I submit this for discussion: In behind-the-scenes reality, it’s possible that all year long, Mike Riley and his coaches mostly design plays and run practices for only 1 game every year – USC. He will claim of course to be practicing for whoever is next up on the schedule. But truthfully, maybe all his practices, no matter who they are really playing, are in reality focused on USC. It paid off last year against us and almost paid off this year.
Practicing plays designed to beat USC makes OSU good enough to beat or at least be competitive against most teams, though it makes them a bit more vulnerable against teams with running, mobile QBs – i.e. as they were vulnerable against Oregon last year.
Just throwing this out as a possibility.