No. 1 USC (8-0, 5-0) at Oregon State (4-4, 3-2)
Reser Stadium, Corvallis, Ore.
TV: FSNW. Radio: KMPC (1540).
WHEN USC HAS THE BALL
The Trojans will try to establish the running game early so quarterback Matt Leinart can take advantage of play-action fakes. Reggie Bush will continue to line up at various spots, creating mismatches that could be even more pronounced because of his speed on artificial turf. Running back LenDale White’s underrated speed also could become more evident. Flanker Chris McFoy is nursing a knee sprain, so Jason Mitchell might play more than usual. Freshman Jeff Byers will make his first start at left guard in place of the injured John Drake. Defensive end Bill Swancutt, middle linebacker Trent Bray and cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Aric Williams lead a Beaver defense that ranks fourth in the conference.
WHEN OREGON STATE HAS THE BALL
Quarterback Derek Anderson has proved he can pile up passing yardage against the Trojans, but the Beavers must find a way to protect him from a defensive front that will bring pressure. Running back Dwight Wright averages 72 rushing yards a game for a team that ranks first in the Pac-10 in passing and last in rushing. Split end Mike Hass, tight end Joe Newton and slotback Marcel Love are the top receivers. If the Beavers cannot establish a running game, look for Trojan tackles Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson to increase their sack totals.
KEYS TO USC VICTORY
1. Turf Time. USC must create situations to take advantage of its speed. Getting the ball to Reggie Bush is a good start.
2. Protect Leinart. The Reser Stadium turf is hard. Winning this game -- and a national title -- would be harder if USC’s quarterback were injured.
3. Antagonize Anderson. Oregon State’s quarterback is going to get his passing yards, but the Trojans’ front seven must make him pay for every one.
HOW THEY COMPARE
*--* USC OSU 36.8 Scoring 23.5 10.9 Points Allowed 25.6 247.4 Passing Offense 289.5 171.1 Rushing Offense 83.9 418.5 Total offense 373.4 184.6 Passing Defense 194.6 71 Rushing Defense 128.6 255.6 Total Defense 323.2