Oregon State and USC met on the gridiron for the first time in 1914 with the Beavers winning 38-6 in a game played in Tacoma, Washington.
On Saturday, the seventh-ranked Trojans will make their final trip to Corvallis as members of the same conference as the Beavers. The Big Ten announced this summer that USC and UCLA will join that conference in 2024. This move by the two Los Angeles schools ends affiliations with what is now the Pac-12 Conference that stretch back to 1922 for USC and to 1924 for UCLA.
Oregon State will open Pac-12 play against USC with a record of 3-0 following a 68-28 win over Montana State on Saturday.
“It’s where we wanted to be. You start the season, you’ve got a nonconference schedule and I think we had some good play there. Not a complete game — all three games we found ways to win, that’s what you wanted. But the real season starts now, the first of nine conference games that obviously we want to have the same result,” said head coach Jonathan Smith in his press conference on Monday.
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Oregon State defeated USC 45-27 last year. This was the first win for the Beavers against USC in Los Angeles since 1960. A lot has changed within the USC program since that game. Head coach Clay Helton was fired and USC brought in former Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley to turn things around. USC is 3-0 with wins over Rice, Stanford and Fresno State.
Former Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams joined Riley in making the move to USC and has been nearly perfect so far. Williams has completed 64 of 86 pass attempts (74%) for 874 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. He also has two rushing touchdowns.
“Just not a lot of flaws. Accurate, poised in the pocket and that’s not easy to do. These guys that are athletic enough they extend the play, oftentimes they get quick to doing that. This guy’s going to stand in the pocket, keep his eyes down the field, good protection, know when he’s getting blitzed the ball comes out. When he’s got protection he just stands back there. Really, really good, talented quarterback,” Smith said.
Oregon State will be without some key players against USC. Running back Trey Lowe and tight end Luke Musgrave have been ruled out.
“Luke will be a little bit longer. Not season-ending but not anytime soon,” Smith said of his return.
Smith said kicker Everett Hayes has been limited in practice recently due to an injury and that likely affected him during the Montana State game when he missed an extra point and a field goal attempt. His status for the USC game will be decided later in the week.
Oregon State’s academic year begins on Wednesday. This will certainly boost the student section for Saturday’s home game but it also means Oregon State’s players have new responsibilities to handle alongside football.
“We addressed that a little bit and again I think we’ve got a mature group that knows we’re keeping the main thing the main thing,” Smith said.