The 1-4 Beaver football team need a pick-me-up in order to get their season going in the right direction. Unfortunately, they’re unlikely to get that this week as they head to Los Angeles to face the #14 team in the nation in the USC Trojans. In order to provide some further insight on OSU’s latest opponent, we tossed some questions in the direction of ConquestChronicles.com : SB Nation’s USC community. CC writers Brendan Kearney and Matthew Lowry provided some answers for us.
1. While the Trojans are putting together another impressive year, they were upset by a tough Washington State team last week. What went wrong in that one?
Brendan: Injuries upfront on the offensive line hurt the Trojans big time last week. Three starters missing time really disrupted the run game, and Darnold struggled to find his rhythm all night. It didn’t help that the playcalling was a little conservative and at times head scratching. Defensively the Trojans front 7 played well, but the secondary got beat to many times throughout the night. Some passing numbers were to be expected because WSU relied heavily on their passing game, but it just looked too easy for Luke Falk and company. The Trojans battled hard but just fell short in a hostile road environment against a talented team.
2. Some think Sam Darnold is a Heisman favorite, others are less convinced. Where do you fall on that spectrum?
Matthew: I’ve been kinda skeptical on the Darnold Heisman Talk since the beginning of the season. Don’t get me wrong Darnold is a really good quarterback, however he tends to do a little too much with his throws which has led to interceptions. This season so far he has throw 7 picks in 5 games. Not to mention the offense has gone away from his strengths which is the Run Pass Option and the quick game.
3. What's your assessment of USC's defense this season?
Brendan: The Trojan defense has been vital to the teams success this season. While they aren’t perfect or dominant, they have kept this USC team in multiple games this year. Linebackers Uchenna Nwosu and Cameron Smith are legit, expect to hear their names early and often this weekend. The pass rush is impressive, and so far this season they have been racking up sacks. The secondary is vulnerable at times, but safety Chris Hawkins is a baller and the whole secondary is full of playmakers who can strike at any moment.
4. Do you think USC wins the PAC-12 this year? Why or why not?
Matthew: Yes I still believe USC can win the PAC-12. The schedule is indeed favorable for the Trojans, however they have a few things to patch up for that to happen. First things first, USC MUST get healthy. USC still has to play Utah, Colorado (on the road), and UCLA to win the south. If SC can get healthy then that possibility is very real. Next they offense will have to get in sync. From play calling to the offensive line, to Sam Darnold himself. The offense can’t keep relying on the defense to bail them out of games. If they can win the south then they’ll be a pretty good favorite to win the PAC-12.
5. If Oregon State wants to have a shot at winning this game, what aspect of USC do they need to focus on the most?
Brendan: I would say attack this Trojan offensive line. Send multiple blitz packages and really force them to pass protect well. Even if they don’t account for sacks it will get Darnold moving, and when he feels pressure he’s been prone to force throws. If they send pressure and load the box to stop Ronald Jones II it can force the Trojan offense to stall. If they can keep this Trojan offense off the field for majority of the game the USC defense will start to tire and OSU can attack them late in the second half.
6. Outcome and final score predictions for this one?
Matthew: This will be a bounce back game for USC, however this shouldn’t be a game to dismiss. I’m interested to see what changes in the offense. I think we’ll see a heavy dose of Ronald Jones II. I’m going to go with a 45-17 Trojans win.