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Neither of these teams is ranked, but that doesn't mean this game isn't important. Both still have a shot at winning their respective divisions in the Pac-12. While that sounds like a long shot, it isn't that far out there. The Beavers are at home for the second straight week and are -5.5 point favorites at betonline against the Trojans.
Oregon State lost its first conference game last weekend against Stanford in a low-scoring battle, 20-12. As expected, the Beavers had trouble putting points on the board without a running game. Sean Mannion threw for 271 yards, but they only ran for 17 as a team. Granted, a lot of those yards were subtracted for sacks. The Beavers are still only one game behind Oregon in the North and they'll get a chance to bring down the Ducks in the final game of the year. No team is invincible in this sport.
USC already has two conference losses, but playing in the South has its advantages. Arizona State is the only team in the division to have less than two conference losses, and they still have three tough road games on their schedule. If the Trojans can get some upsets to close the season, they'll definitely be in the race for the Pac-12 Championship game.
The Trojans will look to ride their defense to try and pull the upset on the road. They have only allowed 17 points in the last two games. After a couple poor outings, they are back to how they started the season.
USC will also use the ground game as much as possible with Tre Madden and Silas Redd finally healthy together. The two have combined for 863 yards rushing. Cody Kessler hasn't been amazing at quarterback, but he's done his job for the most part with nine TDs on the year. It hasn't helped that top receiver Marqise Lee has missed time including last week's game. Lee will be questionable to play in this one, but Nelson Agholor has stepped in when needed and been huge for this team. Agholor has 347 yards in the last three games.
Oregon State's two losses have both been at home this year, so USC knows they can be rattled. The defense is respectable, but had trouble stopping the rush vs. Stanford as the Cardinal went for 185 yards as a team. Madden and Redd will be used plenty for the Trojans.
Everyone knows what the Beavers do on offense, led by one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. On the season, Sean Mannion is completing 69 percent of his passes for 3,263 yards, 30 touchdowns and just three interceptions. It's unlikely the Trojans will be able to stop Mannion and company for the second straight week. WR Brandin Cooks (1,256 yards, 13 TDs) is close to unstoppable and will get his usual looks. The Beavers don't have a rusher with more than 224 yards on the year, so don't expect much running from them.
USC can be beat in the air, but it wouldn't be surprising if they hold Mannion down to mediocre numbers. A lot of Mannion's stats have come against poor defenses and he only had one TD against Stanford last weekend. If the Trojans can run the ball, this will come down to the fourth quarter.
The Trojans are just 1-10 ATS in their last 10 road games and 0-5 ATS in their last five games following an ATS win. The Beavers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games following an ATS loss, but only 1-4 ATS in their last five home games. The home team is 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings between these teams, but the last time they played was in 2010.
Early betting action at sportsbook.com is all Oregon State as as a whopping 96% of the action as of Monday afternoon has come in on the Beavers. Of course, we have all week yet, but we'd expect those numbers to likely hold all week for the most part. Perhaps not as drastic, but the public likes Oregon State.
We considered using USC as a Key Release here. They have the defense to compete here and really have just the one bad mark on their season, that 2nd half collapse against Arizona State. Our model likes USC straight up by a point when using season to date data however that shifts to Oregon State by 10 when using only the last 4 games.
USC is banged up and that's what ultimately keeps us off this game. That and their offense which would likey have difficulty if this turns into a shootout. So, we'll call it a lean towards USC +4
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