USC had not given up a touchdown pass coming into Saturday night’s game against Oregon State and Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion, who will probably end this season as the Pac-12 Conference’s career passing leader.
Oregon State hadn’t given up a scoring pass, either.
One streak lives; the other died.
Mannion struggled all night against a USC defense that played like it had plenty to prove.
As good as the Trojans defense was, USC quarterback Cody Kessler was every bit as impressive. He nimbly avoided Oregon State’s rush and threw on the run with pinpoint accuracy in completing 24 of 32 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns as the No. 18 Trojans defeated the Beavers, 35-10, for their 23rd consecutive win at home in the series.
USC improved its record to 3-1 overall, 2-0 in Pac-12 play. Oregon State fell to 3-1, 0-1.
Oregon State’s only touchdown came on a 97-yard kickoff return by Ryan Murphy midway through the first quarter.
The kickoff return, aided by good blocks and poor tackling, was completed in 14 seconds after Su’a Cravens scored on a 31-yard interception return.
Cravens, playing linebacker, was a force all night.
Oregon State took a 10-7 lead on a 38-yard field goal by Trevor Romaine early in the second quarter, but Kessler connected with Justin Davis on a 16-yard scoring pass with 7:16 left in the half to give USC the lead for good, 14-10.
Davis also scored on a 21-yard run in the fourth quarter that pushed the Trojans’ lead to the final margin.
Between Davis’ touchdowns, USC scored on a 48-yard Hail Mary pass from Kessler to Darreus Rogers as time ran out in the first half, and on a 17-yard run by Javorius Allen early in the fourth quarter.
Mannion, who trails only Matt Barkley and Carson Palmer on the Pac-12 career passing list, was held to 123 yards passing. He completed 15 of 32 attempts and had two passes intercepted.
Kessler completed passes to nine receivers. He has completed better than 70% of his passes this season and has thrown 132 passes without an interception.
USC 35, Oregon State 10 (5:02 remaining in fourth quarter)
USC will start on its own 12-yard line.
Another flag thrown by the official, it’s a penalty against Oregon State.
USC and Oregon State have combined for 25 penalties resulting in 220 yards.
Javorius Allen can add another 100-yard rushing game to his resume. Allen has rushed 108 yards in 18 carries with a touchdown. He also has five receptions for 23 yards.
Justin Davis is having a nice night, too. He has 82 yards rushing in 15 carries, including a touchdown he just scored on a 21-yard run.
Oregon State will start on its own nine-yard line.
USC has racked up a whopping 124 yards in 14 penalties after Anthony Sarao is called for holding and Claude Pelon is called for a personal foul on the next play.
The two penalties won’t cost the Trojans this time. Oregon State has to punt.
Su’a Cravens and Hayes Pullard lead USC’s defense with five tackles each.
USC will start on the 50-yard line.
Tailback Justin Davis fumbles the ball and its recovered by Cody Kessler behind the first down marker, but Davis had already reached the first down. So by rule, says the official, it’s a USC first down.
This is a late night game and the officials aren’t helping to keep it moving. The Coliseum is half full and probably half sleeping after some officiating delays in the fourth quarter.
Kris Albarado eventually punts the ball.
Oregon State will start on its own 28-yard line.
USC’s defense comes up with another three and out.
USC 28, Oregon State 10 (14:29 left in the fourth quarter)
USC will start on its own 13-yard line.
Another penalty for the Trojans’ offensive line as Toa Lobendahn is called for holding.
That brings the Trojans’ penalty total to 12 for 99 yards.
Justin Davis looks like the Justin Davis of last season, before he broke his ankle at Notre Dame. He has 52 yards in nine carries, but what stands out is his second and third effort through tackles.
USC comes out with a trick play to start the fourth quarter. Cody Kessler pitches to Ajene Harris who stands back and lets a pass fly down field, but it falls incomplete. Harris was a quarterback at Los Angeles Crenshaw High before USC converted him to a receiver. I haven’t seen that play in practice before.
Kessler completes a 15-yard pass to Nelson Agholor on the next play and it is followed by a Javorius Allen 17-yard touchdown run.
USC is blowing this game open and the offense is starting to resemble what we saw against Fresno State.
Oregon State will start on its own 20-yard line.
USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox is redeeming himself tonight (after the major debacle at Boston College). The defense just forced another Beaver three and out.
Oregon State has been held to 169 yards of total offense.
USC will start on its own 12-yard line.
Justin Davis is running right up the middle on this drive, which is not a direction we have seen much of from USC’s tailbacks in Coach Steve Sarkisian’s offense.
Quarterback Cody Kessler completes a pass over the middle to Ajene Harris. Harris was a standout in fall camp and is seeing his most action of the season tonight. He has three receptions for 30 yards.
And then, another tight end sighting. Kessler completes and 18-yard pass to Randall Telfer, which puts USC on its own 23-yard line. I wonder if Sarkisian reads the Times?
USC is unable to reach a first down on third and 17.
The rhythm of this game has been slowed by penalties and Oregon State injuries. Trainers are tending to another Beaver on the field.
And there are loud boos after the player jogs off the field. Fans must be wondering if Oregon State is trying to slow USC’s offense down.
Andre Heidari’s 36-yard field goal attempt was deflected.
Oregon State will start on its own 44-yard line.
USC’s defense forces an Oregon State three and out.
The Beavers will punt.
Checking in on USC’s up-tempo offense: The Trojans have run 34 plays for 198 yards. Compare that to Oregon State, which runs a more traditional pro-style offense, and has run 40 plays for 163 yards.
USC will start on its own 10-yard line.
Three and out for the Trojans after an incomplete pass to Javorius “Buck” Allen.
Allen leads USC’s offense with five receptions for 23 yards and has rushed 41 yards in eight carries.
USC will punt.
Oregon State will start from its own 22-yard line.
Linebacker Su’a Cravens with another big play for USC, stripping Oregon State of the football. However, Hayes Pullard picked up a penalty for facemask before the strip, so Oregon State keeps the ball.
Regardless of the penalty, Cravens is proving his worth at linebacker.
Quarterback Sean Mannion is continuing to challenge Kevon Seymour in the second half -- but this time, Seymour nearly intercepts the pass.
Mannion’s pass on third down is incomplete. The Beavers will punt.
USC 21, Oregon State 10 (Halftime)
USC starting from its own 25-yard line.
Boos in the Coliseum after USC started this drive with two short passes.
Quarterback Cody Kessler goes over the middle on the next play, completing a 21-yard pass to Ajene Harris, who took a big hit on the tackle but bounced right back up.
Freshman Bryce Dixon picks up his second first down of the game for USC. Dixon has shown a great pass-catching ability during practices. He has two receptions for 44 yards.
USC is in another third-and-long situation and doesn’t come close to the first down mark after a short pass to Javorius “Buck” Allen.
The Trojans will for it on 4th and 15. Or they’ll just wait for the clock to tick down to one second.
Quarterback Cody Kessler scrambles on the final play of the half before heaving the ball down field into the end zone, where Darreus Rogers outleaps everyone -- including three of his own teammates -- for a 48-yard touchdown. That’s Rogers specialty, going up in the end zone and outreaching his opponents for touchdown receptions. He does it frequently in practice.
Oregon State will start from its own 25-yard line.
USC’s Su’a Cravens is making plays as a linebacker tonight as he sacks Sean Mannion.
Cravens resisted any notion through the offseason that he was built as a linebacker. He told me this week he weighs 230 pounds -- and he wants to play safety. Do you think he’ll realize he’s really productive as a linebacker?
Cornerback Chris Hawkins is called for holding for the second time. Both he and Adoree’ Jackson have been called for holding before the play. It will be interesting to hear if that’s a technique that’s being taught by defensive backs coach Keith Heyward.
Hayes Pullard jumps in on the penalty party; he’s called for a facemask. USC has eight penalties for 65 yards.
Safety Leon McQuay makes a huge play for USC, intercepting a pass by Sean Mannion in the end zone -- the ball was tipped by Adoree’ Jackson.
USC 14, Oregon State 10 (7:16 left in the second quarter)
Adoree’ Jackson returns the kickoff 35 yards to USC’s own 35-yard line.
Javorius “Buck” Allen earned USC a first down with two carries.
Can’t blame the young kids for everything. Fifth-year senior Randall Telfer picks up a false-start penalty for the Trojans to setup a third-and-nine situation.
There’s finally a tight end sighting in the offense. Quarterback Cody Kessler’s longest completion of the night is 31 yards to freshman Bryce Dixon and the Coliseum goes wild -- finally seeing a ball thrown down the field.
Justin Davis wasn’t going to stop for anything, he catches a 16-yard pass and breaks a tackle, finding the pylon for a USC touchdown.
Oregon State 10, USC 7 (11:14 left in the second quarter)
Oregon State will start from its own nine-yard line.
Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion opens the offense on the first play of the second quarter with a 29-yard pass over USC cornerback Kevon Seymour, taking Oregon State to its own 38-yard line.
Mannion is now picking on Seymour, another deep completion over the USC cornerback -- this time a 27-yard completion.
Seymour was switched to the other side of the field and Adoree’ Jackson was brought in. Mannion went right back to Seymour, but the pass falls for an incompletion.
More young player mistakes. Chris Hawkins was called for holding on defense, which gives Oregon State a first down. It looked like USC was on the verge of a stop.
Su’a Cravens makes a big tackle in the backfield. Cravens wants to play safety, but after tonight maybe he’ll rethink that.
USC’s secondary gave up some big plays on this drive, but the front-seven is making enough plays to hold Oregon State out of the end zone.
The Beavers make a 38-yard field goal to take the lead.
USC will start from its own 38-yard line.
And it’s another up-tempo three and out for the Trojans, despite help from Oregon State earning a substitution penalty.
Kris Albarado punts.
Oregon State will start from its own 35-yard line.
Beaver quarterback Sean Mannion is throwing to Adoree’ Jackson’s side of the field and completes an 11-yard pass.
Leonard Williams with a monstrous sack on Mannion deep in the backfield. That is Williams’ first big play of the game.
An incomplete pass will force Oregon State to punt.
So far, USC’s defense seems to have woken up since the loss at Boston College. The offense -- it has some work to do.
USC from its own 41-yard line.
More offensive line woes for USC as quarterback Cody Kessler is sacked.
USC has third and long and is only able to gain six yards on a short pass to Javorius “Buck” Allen.
It might be sooner than later that the Coliseum starts booing USC’s play calling. There are a lot of grumbles.
USC 7, Oregon State 7 (4:57 left in the first quarter)
Well, that was fast.
Oregon State’s Ryan Murphy just returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.
USC’s special teams looked less than special. Leon McQuay III missed the last-chance tackle. McQuay was getting hollered at all week during practice for his (lack of) tackling.
USC 7, Oregon State 0 (5:11 left in the first quarter)
Oregon State will start from its own 16-yard line.
Young mistakes showing up for USC -- now on defense. Adoree’ Jackson is called for holding, which will give Oregon State a first down.
Su’a Cravens makes his first big play as a strong-side linebacker, jumping a route and picking a pass by Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion and returning it 31 yards for a USC touchdown.
Andre Heidari’s point after touchdown is good.
USC will start from its own 18-yard line.
And it’s an up-tempo three and out for the Trojans.
Celebrity spotting on USC’s sideline, Sylvester Stallone.
Oregon State will start from its own nine-yard line.
Adoree’ Jackson did not start on defense for USC.
USC’s front seven was abysmal against Boston College, but it just had a good bounce back in its first series against Oregon State’s offense.
J.R. Tavai and Scott Felix both making big plays to force Oregon State to punt.
Oregon State kicks off to start the game.
Adoree’ Jackson returns the kick for the Trojans 23 yards.
USC will start from its own 23-yard line.
Freshman receiver Ajene Harris is starting in the slot -- that wasn’t announced in the starting lineup.
An early flag for pass interference is thrown on Oregon State, giving USC a first down.
Javorius “Buck” Allen rushes for 16 yards, the first big offensive play for the Trojans. It will be interesting to see tonight how much USC Coach Steve Sarkisian goes to Allen, since he relied heavily on the running game at Boston College.
And we’re finding out early that USC’s young offensive line is still young. Freshmen right guard Viane Talamaivao and Toa Lobendahn just combined for three consecutive false starts.
USC is forced to punt after the drive stalls.
Despite a bye week for the Seattle Seahawks, Pete Carroll is not at the Coliseum tonight -- where he’ll be introduced as a member of the 2015 USC Athletic Hall of Fame class at halftime.
But former USC linebackers and Super Bowl champion Seahawks Malcolm Smith and Mike Morgan are -- and they just led the Trojans from the tunnel onto the field.
USC announced its starting lineups on the video board in the Coliseum.
The offense: quarterback Cody Kessler, receivers JuJu Smith, Nelson Agholor and George Farmer, tight end Randall Telfer, tailback Javorius “Buck” Allen, and offensive linemen Zach Baner, Viane Talamaivao, Max Tuerk, Toa Lobendahn and Chad Wheeler.
The defense: defensive linemen Delvon Simmons, Antwaun Woods and Leonard Williams, linebackers J.R. Tavai, Hayes Pullard and Anthony Sarao, cornerbacks Kevon Seymour, Chris Hawkins and Adoree’ Jackson and safeties Leon McQuay III, Su’a Cravens and Gerald Bowman.
Cravens said this week he would play Sam linebacker, referring to the strongside linebacker position -- though he introduced himself in the lineup as a safety.
USC has three out-of-state recruits on an official visit who will be at the Coliseum for tonight’s game: offensive lineman Chuma Edoga, running back Aca’Cedric Ware and receiver DaMarkus Lodge.
Edoga, from Powder Springs (Ga.) McEachern High, signed a financial-aid agreement with USC earlier this month.
Ware is from Cedar Hill, Texas, and committed to USC in July.
Lodge is the high school teammate of Ware and is one of the most sought-after recruits in the 2015 class. Lodge was once committed to Texas A&M.
We are back inside the Coliseum for the first time since the opener on Aug. 30, when USC ran more than 100 plays on offense and defeated Fresno State in convincing fashion, 52-13.