Beavs run over in mistake-filled loss

WELL SO MUCH for how this one looked on paper. USC, who came into the game having rushed for just 30 yards the week before against Utah, ran roughshod over Oregon State to the tune of 242 ground yards. Sean Mannion, who had thrown but three interceptions all game, tossed three in the 31-14 loss - all of them deep in USC territory.

You got the feeling this was going to be a bad night for the Beavs early.

Oregon State opened with a Sean Mannion pass to Brandin Cooks for 31 yards. But OSU's drive stalled and Trevor Romaine's field goal attempt came out low and was blocked.

USC, on their first possession, saw QB Cody Kessler hit Marqise Lee for 71 yards for a score on their first play.

Just like that, the Beavs were down 7-0.

Soon it would be 14-0. Mannion was under pressure and he took some hits early, but it wasn't overwhelming like it was the week before. And after USC started dropping back and bringing four, it was even less. It was still an adequate amount of pressure, though as it turned out.

Mannion made his first costly miscue after a 9-play, 67-yard drive, with the interception coming in the end zone.

Oregon State tied it at 14-all in a flash - a Mannion TD strike to Cooks followed on the very next play from scrimmage a 41-yard interception return for score by Ryan Murphy. But that was the last time OSU looked in charge.

USC found something in the next drive. Until then they had been mixing in the pass and run but on a 10-play, 75 yard drive, USC ran the ball eight times, ripping off huge chunks of yardage right up the gut to take a 21-14 lead.

And USC ran it, ran it, ran it the rest of the night. Oregon State couldn't stop it. So USC handed the ball off 44 times.

Oregon State couldn't answer, with another Mannion pick near the USC goal line, a missed 26-yard field goal by Romaine and a final interception to seal the win for USC.

Before that final pick, OSU trailed by 17 with 6:46 to go. It would take another miracle. But Oregon State seemed content to take their time - there was no real urgency.

Certainly, OSU at that point didn't resemble anything close to a hurry-up offense, more like idling at a slightly increased rate.

It was just one final head-scratcher in a loss that few saw unfolding in the way it did.

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