The stage was set for a horror movie. It was a short week with a game right around Halloween time— in Corvallis, no less. Even stacked USC teams in 2006 and 2008 could not win up there. This was a team riddled with injuries and playing walk-ons. Add the infamous “Glasses Ref” to that (Note: That is not Pac-12 Official, Jay Stricherz’s actual twitter account). Some fans were hoping that USC would just keep it close. They blew all the expectations out of the water. Recovery was the key component in the game.
The Trojans started fast, stopping Oregon State to a field goal attempt— then blocking it. USC took the next play straight to the end zone with a 71-yard pass from Cody Kessler to a recovered Marqise Lee. After holding the Beavers to a three and out, the Trojans looked poised to move the ball well, but a sack and a holding call on Aundrey Walker stalls the drive. USC appeared to have fallen to old habits again. They were able to recover, though, capping off a 72-yard drive with a 9-yard run by Javorius Allen to put them up 14-0.
Then the mistakes rolled in again, with Oregon State scoring on two quick passes and again off of Kessler’s pick-six, all in a row. The score stood tied at 14-14. No doubt, the Trojan faithful began to get nervous. It was going much like the game against Arizona State, where USC had an early lead that was squandered.
Again, recovery was the key. The Trojans did not let that rattle them, scoring on another long drive. Allen played as the finisher on the 75-yard drive after Silas Redd made tough runs to get the ball into the red zone. USC took that lead into halftime.
A huge criticism of USC the past couple years was their inability to perform well in the third quarter and second half. The Trojans opened the half with a 62-yard pass to Nelson Agholor, but a miscue that resulted in a bad snap made them settle for a field goal. On the ensuing drive, Oregon State marched down the field but got stopped in the red zone again. They missed their field goal, perhaps in trying to avoid another block.
USC got the ball back and penalties killed their drive yet again. The Beavers picked up their first third down conversion of the game but were forced to punt again later on. The Trojans bounced back and took advantage of the situation to pad their lead. They used two long runs by Redd and Allen to score on a 90-yard drive.
The penalties committed by USC continued into the fourth quarter, totaling to nine for 68 yards. Oregon State still had none. When their only penalty game happened, it was a big one. Dion Bailey intercepted Sean Mannion near the end zone and Tyler Perry pulled Bailey’s face mask causing him to drop the ball, tacking on a 15-yard loss to the change of possession.
The Trojans began playing under control methods, leading to the most lopsided time of possession for USC since the game against struggling Boston College. Mannion would be intercepted again— this time by Kevon Seymour— at a point when the game was clearly over.
The Trojans managed to turn things around despite many bad plays and penalties. Offensively, they managed to convert on 50% of their third downs, getting more than the previous two weeks. They were a combined 5 out of 28 in this department the previous two games and 7 of 14 against the Beavers. Defensively, they held the nation’s number one passing offense in yards (3366), yards per game (420.8), and passing touchdowns (30) to 277 yards and a single touchdown. The only time the Beavers scored all game was during a painful 14 seconds early in the second quarter.
The offensive and defensive production culminated in a three score victory on the road against a team which only had one conference loss to rank six Stanford. With the win, USC stays in the hunt for the Pac-12 South title. They deserve lots of credit for a decisive victory in a tough environment. You just can’t make this stuff up.
Late in the first quarter, Marqise Lee had double the yards of the entire Oregon State offense. Lee had 94 yards receiving and the Beavers had 47 net yards.
Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion came into the game with 3 interceptions over the first eight games. The Trojans doubled that number in a single game.
Running backs Redd and Allen both rushed for over 100 yards. Redd had 140 yards and as only hit for a loss once the entire game. Allen had 133 yards and never got hit for a loss.
USC picked up its sixth win of the season and technically became bowl eligible. However, they must remain over .500 or they would need a waiver in order to play in a bowl, much like UCLA in 2011 and Georgia Tech in 2012.