Final Thoughts On USC & OSU

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Its the last time USC and Oregon St. will meet on a regular basis, with the Pac-12 divisional scheduling in the offing, where the Trojans and the Beavers will miss each other two out of every four years, at least in the regular season, including the next two seasons.

There was a time when USC would not come to Corvallis, requiring all games up north to be played in Portland. Then, they would only come once every four years, but the Beavers would have to visit the LA Coliseum the other three years.

In more modern times, balanced scheduling has required more visits to Oregon St., and we see the reason the Trojans always wanted to avoid the trips. USC hasn't won in the state of Oregon since 2005, and has lost their last two games in Corvallis, and three this decade.

But can Oregon St. (4-5, 3-3), coming off their worst loss of the year against last place Washington St., and losers of three of their last four games, pull off another miracle against USC (7-3, 4-3)?

It will probably take another rushing game like Jacquizz Rodgers had two years ago, when the Trojans came in ranked #1. And Rodgers burst onto the national scene with 186 yards and two touchdowns, as the Beavers capped an "Orange Out" with a 27-21 upset.

USC's defense isn't invincible, giving up almost 28 points per game, 72nd. nationally, so there is valid reason to believe Oregon St. could do better than the 14 points they have posted in each of their last two losses.

Rodgers has apologized to Oregon St. fans and students for Oregon St.'s recent poor performances, as if it were his fault. In reality, fault lies anywhere but with 'Quizz, but if he can get some of his team to be as accountable as he has been, it could produce a turnaround.

The Trojans made the trip without RB Dillon Baxter, which at least theoretically weakens the USC rushing game, which has been rolling up 200 yards per game, 22nd. in the country, though it probably just means more carries for Marc Tyler and Allen Bradford. And unfortunately for Oregon St., probably more passes from Matt Barkley, who has already throws for over 2,500 yards this year.

But set the numbers aside, as this game will be about whether Oregon St. can muster up a game based on pride. Like when the Trojans last came to Corvallis. But more realistically, like the 2008 Sun Bowl, when an Oregon St. defense, playing with no offense, due to injuries to both Rodgers brothers, and coming off being torched for 65 points by Oregon, pitched a shutout in El Paso.

That's what I'll be rooting for, but what I expect is something less than that. USC, and coach Lane Kiffen, are still set on quieting critics, and but for field goals that defeated them with no time showing on the clock against Washington and Stanford, the Trojans would be 9-1, and 6-1 in the Pac-10, despite the fact that they can't go to a bowl game as anything more than spectators.

Also, the Trojans clearly recall their last few trips to the Willamette Valley, and have ample respect for Oregon St. coach MIke Riley, a one time USC assistant. The Trojans take the game seriously, and that's a bad thing for the Beavers. Prediction: USC 41 Oregon St. 24.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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