O/NSO - Oregon State preview

If it's November, it's a glimmer of light at the end of the BCS tunnel as Engineer Pete Carroll and his top-ranked USC Trojans' Express (8-0, 5-0) winds its way up to Corvallis, Oregon, for a Saturday evening stop with the Oregon State Beavers (4-4, 3-2) at the little depot know as Reser Stadium

The Obvious – If it's November, it's a glimmer of light at the end of the BCS tunnel as Engineer Pete Carroll and his top-ranked USC Trojans' Express (8-0, 5-0) winds its way up to Corvallis, Oregon, for a Saturday evening stop with the Oregon State Beavers (4-4, 3-2) at the little depot know as Reser Stadium.

The Not So Obvious – In hopes of derailing the Trojans, Coach Mike Riley's Beavers are being fed a strong media elixir of Corvallis memories, conjuring up the Beavers upset of the No. 1 Trojans and O.J. in 1967 and the 31-21 upset in 2000. The Trojans will counter with Pete Carroll's glowing 10-0 record in November, which is almost as impressive as the improving No. 1 Trojans.

The Obvious – Last week at Pullman, the Trojans dismantled the Washington State Cougars after being pelted before and early in the game with sleet, rain, and wind.

The Not So Obvious – With a resounding 42-12 Trojan victory, so much for weather intimidation. Of course, the Beavers are still hoping for bad weather to bolster this year's upset bid. Former OSU quarterback Steve Preece, who helped engineer the 1967, 3-0, Trojan upset and currently does radio on Beavers games, wistfully said, " SC players will be sitting in their hotel rooms all day watching it rain. They're going to be thinking, ‘This is horrible.'"

The Obvious – The weather forecast for Corvallis on Saturday is a high of 62 degrees and a low of 43 and partly cloudy, unsettling for the Beavers considering an Oregonian staff writer this week commented, "You figure Oregon State doesn't have a chance against No. 1 USC unless it rains. A lot."

The Not So Obvious – The weather might have been an issue this week had the Trojans not have been so excited last week in Pullman to frolic in the elements. Pete Carroll's boys were generally excited to have some fun with Madame Nature. If Mike Riley's team did their scouting, they are certainly aware of the Trojans' All-Weather offense of WR Dwayne Jarrett (New Jersey), TE Dominique Byrd (Minnesota), RB LenDale White (Colorado), and OL Jeff Byers (Colorado), each of whom did heavy damage to Washington State.

The Obvious – The Trojans opened as 15-point favorites over the Beavers.

The Not So Obvious – The Beavers' coach Mike Riley, who has never coached against a top-ranked team, said, " I saw their (USC) game against Virginia Tech when they were trying to find themselves, and they've gotten better and better. Their defense is awesome." On the other hand, of Oregon State's three-game winning streak, Pete Carroll says, " That's a hot team with a lot of stuff."

The Obvious – Much of Saturday's decision will probably come down to turnovers and the Trojans are No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin.

The Not So Obvious – You would think that ranking would make Trojan Pete Carroll as happy as LenDale White hitting paydirt. "We're not getting enough turnovers," Carroll told Fox Sports' Lindsay Soto. "It's obvious we should be going after the football and we're not. We need to be looking on every play to take the ball away." Carroll went as far as to say he wasn't doing a good enough coaching job.

The Obvious – The Trojans were very successful playing on Washington State's Field Turf, largely due to the fact that Troy practiced on the same stuff on their own practice field during a rainy week.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans, however, will be playing on AstroTurf in Corvallis, something that some Beaver players think will be an advantage for the home team. When wet, it could slow down the Trojans, but with a forecast lacking rain, the fleet Trojans could turn the game into a track meet.

The Obvious – Saturday night's game is being televised locally at 7:00 p.m (PST). on Fox Sports Net West with Barry Tompkins and Petros Papadakis, the Trojans' homeboy.

The Not So Obvious – On Thursday's local Southern California Sports Report on Fox, Petros gave his Trojans' insight into Saturday night's game. " The Oregon State is the most loseable. Oregon State will try to frustrate the Trojans. Oregon State does not have the balance or the people. The Trojans win, not maybe a blow out."

The Obvious – The local Corvallis media is calling this game "a second chance before a nationally televised audience."

The Not So Obvious - That second chance is referring to the Beavers' early season overtime, 22-21, loss at co-national champion LSU on that heartbreaking missed extra point in OT by true freshman placekicker Alexis Serna, the Fontana A.B. Miller product. The Beavers' "second chance" may depend on the early kicking production on Saturday evening by either the Beavers' Serna or the Trojans' senior Ryan Killeen, both of whom may decide the degree of struggle we shall see.

The Obvious – When the Trojans were upset 3-0 by the Beavers in 1967, the game was played at Parker Stadium in the rain.

The Not So Obvious – The current Reser Stadium was originally known as Parker Stadium until June 14, 1999. At that time, Al and Pat Reser of Beaverton, Oregon, made a personal seven-figure "gift" to OSU athletics. Built in 1953, the stadium originally had a seating capacity of 28,000, but currently holds 35,362 and will be eventually increased to 55,000.

The Obvious – Over the years, that 1967 upset has gained mythical proportions in Corvallis lore.

The Not So Obvious – Most Trojan folks remember the rain and the "stopping" of tailback O.J. Simpson. However, most forget the USC quarterback who eventually led his Trojan team to a national championship that 1967 season. It was an unsung chucker named Steve Sogge (5-10, 170), the former Gardena High flash, who also doubled as a catcher for the legendary Rod Dedeaux.

The Obvious – The Trojans' offense will be led by Heisman candidate Matt Leinart, who last year threw for a school record-tying five touchdowns and 278 yards against the Beavers in the Trojans' 52-28 rout of Oregon State in the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – Although the Beavers were waxed in the Trojans' Pac-10 title winning game last year, returning Oregon State quarterback Derek Anderson threw for 485 yards, second-most ever allowed by Troy but also threw four interceptions. Given time and protection, Anderson could make the Trojans visit a rather uncomfortable one.

The Obvious – Matt Leinart comes into Saturday's game with 1883 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, four interceptions, and has completed 63% of his passes.

The Not So Obvious – Beaver star quarterback Derek Anderson (6-6, 240) has passed for 2242 yards, 16 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and has completed 52% of his passes.

The Obvious – The Trojans had great success last year getting to Anderson and rearranging his molecules.

The Not So Obvious – If you want to have some fun at a Trojan viewing party Saturday night, lay some odds on the amount of times Coach Ed Orgeron's front four gets to Anderson. There is no doubt that Anderson remembers the like of Trojans' stellar tackles Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson from last year's physical thrashing that, at times, bordered on brutality.

The Obvious – The Trojans' defense has given up 87 points this season.

The Not So Obvious – The Beavers' defense have given up 205 points this season.

The Obvious – Trojan defensive tackles Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson may have as much to do with Saturday's final outcome as anybody on the field.

The Not So Obvious – The Beavers also have quite a defensive lineman as well in senior Bill Swancutt (6-4, 259), who has 4.5 of the last 11 sacks Beaver sacks and upped his own Beaver sack record to 30 muggings. Last year, Wild Bill had a sack of Leinart and four tackles. Of historical note, Swancutt's great grandfather, C.V. Langton, was the Dean of Health and Physical Education at OSU for many years. In fact, the on-campus health and human performance building, Langton Hall, is named after Swancutt's great grandfather.

The Obvious – The leading receiver for the Trojans is freshman phenom Dwayne Jarrett, who has 423 seasonal yards, eight touchdowns, and averages 13.6 yards per catch.

The Not So Obvious – The leading receiver for the Beavers is junior Mike Hass, who has 891 seasonal yards, four touchdowns, and averages 15.9 yards per catch.

The Obvious – The Trojans defense, which gives up a paltry 10 points per game, will be strongly challenged by the genius of Mike Riley's passing offense, especially trying to cover standout wide receiver Mike Hass.

The Not So Obvious –Hass (6-1, 210), who was a star at Portland Jesuit HS, is having a killer year for the Beavers averaging 111.4 yards per game, fifth best in the nation. The civil engineering major had eight catches for 208 yards ( 26.0 ave.) at the Coliseum last year.

The Obvious – In the Trojans' last weekend's game at Washington State, the Cougars hosted Dad's Day.

The Not So Obvious – In this weekend's game at Oregon State, the Beavers are hosting Dad's Weekend.

The Obvious – The Beavers will challenge Matt Leinart with two of the best corners on the West Coast in sophomore Brandon Browner (6-4, 202), the former Sylmar HS standout and son of former Trojan great Keith Browner, and senior Aric Williams (6-0, 172), the former stud from Diamond Bar HS.

The Not So Obvious – An NFL prospect, Williams, whose cousin is former UCLA safety Shaun Williams, feels Saturday's game is a macho test of defenses. This week Williams said, " They (USC) and us have the best defenses in the conference, so we'll find out who's the best this year." Break out the testosterone pills.

The Obvious – The Trojans' 2004 offense averages 36 points per game.

The Not So Obvious – The Beavers' 2004 offense averages 23 points per game.

The Obvious – Much attention by the Beavers is being placed on stopping the Trojans sophomore tailback duo of LenDale White (6-2, 235) and Reggie Bush (6-0, 200), who combine for 5.25 yards per carry.

The Not So Obvious – The Beavers backfield, which has had to replace the great Steven Jackson, counters with improving senior Dwight Wright Jr. (5-9, 208) , the former Diamond Bar High flyer, and sophomore Ryan Cole (6-0, 233), the pride of Port Orchard, Washington, who combine for 3.3 yards per carry.

The Obvious – In this day and age of instant media attention, a player can hardly say anything that won't hit the papers or Internet, especially if you're the Trojans' celebrated tailback Reggie Bush.

The Not So Obvious – The Beavers have not only been paying attention to the explosive ability of Reggie Bush, but are playing up Reggie's comments saying that Bush thinks the Trojans will play Auburn in the BCS title game. The implication, of course, is that the Trojans are overlooking the Beavers. The Beavers might not want to wake a sleeping Bush, considering Reggie burned the Beavers last year for 173 all-purpose yardage. Shhhhhhh.

The Obvious – The Trojans will again be playing on the road to a sellout crowd that hopes to intimidate Carroll' top-ranked club.

The Not So Obvious – If you didn't catch the recent AP story on Carroll and being No. 1, Pete said, " Our mentality has been that it is OK to be in this situation (No. 1). It's what we expect and it's where we set our standards. We want it to be normal for us to have this type of attention."

The Obvious - One of the major reasons legendary coach John McKay's teams were so successful dealing with being No. 1 was the fact they had experience of being on top for so long.

The Not So Obvious – The Beavers certainly have experience of playing against top-ranked Trojan teams. Against No.1 Trojan teams, the Beavers are 1-4.

The Obvious – The Trojans are 20-1 with Matt Leinart at quarterback.

The Not So Obvious –Leinart's remarkable 20-1 winning record doesn't seem to intimidate Beaver safety Sabby Piscitelli (6-3, 217), who hails from Boca Raton, Florida. After the Beavers' big win last week at lowly Arizona, Piscitelli said, " I know we've got a good team here, and I know that's (USC) a great team. We have to play well against that team. I'm not taking anything away from them, but we can play with them. We've got athletes on this team."

The Obvious – There was much excitement earlier this year when ESPN GameDay with Fowler, Corso, and Herbstreit came to Los Angeles to do their show before the Cal game.

The Not So Obvious – Okay, it's not GameDay, but Saturday brings to Reser Stadium ESPN The Magazine and Dodge for their own tailgate party. Part of the festivities is a traveling "sports festival" that visits various game sites.

The Obvious – The Trojans offensive line will again need to protect Leinart, and this week it was reported that left tackle Taitusi Lutui, who has dropped 40 pounds from his original weight of 390, has been getting quicker as the season has progressed and has his blocking more accomplished.

The Not So Obvious – OSU, too, has a fine offensive tackle in senior Doug Nienhuis (6-6, 321), who is one of the star tackles in the Pac-10. The former Irvine Woodbridge stud, who played in high school at 280, has gotten better each year with weight gain and is now is being projected by NFL scouts as a very draftable player.

The Obvious – The University of Oregon is located in Eugene.

The Not So Obvious – For their game against Oregon State in Corvallis, the Trojans' Delta charter will fly into Eugene, home of the Ducks, and stay at the Valley River Inn in Eugene. Eugene to Corvallis is about a 50-mile drive-time excursion, which takes about an hour.

The Obvious – When it comes to special teams this season, the Trojans have, for the most part, excelled in most areas.

The Not So Obvious – Last year at the Coliseum, the Trojans blocked two Beaver field goals and a punt blocked and produced five Beaver turnovers.

The Obvious – As the Trojans prepare to battle Oregon State on Saturday evening, it was noted this week in the Daily Bruin that UCLA, which hosts Washington State at the Rose Bowl, has played three opponent who were each coming off losses to the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – In the same Daily Bruin article, UCLA quarterback Drew Olson said, " It's. weird. I am getting sick of watching USC's offense." In about four weeks, some that would argue it will be the UCLA's defense that may have the gastrointestinal issue.

The Obvious – For USC fans, there is nothing worse than having to wait till the evening to watch their beloved Trojans, especially if the only option is the television.

The Not So Obvious – There is, however, a nice little build up for the Trojans' game on the tube beginning with "We're Back" Oregon at "BCS, Here We Come" Cal (12:30 p.m./ABC) followed by "We're Melting" Stanford at "We Can't Score" Arizona State (4:30 p.m./FSN).

The Obvious – Having obliterated one northwest opponent last week in Pullman, the Trojans are ripe for their November groove, hoping to make it two in a row against the Beavers.

The Not So Obvious – If Saturday's game were a heavyweight championship, you could reasonably say that Mike Riley's Beavers have a punchers chance of upsetting the top-ranked Trojans. The problem for Oregon State is that come November, USC's Pete Carroll is 10-0 with knockouts in most of them. With so much on the line in Corvallis, don't expect a Pete Carroll rope-a-dope.

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