USC is back on the road with a date at Oregon State in the Beavers' conference opener in college football's Week 4 action on Saturday.
Both teams come in at 3-0 on the year, and both with statement wins over Fresno State. USC owns a win in the Pac-12 after routing Stanford on the road, while OSU is fresh off dropping 68 on Montana State last week.
Here's what you need to know about this Saturday's matchup.
Week 4 college football schedule: USC vs. Oregon State
When: Sat., Sept. 24
Time: 9:30 p.m. Eastern
TV: Pac-12 Network
Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Line: USC -6
Moneyline: USC -250 OSU +188
FPI pick: USC 69.4%
USC. Two important markers on both sides of the ball bring back memories of the Carroll years. One, USC has scored 152 points through its first 3 games, the most since 2005. And two, the Trojans have 10 takeaways on defense, their most since 2004. The early returns on Caleb Williams – who has 8 TDs and averages 291.3 ypg – and Jordan Addison – college football's reigning TD leader with 5 scores on 18 catches, or 28% of the time he touches the ball – are phenomenal. And Southern Cal can pound the rock, too: Travis Dye is at nearly 8 ypc and Austin Jones is over 8 while accounting for 5 of the team's 9 rushing scores.
Oregon State. Suddenly, the Beavers offense is appointment viewing. Chance Nolan leads a unit responsible for 45.7 points per game and is playing behind a well-coordinated line responsible for just 2 sacks on the year. Nolan is a 63% passer with 7 scores and 2 picks and aided by a receiving corps with 6 pass catchers over 18 ypc and a backfield good for 5 yards per attempt. Anthony Gould is making a case as Nolan's top target, catching 2 TDs a week ago, and scoring a 3rd on an 80 yard punt, the only college football player to score on a catch and a punt this season.
Oregon State quarterback Chance Nolan
+ Oregon State started 3-0 for the 1st time since 2014 and hasn't started 4-0 since 2012
+ USC has 10 takeaways, its most through 3 games since it had 12 in 2004
+ OSU is tied for 8th nationally with 6 INTs
+ USC has 500 yards of total offense through 3 games for 1st time since 2017
+ Oregon State is Pac-12's only team perfect in the red zone (14 of 14)
+ USC has scored on all 7 of its 1 qtr drives this season
+ Beavers are 15-4 when leading at halftime under Jonathan Smith
+ USC has won 36 of the last 41 against Oregon State
+ OSU's Chance Nolan is 3rd nationally with 15.87 yards per pass
+ OSU has 8 takeaways through 3 games
+ USC has won 70.1% of its games all-time against Pac-12 teams
+ Oregon State is 15-9 under Smith when scoring first and 4-19 when not
Watch how the Trojans deploy running back Travis Dye. A versatile piece in the backfield, he can help this offense as a between the tackles back, a receiver coming out of the backfield, or an extra pass protector.
Dye is an able receiver who can slip out of coverage in blitzes and catch screen plays for moderate gains in a maneuver that can throw the Beavers out of rhythm rushing the pocket.
USC might struggle at left tackle, where the team is not completely healthy, and get Williams on the move early. He excelled last week on a series of read-option keepers, but can't expose himself too much as a rusher.
OSU will put points on the board and has enough power to shrink the Trojans' pocket especially to Williams' blind side, but USC's skill options and versatility are a grade better than what the Beavers have on the field.
College Football HQ Prediction: USC 34, Oregon State 27
According to AP top 25 poll
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