ticketmaster website.
Coaches: OSU’s Jonathan Smith (fifth year, 19-28), USC’s Lincoln Riley (first year, 3-0; overall, sixth season, 58-10)
Latest line: Trojans by 6
TV channel: Pac-12 Network (Xfinity Comcast 420/421/720, Dish 406, Charter Spectrum 332/452)
How to watch live stream online: You can watch this game live for FREE with fuboTV (free trial) or with Sling TV (promotional offers) if you are out of fuboTV trials, or simply prefer that platform and their pricing plans. You can also watch this match live on Pac-12 Live with your cable or satellite provider login information.
More ways to watch: Verizon Fios, AT&T U-verse, Comcast/Xfinity, Spectrum/Charter, Optimum/Altice, Cox, DIRECTV, Dish.
On the air: Radio on KEX (1190), KPOJ (620), Sirius 137, Sirius XM 203, Sirius XM App 966
Oregon State offense vs. USC defense
If Oregon State can avoid turnovers, it should have plenty of success against USC. Nationally, the Trojans rank No. 103rd in run defense, 84th in total defense, 56th in pass defense and 46th in scoring defense. But – and this is a big but – USC is No. 1 nationally in turnover margin, at plus-3.33 per game. The Trojans make plays in the backfield, with 26 tackles for loss and 14 sacks through three games. Solomon Byrd (4 TFLs, 3 sacks) and Tuli Tuipolotu (6 TFLs, 3 sacks) lead the way. Seven different Torjans have interceptions. USC’s top tackler is Eric Gentry, who has 22, including 10 against Stanford.
Oregon State’s offensive approach is very much taking what the defense gives. But the Beavers favor trying to run the ball early and often, led by running backs Deshaun Fenwick (204 yards, 3 TDs) and Damien Martinez (108 yards, 1 TD). And don’t forget Jack Colletto, who has run six times for 50 yards and three touchdowns. Chance Nolan has shown improvement at quarterback, and probably had his best game in 2021 in OSU’s 45-27 win over USC a year ago. Nolan has thrown for 746 yards and seven touchdowns. Tre’Shaun Harrison (16 catches, 219 yards, 2 TDs) and Anthony Gould (8-188, 1 TD) have separated themselves as OSU’s receiving leaders. Oregon State will be without standout tight end Luke Musgrave.
Oregon State defense vs. USC offense
The next two weeks are going to tell us everything we need to know about Oregon State’s defense, as it is USC this week, and Utah next Saturday. First, the Trojans, who lead the Pac-12 in scoring offense. They’re led by sophomore quarterback Caleb Williams, who has passed for 874 yards and eight touchdowns, and has yet to throw an interception. His worst game – 25 of 37 for 284 yards and two touchdowns vs. Fresno State – would be a headliner for many. The Trojans’ running back duo of Travis Dye and Austin Jones have a combined three 100-yard games this season. USC has two of the country’s top receivers in Jordan Addison and Mario Williams. Addison, the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner, caught seven passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns against Stanford.
Oregon State counters with a defense that has been spectacular at times, but inconsistent overall. The Beavers had a great first half against Boise State and Montana State (minus the opening drive against the Bobcats), then had some trouble with the Broncos running quarterback during the second half. In its game against Fresno State, the Beavers played the popular bend-but-don’t-break. Overall, they’ve been a little above average, which won’t be good enough against USC. The Beavers will need four quarters of the Boise State first half to contest the Trojans’ firepower. OSU’s secondary has supreme confidence, as they have accounted for six interceptions. The key will be whether the Beavers put enough pressure on Williams to force him into early throws. OSU has only three sacks, but if Williams is often rushed, that’s almost as good.
Matchup of notes
The four primary units all have some strength. If we were to rank them, it’s perhaps USC’s offense No. 1, Oregon State’s offense and defense 2 and 2A, and USC’s defense 4. Maybe it’s not a wash, but pretty close to even. The difference maker Saturday night? Watch for turnovers. Both teams are good at creating takeaways. USC and OSU are 1-2 in the conference. The Trojans have lived on takeaways. Oregon State had five against Boise State, three against Montana State. The team that wins the turnover battle is likely to win the game.
- The Pac-12 Network will host its Road Show at Saturday’s game.
- Oregon State is holding a watch party for fans who were unable to buy tickets at Beaver Block Party, outside Gill Coliseum. The school is providing a large screen and extra speakers.
- The Beavers have won three of the past five games against USC at home.
- Oregon State has won eight consecutive home games. The last time the Beavers won nine straight was the 1999-2000 season.
- Current Beaver receiver Tyjon Lindsey caught five passes for 102 yards in the 2021 win over USC in Los Angeles.
- Oregon State has 46 Californians on its roster. USC has one Oregonian, Westview High’s Brandon Pili.
- There are OSU-USC high school connections. USC receiver Ty Chamblin and Oregon State OLB Mathias Malaki-Donaldson were teammates at Oaks Christian, while USC OL Brett Neilon and Beavers’ OLB John McCartan played together at Santa Margarita.
Oregon State 31, USC 27
–Nick Daschel | email@example.com | @nickdaschel