OSU vs. USC: Who has the edge?

HOW DO YOU quantify, evaluate and break it down on USC when they allowed a good Stanford running attack but 128 yards rushing -- and then the next week against Boston College surrendered a video-game like 452 yards on the ground?

It certainly doesn’t account for all of ‘em, but 191 of those BC rushing yards were by the quarterback. And Oregon State does not have a running QB in Sean Mannion. That said, this is a critical game for Storm Woods and Terron Ward and the Beaver o-line.

Running Back:
Against lesser competition, Oregon State racked up some decent ground yardage in the first two games – Terron Ward has 124 yards against Hawaii and Storm Woods went for 125 hashes against Portland State. But OSU was brought back down to earth against SDSU, with 97 yards on 36 carries (2.7 ypc). They did get the most important yards, though, with four rushing TDs. Javorius Allen ran for 287 yards the first two games, and then got stuffed against BC with just 31 yards on 15 carries. Injuries have hurt the depth here but Allen is the workhorse regardless.
Edge: Even

Offensive Line:
The Beaver o-line has been serviceable for the most part, and they’ve really missed Isaac Seumalo who again will sit out Saturday’s tilt. Roman Sapolu is likely to start again in place of Garrett Weinreich, though he is getting closer and closer to full health. Oregon State needs to establish themselves early in this one, and send a message to what was seen as a strong USC defensive front before the BC game. USC has two freshmen up front in guards Toa Lobendahn and Damien Mama and they’ve performed decently, but they should be tested by an OSU defense that has yet to allow and third quarter points (34-0). Both lines have struggled in surrendering sacks and with OSU’s secondary, it’s expected the Beavs are going to come after USC QB Cody Kessler.
Edge: Oregon State

Quarterback:
Sean Mannion, when he gets time, is as good as anyone in the country. USC might be in a mood to blitz with Victor Bolden out and unable to burn them but Mannion has plenty of other weapons to choose from including steady Richard Mullaney and TEs Connor Hamlett and Caleb Smith. Mannion had an awful day last year against USC with three picks, the guess here is he took an education from that and will have a good decision-making day. Kessler has been steady, completing 71 percent of his passes with eight TDs and no picks. But USC’s passing attack has been safe, for the most part, and he hasn’t faced a secondary like Oregon State’s.
Edge: Oregon State

Receivers:
Oregon State will take the redshirt off Xavier Hawkins with Victor Bolden out. The positive there is that an unknown quantity can be tough for a team with no tape to study on him. The key for the Beavs, however, may reside with how productive SE Jordan Villamin and SB Hunter Jarmon are against USC. The Trojans are likely to over-focus on Mullaney and try to keep the tight end in check, otherwise Mannion will pick them apart. That should free up both Villamin and Jarmon. The wildcard is Rahmel Dockery, who might be open on a vertical route here and there. USC has Nelson Agholor and he’ll be a stout test for the Beavs. The other wideouts (Juju Smith, George Farmer) are complementary pieces that could nevertheless have big days if OSU overplays on Agholor.
Edge: USC

Defensive Line:
Oregon State has a nice rotation going on inside, with Siale Hautau, Bud Delva and Jalen Grimble all capable of making some noise. Dylan Wynn and Lavonte Barnett have been mostly solid on the edge and Jaswha James, after starting the first two games, is subbing in off the bench. For Oregon State to win the day, the Beaver d-line needs to push the freshmen guards around and muck up the works. USC defensive end Leonard Williams is going to play on Sundays, and OSU must have an answer for him and at times, have a running back ready to chip. The d-line as a whole, however, has not been as dominant as they were predicted to be before the season. Still, DTs Antwaun Woods, Claude Pelon and Delvon Simmons can beat anyone on any given day, as Stanford found out. But they can also be beat, as the BC game illustrated.
Edge: USC

Linebackers:
Oregon State is deep and productive with Michael Doctor (leads Beavs in tackles (18) and TFL (3.5) , D.J. Alexander and Jabral Johnson on the first team, and Rommel Mageo and Caleb Saulo in rotation. USC has sophomore Scott Felix and veterans J.R. Tavai. Hayes Pullard and Anthony Sarao. Pullard leads the group but the question is which unit shows up: the one who played decently against Stanford or the one that looked lost against Boston College. If OSU can hit the hole quick, the group might take some bad angles as they did against BC. And Hamlett or Smith could find some soft spots to set up in.
Edge: Oregon State

Secondary:
Oregon State’s quartet of CB Steven Nelson, S Ryan Murphy, S Tyrequek Zimmerman and CB Larry Scott have put up a wall this season – they’re No. 9 in the nation with 141.7 passing yards per game. But the competition level gets ratcheted up this week. OSU’s d-line needs to get heat on Kessler because the best DBs in the nation can’t cover forever. They also need to be solid against the run. The Beavs are ranked No. 6 nationally in total defense as well. Are they that good, or did the level of opponent have something to do with it? The Trojans are experienced with cornerback Kevin Seymour and Gerald Bowman but they also have talented youth in Su’a Cravens and Chris Hawkins. The Trojans rank 19th nationally in allowing 166.3 passing yards per game.
Edge: Even


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