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Staff Predictions: No. 14 USC vs Oregon State

Our staff make their predictions on Saturday’s game. Will the Trojans bounce back?

NCAA Football: Southern California at Washington State James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

USC returns home as they try to get back on track following last week’s loss at Washington State. This week they host the Oregon State Beavers who come into this game with a 1-4 record. The staff take their shot at predicting what could happen this week. Give us your predictions in the comments below.

Matthew: Trojans gets back on track with a huge game

Usually all eyes are on how a team responds following a loss. USC knew they let one slip in Pullman last week and as Chris Hawkins said “I feel sorry for whoever we play next.”. Unfortunately that next team is Oregon State. I feel this will be a game we’ll see USC flex their muscles here and silence their critics for at least a week. I also believe the USC offense will have a huge game against Oregon State, whom has one of the worst defenses in the Pac-12 conference.

USC-45 Oregon State-17

Josh: How Sam Darnold got his groove back

If there are any signs of struggle from star Sam Darnold then, suffice to say, alarms will be sound off. I don’t think that will be the case, though. No offense to any Oregon State fans reading, but this is the exact matchup that Darnold and his Trojan teammates need after an upsetting loss at Washington State. Look for the running game to put up huge numbers which, in turn, will allow the passing offense to put huge numbers - it’s going to be a long a vicious cycle that the Beavers will have to face.

USC tops Oregon State, 48-14

Nick: This is a get right game for USC ahead of tough games against Utah and Notre Dame

The Trojans are favored to win by about 4-5 scores and for good reason. Oregon State is struggling even when healthy and have key injuries on both sides of the ball. This should be a comfortable win for the Trojans who have not lost at home since Clay Helton took over as head coach. The Trojans should win without too much trouble, if they don’t it may be time to panic. USC should use this game to get guys healthy including the ones playing with nagging injuries like Deontay Burnett and other key starters.

Next week USC takes their stalled rushing offense against Utah’s nationally elite run defense. USC has to use today’s game to establish a passing attack that is more than one guy. Opposing defenses are allowed to stack the box because the passing game is not much of a threat beyond usually only two players. This afternoon the Trojans should use this opportunity to establish passing threats. Tyler Petite, Michael Pittman Jr., Joseph Lewis IV, Velus Jones Jr., Josh Imatorbhebhe, and possibly even Trevon Sidney, and Josh Falo should get more looks and targets in this game. These younger players need the live game reps and Darnold needs to get in sync with more receivers. The Trojans should also establish Ronald Jones II as a consistently viable receiving threat so that he is not neutralized by a stacked defensive front.

Effectively USC should use this home game against a weak opponent as a scrimmage. They might not win this scrimmage by 30+ points but they could do themselves all sorts of favors for the rest of the season by showing future opponents that their defense can no longer get away with overloading the box with only 3 or 4 in coverage. The Trojans can then get their running game back and the offense can start looking a lot more like they did against Stanford than against WSU.

USC-37 Oregon State-17

Brendan: Can you spell “b-l-o-w-o-u-t”?

With OSU starting QB Jake Luton out for the season with a back injury and RB Ryan Nall questionable with a severely sprained ankle, OSU’s task to upset USC just got that much harder. With those two being out, the Beavers have struggled to move the ball on offense and now must go up a talented Trojan defense who have been playing great all year.

Now is the perfect game for USC to work out all their kinks and get healthy again. Expect to see USC return to the run game, as the Beavers defense has allowed more than 208 yards per game this season on the ground. Ronald Jones II will gash the Beavs early and often and Stephen Carr will come into his own in the second half of this game. Expect Tyler Vaughns to have another impressive performance, building off his great game last week against Wazzu.

Sam Darnold has reportedly had confidence issues so far this season, so today presents a great opportunity for him to gain that edge back. If he goes off today against an injured, inexperienced Beaver secondary it could be the turning point of his season. I think the Beavers battle hard early on, but USC is just too much.

USC-41 Oregon State-13