5. The Rodgers' Brothers
The true freshman Jacquizz started this season as the backup to the "2nd-coming-of-Steven-Jackson" Ryan McCants. In the first 3 games, he has established himself as the true starter, rushing for 263 yards and 4 TDs (including 99 against PSU and 110 against Hawai'i). According to ESPN.com, he is on pace to break 1000 yards and 16 TDs this year. We knew he'd be good in the open field, but what has been most impressive is his running between the tackles. If he can get going against SC and we can control the clock, this will put us in good position to win (something that THE Ohio State University didn't do, with a lot of 3 and outs). His older brother James has had another good year so far, catching 13 balls for 159 yards and 1 TD, while rushing for 63 yards on only 10 of his patented fly sweeps. But more importantly, he averages 24 yards per kick return, but is always a threat to break one open for 40 or more, putting us in good field position, which is going to matter against the vaunted SC defense.
4. Reser Stadium, Thursday Night, Orange Out, ESPN
This will be the first week that all the students are in Corvallis. The freshmen will be getting their feet wet with the first real college experience, and the rest of campus will be more than happy to assist them in the "ways" of an Oregon State game day. You may say "what about Oregon State's track record on Thursday night games?" I would say, those have all been on the ROAD, which is night and day for our Beavs. The last time we played USC at home, we all know how loud Reser was. Expect a packed stadium, and the fans to be pumped. If OSU can keep it close, look for Reser to be a factor.
3. Lyle "May-I-Buy-A-Vowel", Shane Morales, and Sammie Stroughter
Oregon State has turned into a regular ol' pass happy team this year. Lyle has passed for over 900 yards and 6 TDs through the first 3 games and has looked like the leader that we so desperately lacked last year at quarterback. Shane Morales has turned into the next coming of Mike Hass, catching nearly everything thrown in his direction. He has caught 22 balls for 284 yards and 2 TDs this year, and has done well playing opposite of Stroughter. Stroughter, while being yet a solid receiver yet again (21 receptions, 255 yards, 3 TDs) he is averaging 12 yards a punt return, and is poised to break one open (why not against SC, again?).
2. Mike Riley
He is becoming the greatest coach in Oregon State history, amassing 40 wins in his second tenure at OSU (5 years), including 4 straight bowl wins. He has finished third in the Pac 10 in 3 of the last 4 years, and has won 19 games the last 2 years. Also, since his second term at Oregon State, he is 7-0 when having more than a week to prepare for a team (this does NOT include season openers, but does include bowl games). But most importantly, he has 100% winning percentage against USC at home in the last 2 years.
(Ok, a poor attempt at humor. But wait until you see #1).
1. Nobody has dominated USC quite like the Beavs this decade
OK, so maybe dominated is the wrong word. But we have beaten USC twice since 2000, something only Oregon can claim they have as well. Not only that, in 2004 (USC's NC year), we only barely lost to SC in the "Fog Bowl." Even last year, our defense held them to 24 points in LA, but just couldn't get anything going offensively. Nobody can ever really know why we've had SC's number more than others in recent years, but I think all OSU fans will accept it.
Do I really think Oregon State is going to beat USC next week? No. Do I think anybody is going to beat USC this year? No. But I have seen crazier (Stanford last year), and USC has choked the last couple of years against Pac 10 competition, so why not us? Go Beavs!