CORVALLIS – Perhaps OSU hadn't fully recouped after a short week between games. Maybe they were surprised by a suddenly resurgent USC running attack. Or maybe they're like many BeavFans -- at a loss to explain what the heck happened out there. No matter how you slice it, Oregon State was not ready for a Trojan invasion Friday night at Reser and looked lethargic early and often in the 31-14 loss.
Game at a Glance
Even with a mounting injury list and sans two defensive starters, Oregon State played mistake-prone, uninspired football. And USC played old school offensive football.
Oregon State struggled to contain an unrelenting Trojan defense, particularly early when they dialed up the pressure. Oregon State was stymied by the Trojan stop corps, who picked up what OSU was putting down offensively, notching three interceptions off of Sean Mannion
. A blocked and missed field goal didn't help matters.
USC running back Silas Redd
did not make it easy for the OSU stop corps. He blasted by the Beavs for 85 yards on just 12 carries in the first half, helping to set up Javorius Allen
for two scores that helped propel USC to a 21-14 halftime lead.
The Beavs relied heavily on the legs of Terron Ward
and the hands of Brandin Cooks
to carry the burden on offense, but it was clear early on that Mannion was not firing on all cylinders. After getting close to pay-dirt on the churning legs of Ward, Mannion lofted a prayer into the end zone, a pass that was promptly intercepted by a USC defender. That first pick ended up setting the tone for OSU's collective woes Friday night.
Mannion's 27-yard connection to Cooks with 9:43 remaining had the crowd saying hallelujah, and Ryan Murphy
's subsequent pick-six off of Cody Kessler
occurred before the smoke had cleared from the previous explosion of fireworks celebrating Cooks' grab. And thus, a glimmer of hope was born.
But USC responded with a bruising ground attack, and the Beaver defense just didn't have an answer for it. The Trojans powered down the field for 75 yards, 64 of which came courtesy of an undisguised ground attack. USC carried Ol' Mo into the half leading 21-14.
As soon as Oregon State got the ball back for their first possession of the second half, it became quite clear that the key to victory in Corvallis rested with Cooks. With the exception of a few runs, all other dimensions of the Beaver offense had been edged out, and this was no more apparent than in the third quarter, where the Beaver offense accounted for just 84 total yards. OSU failed to score a point in the second half.
The big-play capabilities of Cooks were eventually eliminated by the USC secondary, they didn't have to respect much else. And other weapons – sophomore split-end Richard Mullaney
, redshirt freshman slotback Malik Gilmore
and junior TE Connor Hamlett
chief among them – just could not get the ball rolling Friday night.
Oregon State's inability to capitalize on three separate drives from scrimmage in the third quarter eliminated all hopes of a comeback, and Redd and Allen thoroughly ripped apart a fatigued Beaver defense, putting SC up by 17 points before the start of the fourth quarter.
The second half saw OSU's offensive approach became desperate and disorganized, too heavily dependent upon a dilapidated pass game. Sean Mannion's second interception of the game occurred when he tried to force a shot into double coverage to junior tight end Tyler Perry
near the goal line. It was especially painful in that it came on first down and all he had to was throw it away and come back at ‘em the next play.
A third and final Mannion interception giving the ball right back to a roaring ‘SC offense, who lowered its head and continued to run right past OSU to keep the clock ticking on the Beavers' second straight loss.
Players of the Game
Terron Ward, strictly for the effort the Beaver running back showed in moving the chains for his struggling offense Friday night. Ward was responsible for just 53 yards on just eight runs, with most of it coming in the first half. He kept the wheels spinning until the wagon fell apart on Oregon State.
Junior safety Ryan Murphy was single handedly responsible for pumping life into Reser with his 41-yard interception return for a TD. It was the most explosive play of the game for Oregon State, and one of the few bright spots in a match where the Beavs never once held a lead.
Turning Point/Game Changers
OSU dug their own grave Friday night with Mannion's three interceptions, two of which came on particularly poor passes in, or on the doorstep, of the end zone. Mannion's arm, so spectacular until last week at Stanford, produced more bricks than a quarry against the Trojans and while the blame for a loss should never rest solely on a QB, Mannion's inability to command the tempo of this tilt greatly hampered OSU's efforts to crawl out of an ever-widening crevasse.
Romaine's second missed attempt at a field goal came with 10:40 remaining in the third quarter, a 26-yard attempt which sailed wide left and effectively kept the Beavers on the wrong side of the battle for momentum for the rest of the game.
OSU needed to get six in the third quarter after forcing a change of possession but a highly contested pass to sophomore split end Richard Mullaney fell incomplete to resounding boos from the stands. It looked like pass interference to the fans, to the TV audience and to the ESPN announcers, but the officials kept the flag in their pocket and the Beavs had to punt away.
Unexpected Developments -
Between Allen and Redd, USC amassed 273 ground yards and three touchdowns on the ground, an absolutely brutal statistic. The time of possession, naturally, was heavily slanted towards USC.
Three interceptions from a Heisman candidate, two of which were devestating? THUD. Mannion threw for 277 yards and a touchdown.
Meaningless Stats of the Game-
Cody Kessler was 17-of-21 passing for 247 yards and one touchdown. Oregon State kept USC to just 176 yards of passing after Marqise Lee's initial 71 yard touchdown catch in the first quarter but once USC figured out Oregon state couldn't stop the run, they rarely had the need to go to the pass.
USC had to use all three of their timeouts in the first quarter, which would normally point to a tenacious defensive effort and a lot of crowd noise. But the OSU was not that stout, and the crowd was consistently hushed throughout the quarter as USC picked up first down after first down, and 14 points in the first fifteen minutes alone.
Oregon State kept USC to just 176 yards of passing after Marqise Lee's initial 71 yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. On the whole, OSU's secondary played a pretty good game, but it won't show on the scorecard. That's because the front seven on defense for the Beavs missed tackles galore, allowing a ton of yards after contact.
Freshman linebacker Caleb Saulo replaced junior WIL D.J. Alexander, putting up one solo tackle and eight assisted in this bout.
Junior defensive tackle Edwin Delva started over injured senior DT John Braun (shoulder). Along with the rest of his teammates on the d-line and back in the box, Delva mostly came up short against what had been to this point a mostly pedestrian offensive line. Delva ended the night with three tackles.