Coming off a heartbreaking loss to Washington State, the USC Trojans play host to Oregon State at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Game time is at 4:00 EST from Los Angeles, with Oregon State still looking for its first win against the spread. The game can be viewed on the Pac-12 Network.
14th-ranked USC will have to find some incentive after they lost the biggest game of their regular season last Friday. A win over Washington State would’ve made them Pac-12 favorites, but their 30-27 loss has them fighting to get back in the College Playoff conversation.
QB Sam Darnold, though extremely talented, has been inconsistent, and USC has had to rely on the legs of Ronald Jones II. His 450 yards have propelled the Trojans, including 128 against the Cougars last week.
Their defense broke down against Luke Falk, and has given up 941 yards through the air over their last three games. They’ve made up for it with 11 turnovers during that time.
For Oregon State, they’ve had a rough time with just about everyone. They’ve been blown out in every game aside from their narrow 35-32 win over FCS Portland State. They’ve held none of their FBS opponents to under 40 points.
USC is major favorites in this Pac-12 matchup, with Vegas giving them 34 points.
It takes no expert to know Oregon State has had a rough time this year. They were favorites against Minnesota, and lost by five touchdowns. They’re already in 0-2 in Pac-12 play, losing by a combined score of 100-37. And they’ve also lost to group of five Colorado State by 31. But, that may work somewhat in their favor Saturday.
That’s because USC has traveled back from Washington State after a crushing loss, having dropped nine spots to No. 14 in the standings. Forced to play the Beavers next is not only a major letdown, but there’s not much to be gained from a win. It doesn’t mean USC is in any trouble to lose this game. But the Trojans are an undisciplined team despite all their talent, and they’re liable to have a slow start.
The last time they played a team with far less talent, they were knotted up with Western Michigan after three quarters. Oregon State has a back in Ryan Nall, who when healthy, can at least test the front the way the Broncos did in the opener.
And while Sam Darnold is a future top-10 pick in the NFL Draft, he’s been prone to make mistakes (8 interceptions to 9 TD passes). The Trojans have had multiple turnovers in each game they’ve played.
USC is the type of team that seems to play at the level of their competition, whether it’s up to Penn State, Washington State, or Washington, or down to Cal and Texas. Oregon State has just enough offensive punch to get early points before USC wakes up in the second half.
Look for Jones II and Stephen Carr to steer the ship right from the RB position, but not until it’s too late to cover. Oregon State has lost every game ATS, but USC has come a couple points from doing the same. Prepare for USC to look in trouble early and screw their heads back on late, but not quick enough to blow the Beavers out.