USC will try to win its 24th straight home game against Oregon State when the No. 15 Trojans host the Beavers in a Pac-12 game on Saturday. Oregon State has won three of the past seven meetings against USC, which dropped 10 spots in the coaches’ poll after losing at No. 11 Washington State on Friday night.
The Trojans aren’t receiving the superior play from quarterback Sam Darnold many expected early in his sophomore year, and that’s been keeping their games closer than anticipated. Darnold has nine touchdown passes and eight interceptions this season, and his fumble late in the fourth quarterback against Washington State sealed the end of USC’s 13-game winning streak. The Beavers will be up against a ranked opponent for the third straight game after losing to Washington State and No. 5 Washington over the past three weeks, and the defense has surrendered 142 points over the past three games overall. Oregon State also lost quarterback Jake Luton to a thoracic spine fracture against Washington State three weeks ago and he will likely miss a second straight contest.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: USC -34.
ABOUT OREGON STATE (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12): The Beavers have been perfect inside the red zone this season, scoring nine touchdowns and kicking a field goal, making them one of 12 teams in the nation who are perfect inside their opponent’s 20-yard line. Ryan Nall is a dependable running back for Oregon State and the junior has eight 100-yard rushing efforts with the Beavers, including two this season. With the quarterback situation a question mark following the injury to Luton, look for Oregon State to lean on Nall, at least early in the game while it’s close.
ABOUT USC (4-1, 2-1): Ronald Jones II is playing at the level many expected heading into the season, rushing for 450 yards in four games and scoring six touchdowns. He showed his breakaway ability by scoring on an 86-yard touchdown run in the lost to Washington State, but the nature of the game limited him to a season-low 14 carries. With the struggles of Darnold so far this season, the Trojans may use this opportunity to take some pressure off their quarterback and see what Jones can do with 20-to-25 carries against Oregon State.
1. USC has 16 seniors on its roster and Oregon State has 17, two of the three lowest totals in the Pac-12. UCLA also has 16 seniors.
2. Oregon State has allowed four punt returns this season totaling 15 yards.
3. Darnold has a career completion mark of 66.4 percent. The school record is 67.5 set by Cody Kessler from 2012-2015.
PREDICTION: USC 45, Oregon State 21