NOTEBOOK: Oregon State at USC

Series history...last time Beavers and Trojans played...USC connections...stout starts and more inside.

Head coach: Pete Carroll (7th season)
(Career: 71-14 | At USC: 71-14)
Current ranking: #13 in AP/#15 in coaches|#19 in BCS
Current record: 6-2, 3-2
Streak: One game losing streak
Head coach: Mike Riley (7th season)
(Career: 43-37 | At OSU: 43-37)
Current ranking: NR
Current record: 5-3, 3-2
Streak: Three game winning streak


Last time Oregon State and USC met...
Oct. 28, 2006 - Oregon State 33, USC 31
Oregon State and undefeated (6-0) USC met at Corvallis and the Beavers held off a late Trojan rally to upset No. 3-ranked USC 33-31, snapping the Trojans' 27-game Pac-10 winning streak.

OSU PK Alexis Serna's fourth field goal of the game had given the Beavers a 33-10 lead late in the third quarter, but SC came storming back. Trojan QB John David Booty threw three late touchdown passes to draw USC to 33-31, but Beaver DE Jeff Van Orsow batted down Booty's two point conversion attempt with seven seconds left to preserve the win.

The 33 points by the Beavers were their most against the Trojans since getting 38 in the initial game of the series in 1914. USC outgained OSU 492-351 as Booty passed for 406 yards and the three TDs, but the Trojans were done in by four turnovers, their most since 2003.

TB Clinton Polk, filling in for injured All-Pac-10 TB Yvenson Bernard, rushed for an even 100 yards for the Beavs. ... more from


Last time Oregon State played in Los Angeles...
Dec. 6, 2003 - USC 52, Oregon State 28
USC and Oregon State closed out the regular season at Los Angeles and the No. 2-ranked Trojans claimed the Pac-10 title with a 52-28 win.

There were plenty of numbers to look at in this one. For the victorious Trojans, QB Matt Leinart passed for 278 yards and five touchdowns. That upped his season total to a Pac-10-record 35 TD passes. OSU actually outgained USC 543-388 with QB Derek Anderson having a huge day. Anderson put the ball up 60 times, completing 34 for a school-record 485 yards and two TDs, but was victimized by four interceptions.

The 485 yards passing was the second-most ever allowed by USC. OSU FL Mike Hass had 208 yards receiving on eight catches.

The Trojan special teams blocked two field goal attempts and one punt ... more from


Last time USC played...
Nov. 27, 2007 in Eugene - Oregon 24, USC 17
Matthew Harper's interception on USC's final drive preserved a 24-17 victory and put No. 5 Oregon on the short list of national title contenders.

As for No. 9 Southern California, just defending its Pac-10 is an uphill battle at this point  ... more from


Last time Oregon State played...
Oct. 27, 2007 - Oregon State 23, Stanford 6
Sean Canfield threw for 142 yards and Alexis Serna kicked three field goals in to lead Oregon State to a 23-6 win over Stanford.

Matthew Sieverson ran for 68 yards after replacing injured tailback Yvenson Bernard for the Beavers (5-3, 3-2 Pac-10). Bernard ran for 62 yards before leaving at halftime with a shoulder injury ... more from


Series history (USC leads 57-9-4, 38-3-3 in Los Angeles).
USC and Oregon State have met 70 times dating to 1914 with the Trojans dominating the series 57-9-4. USC has won 30 of the last 32, although OSU's two wins in that stretch have come in the last six years, including last season's upset victory.

The Beavers have had no luck in Los Angeles where USC has won 20 in a row against OSU. The last Beaver victory in L.A. came in 1960. USC has posted 17 shutouts in the series.

Pete Carroll has never lost in November.

This is just the fifth time that USC has played Oregon and then Oregon State in back-to-back games. In each of the previous 4 situations (1974-93-94-99), the Trojans have followed the Ducks game with a win over the Beavers.


USC connections.
USC has no players from the state of Oregon, while the Beavers sport 49 players who hail from California.  Oregon State head coach Mike Riley served as the offensive coordinator under John Robinson at USC from 1993 to 1996.  OSU defensive coordinator Mark Banker was a USC assistant coach in 1996.  USC S Kevin Ellison's brother, Keith, was a linebacker at Oregon State in 2004 and 2005.

OSU women's swimming coach Larry Liebowitz was an assistant swim coach at USC for 8 seasons (1996-2003).


Stout defenses.
Two of the most difficult teams to move the ball against in the Pac-10 will be featured at the Coliseum Saturday. USC leads the Pac-10 and is fourth in the nation allowing 263.0 yards per game, while OSU is second in the conference and 13th nationally giving up an average of 299.9 yards.


You can't run on us!
Entering this week's action Oregon State and USC rank as the top two teams in the Pac-10 for rushing defense. The Beavers lead the nation allowing an average of 54.5 yards per game with California's Justin Forsett the only opposing back to reach triple figures against the Beavers (150). USC is second in the Pac-10 and seventh nationally allowing 78.9 yards.

Trojans rank first in Pac-10 in total defense and pass defense, second in scoring defense and rush defense.

A huge part of OSU's rushing defense statistic is the 357 total yards lost by opponents via tackles-for-loss. Oregon State is the nation's leader for sacks per game at 4.25 and for yards lost via the sack with 263. The Beavers had a season-high eight against Arizona (allowed 22 for the season), which is more than five teams (Navy, Syracuse, Arkansas State, Toledo, Minnesota) have for the entire season.

That ranking will be tested this week as the Trojans are second in the conference for rushing at 190.9 yards.

Click picture for larger graphic


Versus the top 25.
A win Saturday against USC would signify a couple of big milestones for the Oregon State football program. The program has won a road game against a top-25 team each of the last three seasons (2005 at No. 18 Cal, 2006 at No. 24 Hawai'i and 2007 at No. 2 Cal), but has never won two true road games against nationally ranked opponents.

Oregon State hasn't won back-to-back games vs. the Trojans since 1914 and ‘16 -- the first two games of the series. The OSU program also hasn't won in Los Angeles since 1960 -- 20 consecutive losses.


Road warriors.
Oregon State has been successful of late on the road in Pac-10 action posting a 9-5 record since the start of the 2004 season. Only USC (12-3) has more away game victories in that same span -- one of its losses was at OSU last season, snapping the Trojans' 27-game conference win streak.

Head coach Mike Riley and former head coaches the late Tommy Prothro (1955-64) and the late Dee Andros (1965-75) are the only mentors in Oregon State history to post victories over top 25 teams in three consecutive years (nobody has done it four straight).

Riley has wins in 2005 over No. 18 Cal, 2006 over No. 3 USC and No. 24 Hawai'i, and 2007 over No. 2 Cal. Prothro won games in 1962 over No. 12 Stanford and No. 19 West Virginia, in 1963 over No. 14 Baylor and in 1964 over No. 17 Oregon. Andros beat No. 18 Arizona State in 1969, No. 14 Oklahoma in 1970 and No. 11 ASU in 1971.

Riley has in fact won four of his last seven games vs. top 25 foes.


Fast starts.
Oregon State has outscored its opponents 92-6 in the first quarter this season and over the last 17 games has a margin of 172-30 in the opening period. No team in the BCS has allowed fewer first quarter points or has a wider point differential for the opening period. Field goals by Arizona and Cincinnati are the only points allowed in the first.

USC is outscoring opponents 52-21 in first quarter.


History in the making.
While there was some question last week whether starting right guard Roy Schuening would be able to play due to an illness, he did make his 45th consecutive start -- the second longest streak in OSU history (Richard Seigler, 2000-03, 48).

If Schuening starts the final four games he would become the school's all-time leader for consecutive and overall starts with 49. Receiver Anthony Brown is also quietly moving up the list with 37 overall starts and would move into 10th place if he finishes out the season in that role.


Big crowd.
Oregon State will be playing before its largest crowd ever within Pac-10 action Saturday. The games is soldout with 92,000 fans set to watch the Beavers and Trojans making it the fourth largest crowed ever to watch an Oregon State game. OSU and UCLA played before 86,000 in Tokyo in 1980.

The largest ever to watch a game involving Oregon State was in 1986 at Michigan Stadium -- 104,741.


Oregon State needs one victory to become bowl eligible and likely play in its second consecutive postseason game and seventh in the last nine years. If Beaver head coach Mike Riley is involved in bowl games it is usually a good thing -- he's 3-0 as the head coach at OSU and 3-0 as the offensive coordinator at USC.

Click for picture larger graphic of Pac-10 bowl arrangements


Less turnovers equaling more wins.
Over the last 44 games, Oregon State is 20-2 when committing fewer turnovers than its opponent, 3-14 when committing more turnovers and 3-2 when even. In its victories last season, Oregon State was plus-14 for turnover margin; in its losses minus-6. 

While the Beavers lead the nation for quarterback sacks they have been as low as last for lost turnovers, but that has changed over the last three games, and not so coincidentally the team is 3-0.


Still in it.
Both the Beavers and Trojans remain in the hunt for the conference title, but neither can afford a loss. Oregon State also arrives in L.A. attempting for its fourth straight win over a top-25 team -- 2007 at No. 2 Cal, 2006 vs. No. 3 USC and at No. 24 Hawai'i.

Depending on the outcome of other games, the winner could stand as high as tied for second in the league on Saturday night.


Depth issues improving.
Injuries and other issues have taken a significant toll on the starting lineup.  Here's the latest.


True freshman watch.
Wide receiver Darrell Catchings has 24 receptions for 261 yards, including having the first touchdown of the season via the pass, and will be starting his third consecutive game at split end. Wide Receiver James Rodgers has made his presence known on rushing plays with 16 attempts for 264 yards, 16.5 ypc, good for second on the team.  He also has six catches for 90 yards.

Freshman linebacker Keith Pankey has been activated from redshirt status due to injuries on special teams and saw his first action at Arizona State.  He has six tackles and one fumble recovery in five games on special teams.


Additional notes.

  • Beavers finish with three of last four on road beginning this week at USC.

  • After 2-3 start, OSU has won three straight.  If the Beavers win Saturday it would match the longest streak in Mike Riley's tenure (twice in 2006 and in 2003).

  • OG Roy Schuening has started in 45 games, just three short of the OSU record (Richard Seigler, 2000-03).

  • PK Alexis Serna extended his Pac-10 career record for field goals made to 72 and has moved into a tie for eighth place on the Pac-10 career scoring list.

  • The Beavers have had tremendous success on fourth downs this season, converting a league-leading and tied for the third-best in the nation at 80 percent (8-10).

  • Oregon State is 38-6 when it leads after three quarters with Mike Riley as the head coach. Starting with the 2004 season, the Beavers are 24-2 (losses to LSU - 04 & UCLA - 07) when they head into the fourth quarter with the lead.

  • Oregon State may have among the most in terms of players redshirting in the Pac-10 this season with 29, plus an anticipated 30th with senior Sammie Stroughter applying for a medical redshirt. A host of those redshirts this season will be counted on to contribute next year as the Beavers currently routinely play 15 juniors and only five sophomores. The Beavers expect to be one of the younger teams in the conference in 2008.

  • USC is at home for the only time in a five-game stretch and faces possibly the most difficult schedule remaining in the conference -- at California, at Arizona State and vs.

  • Trojans are looking for 750th win in the program's history. They are winningest team among Pac-10 squads and 10th-best all-time in the nation.

  • QB Mark Sanchez has six TD passes in the last two games filling in for injured John David Booty, although Booty is slated to start this week.

  • DT Sedrick Ellis has 6.5 QB sacks, most among interior linemen in the Pac-10 and tied for third among all players.

  • This is the 74th consecutive game that USC has been in the AP Top 25.

  • TE Fred Davis, a Mackey Award candidate who continues to lead the nation's tight ends in yards per catch, is in USC's career receiving Top 20.

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