BF.C KEYS TO THE GAME: USC

ONE WORD, one simple word, sums up what it might take for Oregon State to win at USC for the first time since 1960. And yet, if there ever was a year when the Beavers had a solid chance at beating the Trojans in the historic Coliseum, this would seem to be the year..

Perfection.

"Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It's not about winning. It's about you and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn't let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasn't one more thing you could've done. Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? If you can do that gentleman - you're perfect!"
- Friday Night Lights. Coach Gary Gaines


Oregon State doesn't have to be literally perfect in order to beat USC in their own house -- don't misunderstand.

What they have to do is live up to coach Gaines' definition of perfect -- Give it everything you've got, and then just a little bit more.

Leave it all on the field. Walk away knowing there wasn't one single thing you could have done better, one moment where you could have tried harder.

USC is vulnerable, yet that is not to say that the Trojans are deficient in virtually any facet of the game.

Freshman quarterback Matt Barkely has been, if not amazing, nothing short of utterly efficient. Tailback Joe McKnight has grown up and learned how to run between the tackles and grind for the short yards -- instead of approaching every carry like he is starring in Madden 2010.

But what the Trojans have not been, is overwhelmingly dominant.

The Trojans are coming off of a bit of a scare in South Bend, a game that started out like a walk in the park and turned into something of a dogfight. The Beavers will come into the game fresh, spending two weeks looking at the Trojans on film and resting up and, perhaps, visualizing perfection.

This is certainly a game that Oregon State can win. It won't be easy, and it won't be for the faint of heart.

But Mike Riley teams have shown consistent improvement over the course of each season in his second stint, and with the Rodgers brothers both healthy, it is well within their capabilities. And Riley has a sparkling record coming off of a bye week -- his Beavers have won the last 7 games in a row coming off of a bye.

Ball Security

It goes without saying that Oregon State cannot afford to lose the turnover battle. 
 
The good news is the Beavers need to just keep doing what they have been doing.  Sean Canfield is playing like a fifth year senior of late and Jacquizz Rodgers has superhuman ability to avoid fumbling the ball. 
 
It's more than important to keep that trend going.
 
Click, Click, Boom
 
Oregon State needs to come out hitting on all cylinders, grab some confidence early by having things click and then explode for a backbreaking big play. 
 
This can happen on either side of the ball, but for Oregon State to win this game it will probably need to happen on both.  
 
A big pick, a big fumble recovery, a monster sack on defense. An explosion on offense to take it to the house, a James Rodgers punt return for a touchdown. 
 
Big plays are like body shots in boxing -- they are not knockout blows, but they take all the resolve out of the opponent.  Big plays kill the opponents' will.
 
Find the X-Factor
 
Oregon State's offense isn't flashy -- it doesn't contain a gee-whiz offensive set that turns the game on its head and causes defensive coordinators to rethink the way they perceive the game. 
 
But what Riley does as well or better than anyone in the country is find ways to set up a wrinkle difficult to adjust to.
  
Last year, the X-factor was James Rodgers, but not in the manner you would think.  Coming off the fly sweep fake, Rodgers would bury his facemask in USC all-everything DE Everson Griffen, leaving the TE and OT free to block down or head to the next level so that freshman Jacquizz Rodgers had room to slash and burn through the vaunted Trojan D.
 
What will this year bring?  
 
REVIEWING LAST WEEK'S KEYS:
 
1 - Wrap up.  The number one player that I'd like to recognize in accomplishing this key is Cameron Collins.  The completely un-politically correct statement that I overheard (and therefore take no credit or blame for) in the stands was; "That kid is latching on to Gerhart like a pit bull to a toddler".  Don't kill the messenger, I will sell the guilty party out for a tootsie pop, just ask.  Grade:  A.
 
2 - Take Away the Play Action.  Aside from the very first play of the game (a monumental coverage breakdown), Oregon State did an incredible job rolling up the corners into press coverage (or, as Jim Harbaugh would call it after he lost, holding,) and keeping Gerhart from being effective.  Grade: A.
 
3 - Expose Their Defense.  The quick outs to James Rodgers, the WILDCAT set, the seam routes, Markus Wheaton running the fly sweep out of the Wildcat.  Speed everywhere.  Overall just an absolutely fantastic game plan by Langsdorf and Riley, and they did exactly what they needed to -- They turned the game into a track meet.  Grade:  A. 

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