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Oregon State Football Opponent Preview: USC Trojans

How will the Trojans bounce back after a disappointing first half of the season?

Colorado v USC Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

USC Trojans

  • 2017-18 Record: 11-3 (8-1 PAC 12)
  • Current Record: 4-4 (3-3 PAC 12)
  • Previous Game Result: Loss vs. ASU (35-38)
  • Head Coach: Clay Helton?
  • Total Offense Ranking: 102nd in FBS (364.1 YPG)
  • Total Defense Ranking: 71st in FBS (395.1 YPG)

Tale Of The Tape

The Streak is OVER! Last week, the Oregon State Beavers ended the nation’s longest road losing streak at 22 games with a 41-34 comeback OT win over Colorado. However, while Beaver Nation celebrated, USC fans tried desperately to forget what they were seeing. The Trojans had just lost their second straight game to fall to 4-4 on the season, losing to Herm Edwards and Arizona State at home. If I needed to put money on which Pac-12 coach was guaranteed to be fired at the end of the season, I would say Clay Helton. That question mark about whether or not Clay Helton was still the head coach at USC wasn’t a mistake. The Trojans have gone from preseason Pac-12 favorites to a team that is currently treading water. For a team loaded with 4 and 5-star talent every year, treading water is not an acceptable position.

With the Beavers currently on Cloud Nine and the Trojans somewhere in Death Valley, this has all the makings of a massive upset. USC is currently 1-3 on the road, just fired their offensive line coach Neil Callaway (who was also their primary play-caller), and is going to be playing late at night in a venue where they have not played well since the turn of the century. USC is favored, as they probably should be, but OSU doesn’t look like the pushover they had initially appeared as one week ago.

Player To Watch

JT Daniels (Quarterback, Fr.)

USC v Arizona Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

The freshman QB out of Irvine, CA was touted as the next big thing in the off-season. With comparisons to John David Booty and Matt Leinart, JT Daniels looked poised to take USC back to the National Championship stage. Instead, he has under-performed at almost every turn. In seven games, Daniels has thrown for 1629 yards, eight TD’s and seven INT’s. He missed the ASU game with a concussion and backup QB Jack Sears played fairly well, throwing for 235 yards and two TD’s with no INT’s on 20-28 passing. A far cry from Daniels’ last game, in which he only completed six passes out of 16 attempts for 89 yards, one TD and two INT’s in a 41-28 loss to Utah. Daniels will be looking to solidify his job as the starter against a Beaver defense that will be energized after the comeback win over Colorado.

Biggest Question Mark

How long does Clay Helton keep his job?

Colorado v USC Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Clay Helton will be coaching for his life on Saturday. USC is not the most forgiving of fan-bases, as Lane Kiffin can attest to after being fired on the airport tarmac after a loss in 2011. After narrowly missing the CFP last year and the influx of talent that USC regularly gets, the blame for USC’s struggles will continue to be poured onto Clay Helton until the administration is forced to act. If the Trojans do lose on Saturday, then Clay Helton won’t be on the hot seat, he will be sitting on the sun. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was given the Lane Kiffin treatment and fired on the tarmac of PDX. All of this is predicated on OSU pulling off the upset on Saturday, but with the vocal fan-base of USC apparently fed up with Helton, and the Trojans struggling on the field, it may only be a matter of time until the USC job is hiring again.

History With Oregon State

USC has traditionally owned the Beavers in football, having an official record of 62 wins, 11 losses and four ties. The Trojans also have one of the longest win streaks over the Beavers, winning 26 straight meetings from 1968-1999. However, the Beavers have had several notable upsets of the Trojans over the years. In 1967, the “Giant Killers” shut out O.J. Simpson and the #1 Ranked USC Trojans by a score of 3-0. In 2006, “Giant Killers 2: The Sequel” aired at Reser Stadium when a two-point conversion pass from John David Booty was batted down by Jeff Van Orsow to preserve a 33-31 win over the #3 Trojans. And finally in 2008, Jacquizz Rodgers became a household name by rushing for 186 yards and 2 TD’s in a 27-21 upset of the #1 Trojans.


Oregon State will be traveling to Palo Alto to play Stanford before flying up to Seattle for a match-up with the Washington Huskies. The Trojans will be returning to LA to play the California Golden Bears before traveling to another LA location to play Chip Kelly and their rivals: the UCLA Bruins. Whether or not Clay Helton will be traveling with them remains to be seen.