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O/NSO: Oregon State edition

The Obvious: Hoping to rebound from both last week’s upset at Washington State and disabling injuries, the No. 14 USC Trojans (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) host the unranked Oregon State Beavers (1-4, 0-2 Pac-12) on Saturday afternoon in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET).

The Not So Obvious: The Trojans don’t have a bye week during the regular season, so Saturday’s game against Oregon State could suffice as an unofficial bye week. However, the Men of Troy have not played up to expectations for a variety of reasons, and the Beavers will be gnawing at an opportunity to make their own difficult season tolerable with an upset victory. OSU gave No. 6 Washington a game through the first half (7-0), so they can’t be totally dismissed, certainly not the way the Trojans have been performing.

The Obvious: The Trojans opened a 32-point favorite to defeat Oregon State.

The Not So Obvious: The Trojans lead the series with Oregon State, 61-11-4, which dates back to 1914. The Men of Troy have won 34 of the last 38 meetings, but OSU has won three of the past seven games. The Trojans have recorded 17 shutouts in the series, including two scoreless ties. For added measure, the Trojans have won the last 24 games played in Los Angeles. The two programs have not met the past two years due to Pac-12 rotation scheduling.

The Obvious: Saturday’s game featuring the Trojans and Oregon State will be nationally televised on the Pac-12 Networks (1 p.m. PT/4 p.m. ET).

The Not So Obvious: The Pac-12 broadcasters for Saturday’s game will be Roxy Bernstein (play-by-play), Chad Brown (analysis), and Lewis Johnson (sidelines).

The Obvious: Saturday’s Trojans’ game radio broadcast from the Coliseum will air live (1 p.m. PT) on ESPNLA 710 AM with Pete Arbogast (play by play), John Jackson (analyst) and Jordan Moore (sideline).

The Trojans ESPNLA 710 pregame show (9 a.m. PT) and two-hour post-game show will feature a variety of talent, which includes Arbogast, Jackson, Moore, Shaun Cody, Chris Fisher, Travis Rodgers, Dennis Thurman, Rachel Frain, and WeAreSC publisher Garry Paskwietz.

The Not So Obvious: The Oregon State broadcast can be heard on flagship station KEX (1190AM) with Mike Parker (play-by-play), Jim Wilson (analyst) and Ron Callen (sideline). Saturday’s game will also be on ESPN national radio with Bill Rosinski (play-by-play), David Norrie (analyst), and Ian Fitzsimmons (sidelines).

Saturday’s game will also air on Sirius XM satellite radio (online channel 959) and on the Tuneln Radio app.

The Obvious: Saturday’s Los Angeles weather forecast for kickoff calls for hot and sunny with a high of 91degrees, 19 percent humidity, and 0 precipitation.

The Not So Obvious: The real weather report is whether the Trojans can bounce back from their difficult loss last Friday night to Washington State… We’ll find out whether this team has the character of the 2016 team, and whether the coaching staff has been able to eliminate the mistakes made against the Cougars… We’ll also see whether this USC team is again willing to play an increased physical game or will they be the nail as opposed to the hammer, a somewhat reoccurring theme thus far… Offensively, we’ll see whether the Trojans offensive line is able to come together with two starters out (OT Chuma Edoga – high ankle sprain/OG Viane Talamaivao – pectoral injury and done for the season) and whether the new right side of the line – true freshman right guard Andrew Vorhees and redshirt sophomore right tackle Clayton Johnston/ true freshman Austin Jackson – can be productive. The good news is that starting left tackle Toa Lobendahn returns from a staph infection… We’ll also find out whether the defense is ready to go, especially the corners, who were called for two critical pass interference call against Washington State, which kept drives alive. Of course, it won’t be Luke Falk at quarterback when Oregon State comes calling, it will be senior backup Darrell Garretson… Then there is the reality that Oregon State doesn’t have the talent of the Trojans, but we’ll find out whether the Beavers have anything left after their physically taxing game against Washington last week. Will show the Trojans show no mercy to the visiting Beavers?

The Obvious: The 2017 Trojans’ offense averages 35.0 points per game while the Oregon State defense is allowing 46.4 points per outing.

The Not So Obvious: The 2017 Oregon State offense averages 21.2 points per game while the Trojans defense is allowing 25.8 points per game.

The Obvious: The Oregon State head coach is Gary Andersen.

The Not So Obvious: The 52-year-old Andersen has a wealth of coaching experience that spans the ranks of high school, junior college, small college and FBS level programs. Anderson is currently in his ninth year as the head coach at the FBS level, which includes stops at OSU, Wisconsin and Utah State. He has coached in numerous bowl games and has been a finalist for several national awards.

The Obvious: Quarterback Sam Darnold is the key to the Trojans’ offense.

The Not So Obvious: At this point, clearly Darnold is lacking some confidence, what with an offensive line that is not dependable in protecting him, receivers that at various times have dropped some catchable passes, and by Darnold himself, best illustrated by his nine interceptions. If there is one Pac-12 team that could help boost Sam’s confidence in a hurry, it would be the lowly Beavers’ defense, last in the conference.

The Obvious: The Oregon State quarterback is senior Darrell Garretson (6-0, 205), a former 2017 backup.

The Not So Obvious: Garretson’s grandfather is the late Hall of Fame NBA official Darrell Garretson. The Beavers’ quarterback father is Rick Garretson, who played wide receiver at San Diego State, and his uncle, Ron Garretson, is veteran NBA official of over 20 years.

The Obvious: The Beavers have a standout running back in junior Ryan Nall (6-2, 237) from Sandy, Oregon, and force on defense is senior inside linebacker Manase Hungalu (6-1, 238) from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

The Not So Obvious: Naul, whose playing status is up in the air due to a foot injury sustained last week against Washington) is closing in on 2,000 career rushing yards, including eight games with 100-plus yards. Thus far in 2017, Naul has 341 yards and four TDs. As for Hungalu, in 2017 he has 40 tackles, 3.5 for losses.

The Obvious: The Trojans offensive coordinator is Tee Martin.

The Not So Obvious: Assessing what he would like to see with his offense that he didn’t see last week against Washington State and evaluating the Oregon State defense, Martin said, “We have to clean up our mental mistakes and it was at every position. When we look at the last game, it was all about us. There was a lot of self-inflicted stuff at every position, and I can’t begin to start. That was the talk to the offense yesterday; it’s not about the other team, it’s about us. Defensively, in terms of size, they (Oregon State) stick out on tape. They have three or four 300-plus pounders up front. It will be a challenge for us to get a push upfront to create some gaps in the run game. They get after it on third downs. We have to protect our quarterback and make plays.”

The Obvious: The Oregon State offense is ranked last in the Pac-12.

The Not So Obvious: Assessing Oregon State offense, his defense’s performance against Washington State, and the critical pass interference calls against his corners, Trojans’ DC Clancy Pendergast said, “They are very multiple in what they do. They’re very much a spread oriented team. They utilize their personnel really well. The quarterback is a dual- threat.” Comparing Washington State and Oregon State, Pendergast said, “They’re two totally different teams. Obviously, we have to play consistent and play better to win the game. Last week, I thought we tackled in space well. We could have been better; we were a little over 40% on third down. We had a couple of third downs that we let out that we would like to have back. We talked about it and corrected it, and we’ve moved on to Oregon State.” On whether the Trojans’ corners understand not to get critical pass interference calls like last weekend at Washington State, Pendergast said, “I hope from Day 1 they understand what they should be doing, but sometimes they get put into a situation and penalties happens, so obviously we don’t condone them, but they do happen and they’re part of the game.”      

The Obvious: Birthdays are a day of celebration.

The Not So Obvious: Trojans players celebrating birthdays on Saturday include snapper Damon Johnson and offensive tackle Clayton Johnston.

The Obvious: This is the 77th game between the Trojans and the Beavers.

The Not So Obvious: It’s the first time ever that the game be held on Oct. 7.

The Obvious: The Trojans have one player from the state of Oregon, true freshman defensive tackle Marlon Tuipulotu (Independence Central HS)

The Not So Obvious: Oregon State has 27 players on its roster from California.

The Obvious: As per routine, the Trojans will recognize and salute individuals and/or groups at Saturday’s game in the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious: Among those to be welcomed will be selected high school bands on High School Band Day, as well as recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Obvious: And finally, the Trojans need a confidence-building, decisive victory over Oregon State.

The Not So Obvious: Following the Beavers, it’ll be possibly undefeated Utah and once-beaten Notre Dame, so a good showing against Oregon State will be paramount going into the upcoming two critical games.

Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

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