USC vs. Oregon State: How the teams match up

Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion attempts a pass against Washington State earlier this season.
(Dean Hare / Associated Press)

USC at OREGON STATE 6 p.m. today, at Corvallis, Ore. (ESPN2)

USC will try to end a three-game losing streak at Reser Stadium, where the Trojans have not won since 2004. Staff writer Gary Klein examines the story lines:

Passing fancy

Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion is the top passer in major-college football. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound junior has completed 69% of his passes and has thrown for 30 touchdowns, with only three interceptions. In last week’s 20-12 loss to Stanford, Mannion completed 41 of 57 attempts for a season-low 271 yards and a touchdown.


Junior receiver Brandin Cooks has a national-best 13 touchdown catches and also ranks first nationally with 10.6 receptions and 157 yards receiving a game. Richard Mullaney has averaged 15.9 yards a catch and scored three touchdowns. Tight ends Connor Hamlett, Caleb Smith and Kellen Clute have combined for 53 receptions and nine touchdowns.

Mannion faces a USC secondary that was torched by Arizona State and exploited by Arizona and Notre Dame. The Trojans, however, intercepted three passes last week against Utah.

USC quarterback Cody Kessler is completing 61% of his passes, nine for touchdowns, with five interceptions.

All-American receiver Marqise Lee is probable after sitting out against Utah because of a knee injury. Lee could bolster a Trojans receiving corps that includes sophomore Nelson Agholor, freshman Darreus Rogers and fifth-year senior De’Von Flournoy. Tight end Xavier Grimble also is expected to return from an ankle injury

Oregon State cornerback Steven Nelson has five interceptions, cornerback Rashaad Reynolds four.

Back in play


USC tailback Tre Madden returned from a hamstring injury and rushed for 60 yards in 12 carries against Utah. The sophomore is expected to start against the Beavers.

Senior Silas Redd, who ran impressively against Arizona and Notre Dame, hopes to bounce back after gaining zero yards in 10 carries against Utah.

Oregon State ranks second to last nationally in rushing. Terron Ward and Storm Woods have each rushed for four touchdowns.

Third downer

USC converted only two of 13 third downs against Notre Dame and three of 15 against Utah.

The Trojans’ 28% success rate for the season ranks 116th among 123 major-college teams.

Interim Coach Ed Orgeron said pass protection and Kessler’s decision-making on third down must improve.

Oregon State, meantime, has a 43% conversion rate on third down, which ranks 47th.

Line it up


USC shuffled its offensive line when right tackle Kevin Graf suffered an ankle injury during the victory over Utah, and that lineup will start against the Beavers.

Sophomore Max Tuerk has moved from left guard to right tackle, senior John Martinez from right to left guard, and Aundrey Walker is playing right guard. Marcus Martin remains the center, Chad Wheeler the left tackle.

USC gave up five sacks against Utah and has given up 20 this season.

Oregon State end Scott Crichton has 11 tackles for losses, including 3 1/2 sacks.

Sophomore end Leonard Williams and junior linebacker J.R. Tavai lead a USC front that got six sacks against Utah, increasing its season total to 27.

Oregon State’s offensive line features freshman Sean Harlow, the son of former USC lineman Pat Harlow. The Beavers have given up 17 sacks, eight coming against Stanford.

Kicking in

USC kicker Andre Heidari came out of his self-described funk, regained his rhythm and made four of five field-goal attempts against Utah.


Heidari has made 10 of 16 field-goal attempts.

USC punter Kris Albarado has averaged 39.3 yards per kick.

Oregon State kicker Trevor Romaine has converted nine of 12 field-goal attempts, including one from 50 yards last week against Stanford.

Punter Keith Kostol averages 41.5 yards.

Trojans 5-3, 2-2 Pac-12

Beavers 6-2, 4-1 Pac-12

Online: For in-game updates and analysis, visit the Sports Now blog at

Per GameUSCOregon State

Points scored24.640.1

Points given up 19.327.4

Passing offense 209.6420.8

Rushing offense 170.166.6

Passing defense211.9242.9

Rushing defense106.0138.4

Twitter: @latimesklein